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Do people live in a democracy they deserve?

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“Disillusionment with politics”, “abstentions in elections”, “rise of extremism” are just one of the few phrases we hear more and more about EU member states, especially about the countries of the former Eastern bloc. EU citizens feel that democracies have failed them on many levels but what could be a feasible solution?
Source: Flickr.com

Democracy is not a gift

Szilágyi Soewarni Eszter | 2016. September 16. 23:55

Most people think that living in a democracy is a self-evident right, that they deserve it unconditionally. Even though democracy should be accessible and behooves everybody, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a well-functioning democratic system would be a gift. Citizens have to work hard to create a democracy they desire to live in.

Everyone is responsible for the political system they live in. Though the level of democracy is different in each European country, we live in a democratic continent which provides us democratic rights such as the right to protest, to revolt and to make our voice and political opinion to be heard. If we do not use these possibilities, we simply ignore the meaning of democracy: the rule of the people.

*Vote or be quiet!

Voting is one of the most important democratic rights. However, there are many who don’t use this fundamental right but feel nevertheless free to demand a better political system. These citizens deserve living in the democracy they create. If they do not express their political opinion, how could they expect having any changes in their lives? Moreover, how dare they formulate any kind of criticism if they don’t use their most basic tool, which could generate changes? Voting is a visible feedback to decision makers! One might say that voting is worth almost nothing because one vote doesn’t decide anything. Yet this is not really the question of numbers, but of the attitude: by not participating during elections and referendums, we enable others to take a decision in our name.

*Behave as the main actor of democracy

European countries didn’t achieve democratic political systems at the same period in time. Those countries that have had democratic systems for a longer time might have a certain advantage over younger democracies, for the longer a democracy exists, the more it is embedded in national culture.

Nevertheless, we cannot deny that most of the European countries are democratic: despite differences, all EU countries have the freedom of press, freedom to organize manifestations and referendums, have free elections and multi-party systems.

Therefore, for unsatisfied citizens there are two main possibilities: they can complain while staying passive and compare their own countries to richer ones or they can try to better their own system by participating in politics, elections and civil society, creating new opportunities and making their voices heard. This depends on us, the citizens, on how we deal with our resources and possibilities. There will always be “better”, richer countries set as examples to us, but if the grass looks greener on the other side, start watering the grass you are standing on!

Let’s dare believe in the essence of democracy, in the power of the people, let’s dare dream and say: we do deserve a better system, we do have the power to work for it and to fight for a democracy which satisfies our needs.

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