Recently I was in a lunch meeting with a prominent member of the European Parliament who is also former Minister of Foreign Affairs of an EU member state. As a seasoned politician, he said that “citizens are complaining about politics however politics is just a mirror of the society”. I replied to him, “But what if the mirror is broken?” What if the mirror is reflecting a deformed image? He found the allegory very interesting and we spent the rest of the lunch talking about that.
What do the European citizens think about politics?
When asked what the European citizens think about politics, it was found that 71% of European citizens feel politics is corrupt, according to Eurobarometer. As for the influence of young people, 64% of young Germans think that most politicians ignore the views of younger people. Despite these numbers, the citizens are losing faith in democracy and democracy is not all about ballot-box. In the 21st century, it is a citizen centered a state of mind.
Many of us want a call for action to upgrade democracy,
starting with the basic questions like “why democracy is important?” Why and how political parties should change? Even in the best democratic cases in developed countries, few people make daily decisions in the name of hundreds of thousands of citizens. If democracy is to be rebuilt, it may become again vigorous and vibrant, it is necessary for politicians to be courageous, rational and innovative in defending and upgrading democratic values, the way making politics.
A Necessity: Renovation of Politics
Our political system’s main elements have remained the same for the past 200 years,
and they expect us to be content with being passive recipients of this system’s decision. The main message is the same: Lack of trust, faith in politics, demand for change, involvement of citizens in the decision making process. In other words, if democracy is to be rebuilt, it may become again vigorous and vibrant, allowing the decision making process to be one that the people can appreciate.
What should political parties do to address these challenges?
In order for the political party to regain the trust of the people, here are three suggestions.
First, having active citizens be a part of the decision making process. Secondly, incorporating new technology for the means of communication will help to rebuild the trust of the people. Finally, being adaptive to new ways of doing politics, by combining participation and collaboration with transparency to transform how we as the people work. Many of new century citizens voice a call for action to rebuild democracy, it is necessary for politicians to be courageous, rational and innovative in defending and upgrading democratic values and citizens have to force politicians to be accountable.
Smart citizenship, new technologies and much more transparency-friendly legislative process can restore trust in politics. Citizens naturally expect easy to understand, factual and easy to check facts. The new way of politics requires building the story together with citizens who share or tend to share the fundamental values and principles with the party. When we start to see power over the core functions of government — spending, legislation, decision-making —then we’re well on our way to an open government revolution. If local democracy is to succeed, it is about the active and informed engagement of every citizen. Smart citizens of 21st century have to force politicians to be accountable and for change in the way political parties working. Thanks to the rapid development of information technology, we now have multiple and wider channels to express ourselves as citizens.
We cannot fix the government until we fix our citizenship and rediscover the power of citizens. We, smart citizens, are the change.