What is Wrong with Politics of the Irrepresentable?

Dimitris Rapidis*

It is a common belief in political essays and academic papers that politics have been trapped into a new circle of voting seeking. The well-founded political labels of left-wing and right-wing, as well as the euphemism of the political center are all deeply affected by the lack of a mind-blowing yet active and alive public policy discourse. People are generally dissatisfied by decision-makers all over the world, from the United States to China, and from South Africa to Belgium. The fundamental concern behind this trend is how people can be expressed when it comes to vote in electoral process.

Since the worldwide economic crisis was triggered in the United States (US) with the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in 2008, and since then taking a contagious dimension affecting Europe, people have started to ponder upon the political decisions ahead. The growing mass of people having trouble in choosing how political leadership should be reacting for addressing all kinds of social and economic issues is consistently calling for a new model of political action and decision-making that underpins obsolete mechanisms, figures, and politics. The problem here is that though citizens demand a new social contract, political conditions vary from case to case. And the implementation of a common model of political representation is hard to be dealing with this. We will briefly compare three completely different case studies to answer our question topic.

In authoritarian regimes in the Maghreb region we saw the Arab Spring to rise as a unitary revolutionary model of protest against absolutism and political barbarism. People demonstrated massively, occupying the streets, clashing with riot police and militia, demanding a new constitutional model that would bring democracy and the right to vote freely. The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt was achieved after days of street riots and what was lately achieved was a transitional government run by militants in order to pave new electoral process. A couple of weeks ago Tahrir Square was once again broadcasted in world media as the required revolution and democratic transition was badly processed. Still, Egyptians can’t have what they fought for.

In the US, the Occupy Wall Street movement was formed as a reacting response to a new social threat pertaining US economy: excessive unemployment and corporate corruption. Waves of people were gathered all across the American cities to protest against capitalism and its derivatives. The composition of these mass gatherings was widely varied from blue-collar workers to unemployed and from fired professionals to youngsters carrying a bike. Social class biases were omitted and all people manifested against the economic mindset of the US political and economic leadership. Despite the extent of the movement, nothing has been yet achieved but tens of arrests have been registered to police departments. Imagination and ideas are flourishing, but concrete actions are missing.

Greece has been constantly covered by world media since 2009 due to its economic turmoil hitting the Eurozone. Bailout plans, loan agreements, firm statements about the sake of the Eurozone and the Greek economy have been extensively articulated two years now from any official mouth. Social rage and unrest are infiltrated in the country, riots and clashes are outnumbered, poverty is exceeding its historical peak since the 1950s, and decision-makers have trouble in dealing with social unrest. Reforms are waved and there is no convincing plan to escape the crisis. Still, people gathered in the streets are prone to organize strikes but less willing and capable to depict how they want to move ahead.
These three case studies have been triggered from different departing points having though a common feature: the need of changing the current political conditions and bringing about significant transformations in economic and social policy. This demand is growing irrelevantly this last year comparing to the reforms undertaken by the governments. Though hard to explain why people cannot pass from the visualization of the reality they want to the reality they face, it is important to underline that this global movement of change is taking a more persistent and mature character and shape.
In all three case studies people are not satisfied with the existing spectrum of political parties they can choose amid when it comes to voting. The major is-sue widening the decision gap is the lack of fresh political leaders and ideas that would inspire people. And history demonstrates that when people do not have an alternative, they resort to violence and out-rageous behavior which is often blind and fierce.
As political leaderships cannot follow the demands of the electorate what we could expect would be a con-stant discontent and a collective psychological pessimism that would easily cater the existing system of political decision-making. Here applies the well-founded notion of recycling voting which is literally the inclination of the public to vote again and again the same representatives and political parties of the establishment they deplore in shortage of any other reliable solution. This socio-psychological trend ends up to the recycling of the same wasted political ideas and figures otherwise considered as failed.
Therefore the answer to our question topic would not be that easy as politics of the irrepresentable are formed through different aspects of political and cognitive behavior. As an introductory step people should start thinking collectively and share ideas freely. Both social media and public gatherings can contribute. The next step is the immersion of leaders through massive movements as it was used to be in the 18th and 19th century. Leaders bred inside these movements and outside the mechanisms of political parties. I firmly believe that we are moving to the right direction. PR
* Dimitris Rapidis, MSc., Political Analyst & Associate to the Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) in the UK.

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