Boisterous Debate vs. Non-Existence
Readers may recall that we have previously reported on brawls breaking out in various parliaments, such as e.g. in Ukraine’s Rada, where we suspect representatives are actually engaging in a form of performance art. Here is the picture again, that shows what perfectly composed imagery is produced in the Rada. Obviously, true professionals are at work there:
Perfect composition: Ukraine’s parliamentary brawlers are true artists.
Image source: firstmemes.com
This is all in good fun of course, but we have recently come across two videos that are quite illustrative. In the Western world, especially in Western Europe, everyone has become used to democracy, and people are by now a bit blasé about it all.
This is not least so because they have realized that voting is usually a waste of time, which has become all the more obvious in recent years, as the eurocracy has taken over and is governing over the heads of national parliaments. Note that EU law is made by an unelected body of appointed professional bureaucrats – the EU parliament is not a true legislative assembly (it is not completely powerless, but it can e.g. not table new legislation).
In countries that are, let us say, a bit less used to democracy, people tend to take it more seriously. Their idealism and their belief that something can be changed are far stronger. The Ukraine is in fact a good example for this. The country has been part of the Soviet Union for decades and part of the Russian empire (and partly Hapsburg Austria) before that. It formally became an independent nation only in December of 1991, via a referendum – the first time its citizens could actually really vote on something in hundreds of years.
Turkey has been a Republic since 1923 already – however, until 1945 it was ruled by a single party. Multi-party democracy was only introduced in 1945, but was interrupted three times by military coups (in 1960, 1971 and 1980). Even during much of the time when civilian rule was officially in place, the military remained the true power behind the throne.
This only began to change in more recent times and it is probably fair to say that Turkey’s citizens are also not exactly taking democracy for granted. Lately it seems that Mr. Erdoğan is bent on reinstalling some sort of autocratic rule in Turkey, even while keeping the superficial trappings of democracy in place.
One of his recent decisions was to lift the immunity of parliamentarians of the Kurdish opposition party HDP under the pretext that they are helping terrorists by supporting the prohibited Kurdish PKK party (in the process Mr. E. is providing us with a striking example of how easily all this “just trust us” terrorism-related legislation can be abused).
We have noticed two things in countries where people have not long been used to the rights Western Europeans take for granted: first of all, their parliaments are usually brim-full. Everybody is present when important legislation is debated. Secondly, parliamentarians are very eager to defend their rights. Brawls like those seen in the Rada are more common as a result of this greater emotional investment.
Here is a video that shows a brawl breaking out among members of Turkey’s constitutional committee during the debate over the suspension of the immunity of HDP representatives. A fight broke out between HDP and AKP (Erdoğan’s party) members, when the former realized they were about to be railroaded.
Brawl between HDP and AKP MPs at a debate of the constitutional committee
It is clear that this brawl is not as artful as those taking place in the Rada, whose members have a lot more experience by now. But Turkey’s MPs are certainly working on it (it’s not the first brawl there either), and it is the spirit that counts. Our point is: the actions of these MPs reflect the fact that no-one wants to see hard and only fairly recently won rights taken away again by yet another self-anointed “savior of the nation” type tinpot autocrat.
Parliaments in Western Europe on the other hand often show that everybody does take the liberal democratic order for granted. As a rule, one sees only a handful of MPs actually taking part in parliamentary debates, as they are evidently busy elsewhere (some of these other activities may be connected to their work and quite legitimate, but we would wager this is not the case all too often). The impression one gets is that no-one is really interested.
An extreme example of this could recently be observed in Sweden’s Riksdag during a session on 8. April 2016. A representative delivered a speech to, well, no-one:
Talking to an empty house in Sweden
We have no idea what the speech was about, and maybe it really wasn’t all that important – still, the only people present appear to be the ones that absolutely have to be there.
People rarely appreciate what they have. This probably explains why it has been possible for Western ruling elites to attack individual liberty with salami tactics unhindered for so long. But even in Western countries it is becoming clear that people feel that something isn’t right – even if they can sometimes not pinpoint what precisely it is that bugs them and unfortunately often tend to fall for snake-oil sellers who aren’t any better than the subjects of their ire.