Since we are in the European Year of Citizens should restoration of trust be prioritized?

Theodora Matziropoulou (Greece)
Theodora Matziropoulou (25, Greece)

Since my 17th birthday, I have not missed any voting opportunity given to me. I am a frequent habitué of the polling station, where I vote in for the Municipal, National and European elections. However, there are times when I am not quite sure I am doing the right thing. Exactly like in the cartoon, I have over my shoulder an angel and a demon hovering near my head and arguing strongly. The answer to the question ‘why?’ is the following: because of the lack of trust.

Paraphrasing the Weberian wording, I claim that the Greek State holds the monopoly of ‘legitimized nepotism’ and ‘legitimized clientelism’. I assume that if you were 25 and Greek as I am, you would not be really able to descry the vision of change, which is needed, in the country’s misty political landscape. Would you Mrs Merkel?

It is tremendously difficult to change the system that has brought you out; the system, in and through which you have developed personally. This political and social system shaped the same individuals, who now try to change it. The same factors, which have been the problem itself, are now asked to become the solution to it. The clientelistic social contract has elapsed and the crisis developed from economic to systemic.

It could be said that depreciation of the political system is a natural consequence of the crisis. But what if it derives from the ‘lost generation’ or the generation in Greece was called ‘700 euros generation’ and has ended up being the ‘overqualified 400 euros generation’? In the last elections held in Greece in June 2012, the abstention rate among young voters was estimated at over 60%. It is obvious that for Greece – probably for the whole of Europe – this is also a crisis of transition. A transition, which is a sore one and for this particular reason citizens want to know the purpose they suffer for. Incoherent reform schemes and inconsistent implementations of reforms seem as familiar practices are totally unneeded.

On the other hand, the same lack of trust nudged hundreds of thousands of voters to choose a far right party; this political decision should not be ignored. In this case blame game is one ally. Solidarity of exclusion though, is a card giving an advantage during the lot, affecting the already flimsy coexistence at the same time.

Lack of trust is not a genuine Greek problem. In the European elections of 2009 the abstention among young voters ranged between 64% and 71%, depending on the exact age. This crisis is not only economic but definitely a social and institutional one. It is a crisis of lack of trust that infects the European Construction. Numbers remain numbers of a great importance but in the end they are just numbers. Debts and rates, all the same. Since we are in the European Year of Citizens should not the restoration of trust be prioritized?