The crisis of governments caused by populist parties:
German people have always trusted the government and its institutions, a characteristic that has neither been disenthralled nor decayed to a destructive level. This characteristic held the German nation, empire, boundary or the two republics after the Second World War together, lending it the ability to face extraordinary challenges and rising to the circle of superpowers – for a short time, allowedly.
This confidence is now facing its maximum cool down. Governments all over the world are facing this issue, the most astonishing and horrific example is the United States of America with their President Trump who is deteriorating the country’s integrity actively. Nobody predicted such an evolution in Germany, not even before the election of the national parliament in September 2017.
But now the issue of a structural government crisis has arrived in our land, too. The political dictum of common sense and positive dispute, all below the maxim of helping the total to thrive has made room for populistic politics and egoism in every edge of the institutions of political decision-making. Recently, Germany chose a new parliament, the people elected the biggest parliament in our history with seven parties, a novelty. Now the system is blocking itself: after the first coalition negotiations, a party broke up the negotiations and started the crisis. The party’s leader declared on 19th of November, 2017, that his party will no longer take part in the coalition negotiations, with the words: “It is better, not to reign, than to reign faultily!” Nobody expected this to happen, but it did. It shows us the populism overcoming even the old parties in our political systems.
Where did this evolution start?
This issue is a perfect example for the globalisation of our world. Revolutions, wars, terroristic attacks are affecting the whole world now, as the war in Syria did and does. Waves of refugees flooded the European Union, where Germany was one of the countries that did applicate the most refugees, 750,000 in total until 2017. This caused a polarization of political thinking, starting in 2014, developing until today. Additionally, a new conservative party was founded, but it slid fast into the edge, where nationalistic ideas, populism, liberalism, extreme conservatism cumulated. In these days, the party is tearing apart more and more each month. People trying to negate the holocaust even so as people, who want to gain political influence at all costs, egoists, conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites are feeling homelike in this party called AfD. It wasn't doubtful that this kind of party would start to tear the political stability as well as it has been torn apart by individuals itself. This is the new “pseudo-European” spirit: increasing and irrational nationalism, Anti-Europeanism, xenophobia and the will to reinterpret history. Our political systems are facing extreme challenges caused by this issue, but it is surely right, that they also have to search for the causes which led to this evolution in their own past.
Nobody knows, in which way this situation will impact societies in Europe, America, and the world. We are all facing the same issue, some earlier, and some later. Some countries fail below the pressure, some still manage to hold stability – but for how long anymore? Maybe the development in France could be a great opportunity for its neighbour: under the illustrious President Macron, France has managed to not succumb under the influence of their far-right party, the Front National, and is starting to overcome its economic crisis. It is renewing its political system, the society, the way of political thinking.
Maybe we should take France as an example for every country that is facing the same problem right now – and I can't find one country of the great powers of the world which doesn’t. We need to renew our systems, otherwise they will disintegrate slowly. This evolution is taking place in Turkey today. On the other hand, an optimistic mind would detect a challenge here which can lead to better times. A crisis is a bad thing – if you take it in the short-term vision. But a crisis also starts debates, affecting the people to overthink their carefully maintained traditions. And everyone living in pauperism would agree on a renewal of the systems spanning the world, that's for sure.
Leo Club of Neckar-Franken, Germany.
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The differences between countries in their level of development have always fascinated and inspired economists. In 1988, Nobel laureate economist Robert E. Lucas wrote:
"The consequences for human well-being associated with issues such as these (development) are simply staggering: eleven one begins to think about them, it is difficult to think of another thing" .
Today we know that to explain these differences, we have to understand, through the history of the countries, their formal and informal institutions and their political dynamics, how is it that some nations have been able to get out of poverty and build strong democracies, while others remain in vicious circles, where are they? Thus, these few often have an interest in maintaining the status quo and are opposed in a more or less subtle way to possible reforms.
A key aspect to understand the development, or lack of it, is to understand the phenomenon of corruption. Corruption fosters and stabilizes this vicious circle, being both a source of illicit income and power, and a tool to keep a country's institutions weak.
The social sciences have advanced to a lot in explaining the phenomenon of corruption during the last 20 years. It is also proven to have a highly damaging effect on any society, not only in economic terms, but also to undermine the confidence of citizens in their governments, violate human rights and nurture certain undesirable cultural customs; as the "revival culture", for the Colombian case.
While we understand the problem better and better, we are far from understanding what kind of measures are effective against this scourge. Transparency, accountability and citizen participation are preached.
These measures have a value in themselves, since they are key pieces of a real democracy. But do we really know enough about its unmistakable effects and its effectiveness against corruption?
While they are necessary, they also have undesirable effects: they can make public management inflexible and rigid and can have a negative impact on the intrinsic motivation of officials or managers. We do not trust anybody anymore!
Corruption, more than an abstract concept, is a monster that affects the country at all levels of its institutional life, damaging public finances, education, health and the opportunity for development and progress of peoples.
In the moral aspect, it has, like drug trafficking, the negative effect of becoming a paradigm for the masses, lacking in values, whose members try to ascend economically and socially in this way.
By damaging public finances, it prevents governments from having enough funds to cover large needs, such as food and jobs for the poorest.
Although it is not easy to determine the amount that distracts corruption, it is evident that it represents considerable sums, given the fortunes of many officials who arrived poor in the public administration.
The fight against corruption has become an industry with its own interests and preachers. Suddenly it is time to generate fresh looks, carefully reviewing the evidence of academic research and the lessons learned in practice around the world. This is a worthwhile struggle, but it deserves to be based on informed public policies that go beyond following old sayings
To end corruption and begin to solve those problems that really are a priority for the society, it is necessary:
And lastly, the most important thing to stop corruption from happening is that people stop thinking that politicians are indispensable for the design and implementation of public policies. People can be organised by neighbourhoods, groups, paths, localities, to design and implement on their own solutions to the problems that their population suffers.
Leo Natasha Barragán
Leo Club of San Francisco, Panamá
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“The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.
Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”
Deforestation and Forest Degradation have already become global issues. How many are aware that forests also play a critical role in regulating the earth’s climate? Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests and related ecosystems in order to make the land available for other uses. Forest degradation leads to deterioration of the standing vegetation in density, structure and species composition due to human activities and natural causes. It may involve opening of the canopy, modification of the vertical structure, habitat parameters or change of other attributes. Forest degradation does not necessarily involve a reduction of the forest area, instead leads to the decline of the quality of forests. Together, deforestation and forest degradation reduce the area; quality and quantity of vegetation cover and alter the spatial structure of landscape through the process of fragmentation.
Forests cover approximately 31% of the land area on earth. They produce vital oxygen, and many of the worlds’ most threatened and rare animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion human beings depend on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, medicine and shelter.
The estimated natural forests in Sri Lanka are nearly 18% of the land area. It has been around 751 known species of amphibians, birds and mammals and reptiles of which 21.7% are endemic. There are around 3,314 species of vascular plants, of which 26.9% are endemic. Deforestation in Sri Lanka is one of the most severe environmental issues that have appeared to be rapidly for past few years. Sri Lanka’s forest cover, which was around 49% in 1920, has fallen to approximately 18% by now. Between the year 2000 and 2016 the rate of deforestation has been 1.46% per annum over the reasons like massive development projects, large scales of plantations and resettling plans. Loss of forests has a major impact on global warming and biodiversity; consequently, increasing Carbon dioxide percentage, soil erosion, risk of earth slips and spring water drying.
Deforestation should be significantly declined because much of society does not realise the importance of forests and don’t realise how much it influences the world. No need such huge steps; we can simply contribute to the efforts against deforestation.
It’s time to think twice before you harm a tree. Save forests! Save earth! Save your own life!
Leo Iroshima Ponnmperuma
Member of Leo Club of Colombo Host
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There is a famous allegory called “Allegory of the Cave” proposed by the ancient philosopher Plato. In this allegory, Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality. One of the prisoners manage to break his chains one day and discovers that his reality was not what he thought it was, he now perceives the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is seen by the prisoners. When the prisoner returns to the cave, whose eyes have become accustomed to the sunlight, becomes blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. According to Plato, the prisoners would infer from the returning man’s blindness that he has become mad and they should not leave this cave at any cost.
This analogy is the best way to explain a foreign eye the society's mindset. Educated or not, people do not want to change their way of thinking or their reality. As long as what’s happening right now isn’t affecting them, everything is just fine… People become empty headed with no thoughts of their own, start not to think when they need the most because right now all the men that are brave enough to speak the truth are imprisoned.
Instead of fake news, there are no news at all on TV or any other medium, just trivial coverages about the cats, food or the last car crash… When you try to acquire knowledge about what is really happening with the country the things you will find are going to be; people who are supporting men on the top of the pyramid no matter what, dissidents whose only goal is to dispraise even the good thing that are happening or the terrorism supporters that are telling their own lies. There is absolutely nobody, no company, no channel or highbrow to tell you the truth. All they talk about is their own realities built with their imagination. When I wake up everyday the only thing I can think about is this quote from George Orwell in his novel 1984;
War is peace,
We have become ignorant and this is our fault too. The only way to change this, is to be brave enough to seek for the truth. Everything can be changed or undone. We need to break our chains, leave our safe place and wander without fear. We must analyse an issue from all perspectives. We must read but not only from one source, even the ones that we strongly disagree with. We must understand how other people think, without making assumptions. We must even learn new languages in order to acquire information, true information… We must see the unseen and then make it heard. The search for the truth needs to be a way of living rather than a purpose to fulfil. That is the only way we can find the truth, that is the only way we can find salvation.
Leo Can Caner
2nd Vice President of Agora Leo Club, Turkey
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