Is there a clash between the individual citizen and democracy? Keynote speech for the JMK/FES - Conference on “Values of Social Democracy yesterday, today and tomorrow” by Andreas Gross (Switzerland) Director of the Scientific Institute for Direct Democracy in St- Ursanne, Swiss MP & Leader of the Social-Democrats in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Tallinn, 19th of November 2010 www.andigross.ch firstname.lastname@example.org An overview of my presentation: I. Some definitions for a common understanding II. A first answer III. A first conceptional precision IV. The double crises of Democracy - a double challenge for Socialdemocrats V. Two main reform perspectives Socialdemocrats have to overcome the banalisation of the terms Freedom and Democracy Democracy is more then a choice; it enables us to be free. Freedom means, to act together on our common life (« Life is not a destiny ») Democracy constitutes the rules, rights and proce- dures in order to enable us to solve the ordinary children of freedom, conflicts, without violence ! Democracy: Since 1789 a ongoing and never ending process and project • The people is the only source of legitimate political power • To be able to participate in all decisions which concern you ! • Freedom is not a privilege ! Democracy is also a promise: A fair distribution of life chances as a base for all to be able to be free Democracy: A political order to empower as well as protect the citizens • “For the people, with the people and by the people” • Human (Fundamental) Rights protect the individual citizen against the state/power: “No tyranny of the majority” • Modern democracies are more than representative democracies: By direct-democratic elements representative democracy’s are more representative and the citizens have more to say You can not consume Democracy and Freedom: Citizens have to act in order to be free and to strengthen Dem. • Alone you can only despair, you can not be free. • In order to realise your power to make a difference, you have to be able to meet and to organize with other likeminded citizens • We need to strengthen a positive notion of power: Hannah Arendt, not Max Weber alone ! Democracy: The sphere to think and argue about what could be the common interest • Democratic engagement is more than the defence of private interests • The common/general interest is more then the sum of all private interests The public sphere, where such arguments and discourses have to be considered, can not be based on private media ! Otherwise our Democracies can not produce their most important products: Integration and collective learning ! Socialdemocrats can not defend a “Democracy” which excludes the citizens and ignores it’s social conditions That’s why we are confronted with the “double” crises of the democracies of our times: For many citizens there Democracy looks like a “Democratic absolutism”: Exclusively “representative”. Our democracies are too national only: National democracies can not civilise transnational market forces, on the contrary: Trans- national markets lead to the erosion of the social bases of the national democracies The democratization of Democracy is an ongoing, never ending process: Democracy was reduced to represent. Democracy in a time, where most people couldn’t read or write and were enable to make political judgments ! Today modern citizens know often as much about politics as MP’s: They feel frustrated that ID excludes them and reduces them to objects instead of the subjects of politics. A society in which citizens feel excluded looses a enormous amount of creative potentials, misses collective learning options and undervalues itself ! A bit more Direct Democracy means that you share better and more power with the citizens Nobody should have so much power, that he or she has the “privilege” not to have to learn... Sharing the political power, that means, giving 2 % of the citizens the power to ask for a Referendum on a law voted in the Parliament or a legisl.change they propose to the society, means: Everybody has to listen more - Everybody tries to convince and to discuss Politics become softer, more inclusive and more communicative ! When citizens are able to overcome their homemade alienation/exclusion from Democracy, they find the power to build up a European Democratic Citizen Movement for: For a real European (Federal) Constitution (of Decentralisation) of the EU in order to empower citizens also on the transnational level. Such a democratically constituted EU would be able to defend the social conditions every Democracy needs.
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