Friday, 26 October 2012

Youth, Politics and Incredibility

European Leaders on Vacation. Can you spot a young one? Picture Credit: Euronews
 Recently, the Cypriot Ministry of Finance had reevaluated its estimation on the country's fiscal deficit. The new estimation assumed that the 2012 fiscal deficit would amount to 4.5% of GDP, instead of the 3.5% it had originally announce. Now, as the negotiations with Troika are supposed to come to an agreement, new evidence show that in the January-September period of 2012, fiscal deficit amounted to about 3.27% of GDP, instead of 3.08% over the same period in 2011. Note: 2011's deficit reached an astonishing 6.3%.

Although I have credited incredibility as the main source of trouble for most of the EU-periphery, it looks like no-one has learned anything about what I have been saying for months. It is a political tradition in the South to promise things you cannot deliver. And people have always known about this, yet the times when they actually chose to do something about it were extremely rare. People, especially politicians, have very short memories. It looks like they cannot even remember what they promised, promoted, supported last week if this goes against their interests. The worst thing about this situation: People always followed and supported them.

It is really annoying to find people nowadays who are still blinded by ideology. And ideology based on what? A politicians ideas and slogan? I am not at all against believing in people. Far from it. But following people, and especially obsolete political parties, blindly is what got us to this situation. 

People (especially the young) do not believe (much less trust) their governments anymore. Why should they? What has changed over the last 10,20 or sometimes even 30 years? Just the faces. The same ideas, the same persistent ideologies, the same arguments we have heard for thousands of times over the course of our lifetime and that we have grown so accustomed to that we have even stopped paying attention to what they say. 

Why? Because all they do is talk. Assigning blame to one another, talking about what should be done, about what they should have not done, talk, talk, talk. As for action: none.

I do not know whether they have heard that actions speak louder than words. Well, they do really. Most of the people in the EU are now looking at their governments with mistrust. They know they supposedly are there to serve them but what do they do: they serve themselves. 

People in governments, especially those older than 50, are still reminiscing of a time where the world is not as it is now. When they could promise and not deliver, when incompetence did not matter, where people believed and admired politicians in spite of their inability to rule. Well, this is over. The world moves forward and it seems like they are getting left behind. 

It is not just them, however. It is their voters as well. People who are of a certain age, who are too old to protest, to do anything else but work. People who did not have the same access to information and world events, like we now do and who are too stubborn to change their mind, not because they have some good arguments for their beliefs, but because having those belief has so defined them that they can no longer change.

From what I hear, you have to be at least 25 years of age to be elected in the parliament, and over 35 to be elected as a Prime Minister/President. Yet, the majority of nation leaders are much older than that:
  • Mariano Rajoy - Spain: 57
  • Mario Monti - Italy: 69
  • Antonis Samaras - Greece: 61 
  • Demetris Christofias - Cyprus: 66
  • Pedro Passos Coelho - Portugal: 48
  • Fran├žois Hollande - France: 58
  • Angela Merkel - Germany: 58 
In comparison, Sweden's Prime Minister was only 42 when he was elected, Denmark's was 45 as was Norway's. Even more impressive, Finland's Prime Minister, Jyrki Katainen, was just 40 years old when he was elected in 2011, having before been voted as the best Finance Minister in Europe by the Financial Times in 2005, when he was just 34.

I would not support that every young person is better than any older person. Yet, as you may see from above, the political scene in the South needs immediate youthification. And this are just the ages of the nations' leaders since I could not get my hands on the Parliament's average age or the average Cabinet age in each country . I am sure that we will find that most of them are near (if not) retired as well.

The problem is not so much age as persistence to a failed system and false (or belonging to a different age) ideologies. Youths usually lack experience yet they more than compensate for that with drive, determination and the belief that they can change the world. As the older generation sits back, protesting in their armchairs that the world would never change, the youth try to make the change. 

The young ones do not possess the pessimism surrounding most of the older generation. They start life with enthusiasm and will to achieve something to make the world a better place. Yet, due to this political mechanism under which politicians are elected only when they reach retirement age, pessimism and inaction are substituted with more pessimism and inaction. 

The situation reminds me of a George Bernard Shaw quote (although a bit modified to suit the situation):
 
The old look at the world and think "Why?" while the young look at it and think "Why not?".

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