Democracia Real Ya!: a push for more democracy in Europe

A call from a Federalist taking part in the Spanish Movement

, by Colin Cogitore

Democracia Real Ya!: a push for more democracy in Europe

Under this slogan, millions of Spanish citizens gathered to shout out how far their democracy was from what they expected it to be: “real”.

They started with a national demonstration and continued with self-organized and autonomous camps in each regional capital to discuss in general assemblies what should be changed in the system. To do so, they spontaneously share the tasks in various working-groups (not only regarding political or communicational issues but also logistical ones). What binds them together is the idea that reality is ruled by institutions which are above of their national government in legal terms (corruption), in financial terms (banks) or even influence (private companies).

That’s not a surprise: the crisis Spain faces (as a well as other European countries) has strong consequences in the reality, letting the hope for politician’s speeches.

But these demonstrations emphasize a fact: the political power (which means the power of decision, the societal choices and common future) has nowadays little to do with elections...

The policies made by Mr Zapartero’s party, the Socialist Party (PSOE), weren’t “left-oriented” policies, but rather “crisis-oriented” policies. Why couldn’t the PSOE leaders choose themselves the policies they considered best valuable for the Spanish people? Probably because there were a lot of influences, constrains, and pressure to keep the Spanish economy in the European standards, in the international market and, above all, to avoid worse consequences on the financial market. What kind of legitimacy then, do these institutions, foreign governments or private actors, have to overpass the will and the choice of millions of citizens? None... except the fact they run the money Spanish people live with.

How is it possible, then, that the money of millions of persons could be held in the hand of nondemocratic institutions, which, paradoxically, influence or even dictate policies for the democratically elected governments? The answer is quite simple and result of a basic fact: the capitalistic system is extremely innovative and flexible, whereas the political changes are much more rigid and conservative. In the past twenty years, the financial world has made extraordinary steps forward to be globalized, unique, fluid, border-free and powerful, whereas the political world has concentrated itself on its national borders.

One of the exceptions has been the European Union. But once more, the main motivations that guide the European Union are very capitalist oriented ones: free market, financial and monetary union. This has led to a series of financial, economic and monetary governance’s rules and institutions, but few innovations in the political side (so few that some authors detected a “democratic gap” within the European institutions). This democratic gap is now, regarding the so called #spanishrevolution, what is at stake: regain the political power that private, international and supranational institutions kept away from European peoples.

One example is the European Commission, whose members are chosen without any democratic consultation, and whose power is nevertheless much more extended than the European Parliament or member states. Moreover, Brussels has become the center of a perverse game between private interests and European legislation (or absence of legislation): decisions through lobbing. Once more, powerful companies have been more intelligent than citizens and benefit the lack of transparency within the decisional process of the EU.

As a matter of fact, a lot of associations, groups of intellectuals or even politicians are arguing that the only answer to these trends has to be given at the international level, through a “European democracy”. The modalities varies, but all agree that a more democratic Europe has to be designed and promoted in order to be sustainable.

The “indignados” have well understood the problem of our Europe: the decisions that are taken to govern are less and less made by our ballots, but rather by our absence of political conscience, ambitions and innovative will. What we need now is certainly a democracy, but not only a national one: we need democracy at the higher level we can achieve by now: at the European one. That’s the only effective way to resolve what make so many people furious.

An answer can be found in the Federalist project of the European Union, which stands for more accountability and transparency within the European institutions, solidarity between European peoples, and what can resolve the problem we face now: a real democratic control over the European institutions.

If the “indignados” were able to carry their indignation to other European peoples, discuss it democratically in the European Parliament and write their requests in legal terms, then we can easily imagine that private or international interests wouldn’t be able to enforce the constraints Europe is currently facing. The better way to reduce the impact of non-democratic powers is by creating a counterweighting democratic one: a real European democracy is needed, now!

This article is a personal analysis and does not reflect the opinion of the “indignados”, JEF, Peace and Conflict Institute or any other institution. French and Spanish copies also exist. The author would be glad to receive any kind of comment and particularly thanks Óliver Soto and Irene Sabio for the previous corrections. Do not cite without permission. (25th of May 2011)

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