Spain - Is a spoiled vote a vote for democracy?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hey Samuel! How is it all going? I hope everything is Ok.

Well, I am writing to propose you, if you like, to write a short text (15-20 lines) for coverage in my newspaper about the 'spanish revolution', with which we seek views of people who have interesting things to say about it. 

 It is actually quite a special coverage designed by the workers of our online edition, one month after the start of the demonstrations, to join the wave of "indignaciĆ³n" ("outrage") that took root in Spain a few weeks ago.

If you feel like writing, please send it to me before next Thursday 9 June. You can write in the genre of your choice and with complete freedom about any aspect of 15-M that you consider (what you think about the protests, how do you see its future, what impact it has had in countries like UK or US, etc etc.). We would translate it of course into Spanish.

This is my work e-mail: ******@*****

On the other hand, if you have any contacts in Spain or outside Spain that have something interesting to say about the "spanish revolution" and think he/she/they might be willing to write a few lines, do not hesitate to inform me, please.

Nothing more for now, the next I'll tell you other things and about the projects that are ongoing ;-) I wait for your news then.

Big hugs!

Hi mate!

Nice to hear from you - i'll be happy to help, I found the Spain protests really interesting.
Hope my contribution is good enough :)

Here goes:

For my generation, and the generations before, the UK has always been a two-party state.
One party comes into power, promising to rectify the mistakes of the other party, makes its own mistakes, breaks its own promises, and then is replaced, once again, by their rival.
Politicians resign, mired in personal or political scandal, burdened with public mistrust, and are replaced by the same 'different' faces.
Yet voters seem to pass over the chance to learn from history, and attach a small amount of hope to these fresh names. Maybe this new politician will be different?
This hopeless cycle will be familiar to voters in many of the world's nations.

The British public were given some hope in 2010, when a third party, the Liberal Democrats, received a higher percentage of the vote and effectively, because no one party receieved a majority of the public vote, became 'kingmakers' to our usual two parties - the Conservatives and Labour.
The Liberals promised to protect the environment, transistion power back to the people and abolish student tuition fees. They formed a coalition with the Conservative party, came to power on the 11 May, and subsequently tripled student tuition fees, helping to re-establish an education system which favoured the rich and punished the poor.
Understandably, many students (and non-students) were angry - December 2010 saw raging (for British standards, anyway) protests in London, in which protesters clashed, mostly peacefully, but occassionally violently, with the baton-wielding riot police.

What was achieved by this burst of indignation? How did the new coalition government take this feedback on board, and try to reflect the will of the people they are supposed to represent?
They didn't, of course.
Instead, the mainstream media worked hard to locate and photograph the small minority of students who damaged public property - painting the entire protest as the work of selfish, petty student thugs. The usually-neutral BBC even launched an undeserved character assassination on a disabled protester who was dragged out of his chair by police during the demonstration.
Here lies the reason that true change and true public representation is so resistant in the UK, and the US, and many other 'democratic' states - so long as large portions of the mass media are privately owned and ran as a profit-seeking enterprise, the politicans, lobbyists and corporate/ media tycoons will be too tempted to conspire to line each others pockets and protect each others interests - interests that benefit only a very small percentage of their country's population.
Deep down, I think the British people know this, and a feeling of helpless political apathy has developed - They're all the same - pretty much reflects the political opinion of your average British citizen.
But many British people still buy cheap, unchallenging tabloid newspapers - ideal for a quick fix of current events after a hard day's work. They still eat their tea in front of the sparkly, sensational commercial news channels.
And across these corporate media - the message is the same - if you don't vote, you don't deserve an opinion. If you don't vote, you're not a true citizen. Our ancestors died for our right to vote - so we owe them a debt of gratitude - a debt we can repay by voting for, say, Tony Blair, so he and the tabloid press can take our country into another war, losing more of our citizens, creating more demand for the sale of destroyed war instruments, diverting more of the world's money towards the weapon-manufacturing conglomerations who hold sway and influence over the privatised media.

So how do we register our apathy? How do we hear the voices of non-commercial, ethical people when the majority of our media, the loudest and most persistant voice in our lives, is privately owned? How do we receive the encouragement that many people feel the same as we do? How do we get the encouragement to act together, reject the tired old conventions, and bring about real progression?

Social networking sites may be the key.
They were used by a trampled people in the Arabic uprisings, and have now been used by a not-so-trampled, but apathetic people in the nation of Spain, who orchestrated a mass protest in exercising their right not to vote.

Most Europeans won the right to 'free' elections through centuries of bloodshed and sacrifice - now we're slowly coming to realise that voting doesn't make much of a difference, and is a mere token of democracy.
Through the advent of non-corporate social media, our future generations may have a chance to negotiate a rule that truly reflects the will of the people, with minimal interference from the selfish interests of the financial elite.
I suspect that media tycoons will be working on ways to infiltrate and commercialise our social networks, so if we wish to build a genuinely free democracy, it is important that we first protect our free media.