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Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Whereas more people than ever live in democracies, more people than ever are deeply disappointed by the problem-solving ability of democracy and politics. The gap between voters and their representatives is much smaller these days than a few decades ago, which is due to the media in particular. Yet, many of our citizens are turning away from politics and the democratic decision-making process because they consider government and parliament the domain of an elite they themselves do not belong to or do not want to belong to.  The third paradox is the reaction…of people who call for larger and stronger authorities every time something goes wrong in society…

We need new answers to such questions as what the role of government should be in times of global crisis, what citizens may expect from their governments and how citizens can influence government policy in our democracies…”Business as usual” is the worst possible reponse.  National and international thinking about economic growth will have to change.. We should focus on quality of growth rather quantity…At parliamentary level we require a different attitude with respect to accountability and responsiveness towards our citizens and parliament’s oversight duty.

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Internet has given politicians a channel to transmit directly unmediated information. As a result, citizens have been given the opportunity to participate in different stages of the decision-shaping process, allowing influence on the outcome… Virtual politics and social communication are still insufficient to replace traditional communication based on face-to-face social networking. Despite fast development and good statistical indicators, parliaments should not bask in today’s success and remain mere observers of these achievements.

Parliaments are left with not so many options – but to go where the public is and where the debate takes place.

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The world is changing constantly. That institutions should fail to bear this in mind is unthinkable if they wish to continue be effective. That we be more or less favourable to this trend and although the role of national parliaments remains local, no one can deny the need, in particular for political leaders–and thus, for parliaments–to think globally. Without global vision and awareness, decisions taken locally are very likely to be flawed.

Sometimes I have the feeling that we tend to forget that the State is not an end in itself, but a means to achieving greater human freedom and a more just society.

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The key question that arises involves the types and practices of democratic accountability that are appropriate on the world scale. Which entities should be held accountable and to whom? Contrary to popular belief, weak states and intergovernmental organizations are amongst the most accountable actors, whereas multinational corporations, terrorist networks and even powerful states are amongst the least accountable. We should therefore, as representatives of our people, seek to demand more external accountability of powerful entities engaged in various forms of global governance – indeed a very complicated endeavour, as one dimension of power is that it precisely protects the power-holder from accountability and explains the perseverance of double standards.

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We are faced with an energy crisis, an environmental crisis, the crisis of relations between the developed and less developed world, we bear witness to the crisis of the predominant economic and political system which solely builds upon the functioning of the capital market. This is a crisis which consequently leads to a crisis of governance, leadership and society as a whole.

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A financial crisis has become an economic one, and our countries and our democracies face unique challenges. We must ask ourselves “where do parliaments and national representatives stand in this situation? How can we preserve and promote accountability”…

We can, and we must, make sure that governments implement needed policies to tackle the crisis, as well as mitigate its effects on the livelihoods of our countrymen. But, at the same time, we must also let our citizens know that difficult measures are sometimes necessary, even if not always popular.  In representing those that elected us, we should also be sincere even when it is difficult…

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All who are assembled today have the responsibility to promote human rights at home in our own countries.  Without credible efforts in this respect by those who speak in our midst, all the nice speeches on human rights and women’s rights, on development, peace and democracy must be judged as empty talk. 

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