In Aspire we are convinced that one way to stay connected to reality in order to be able to act accordingly is to discuss it. A mature discussion about a current situation is not only one of the best ways to use and improve democracy, but it can also be very illustrative and even funny. Especially if at the same time you are sharing a bottle of wine with some nice people.
Located in Vienna, it is obvious that one of the main topics on the agenda these days are the Presidential Elections that gave in the first round on Sunday 24th of April most votes to Norbert Hofer. The candidate supported by the right party FPÖ got a 35,6% of the votes, followed by the “green” Alexander van der Bellen, who was supported by 21% of the Austrians. The two of them will appear in the ballots again this Sunday.
A few days after these results Aspire celebrated its first All-Hands Meeting. After dealing with the topics connected with our work and the organization we decided to discuss these Elections. This Sunday we will finally know who the President of the Bundesrepublik is, but before that, let´s have a look at some of the conclusions that we could get from our interesting and fruitful debate:
- Many of the members of Aspire are foreigners, so we see all these events partly from an outside perspective. We mix skepticism and fear, which led some of us to one question: “are we even wanted here?” It might sound excessive or even sensationalist, but the possibility of repeating the biggest mistakes of our past seems at times closer, and in that context this question would make too much sense. Maybe it’s good to stop a second and ask about how our votes would be seen with another perspective: not only from the point of view of other people, but also from the point of view of the medium-term future, that can show us the dimension that our decisions can have.
- We might not like a lot what happens but we are not surprised. We all know the events that motivate this polarization and this tendency to extremism, although it doesn’t mean that we agree with the approach to them. Society is complex, much more than what the easy cries of patriotism or truth let many people see. And it is precisely this complexity what might push us to radical, direct and supposedly safe options as a way to simplify a reality that, nevertheless, can’t be simplified like this. We must understand what happens around us, without looking for easy explanations and without denying that the same events can make us all feel different. And again, it will be our capacity to stand in each other’s shoes what will help us find the respect and the responsibility that we all need to make the right choices.
- These elections can’t be understood isolated. That is not the world we live in anymore. The political processes in Austria have a lot of relation with the German ones, but also with those in the Scandinavian countries or with the USA; and at the same time they are connected with those in Greece, Italy or Spain. And here the European Union plays a huge role: not only because of its responsibility for some of the mistakes committed in the last years, but also as the most effective (and maybe the only possible) way to overcome our problems and stay strong together. It’s important to look around and comprehend that the world is strongly connected and it is already impossible to think only about your own country trying to leave the others out of the picture.
The discussion kept going for a while, and it left Austrian politics to focus on the basic principles of democracy, the capitalist system, the possibility of the Brexit, the threats of climate change or the conquest of the outer space. This shows again the necessity to look further than the borders of our countries and the impossibility to see a national political process without its interconnections.
Elections are something for what we had to fight so hard. Sunday will be another day to remember that. But also to remember the past, think about the future, and act according to what we really believe it´s best. Let us all be responsible, respectful and generous. Let us all be free. Schönen Wahlsonntag!
(Published in the Blog of Aspire. Manufactury of Change)