Genius and Europe

Yes, of course. My statement was intended to be ironic. I have argued for years that we in the EU would eventually follow the American model and have only 2-3 parties. However, a different trend has emerged in recent years, with interest parties representing specific interests.

The Vivaldi coalition formed after the 2019 general election in Belgium is a prime example: it took four parties—Christian Democrats (orange), Greens (green), Liberals (blue), and Socialists (red)—493 days after the election to agree on a coalition. These colours represent the four seasons in Antonio Vivaldi’s composition.

This situation is also quite absurd. Having no government for over a year seems to be a new trend in many EU countries. In Germany, there appear to be only two major trends remaining:

  1. Disenchantment with politics
  2. Elections as interest-based elections, where people choose the party that promises to solve their most significant problem. While this is understandable, it is not very helpful if it results in numerous small parties winning.

At least in the Bundestag elections, many people still participate. However, in other elections, often only half of the eligible voters turn out to vote. :frowning:

We have this problem as well
Less than half the eligible voters elect the next government

If you dont vote your stated choice is like going to a restaurant and saying to the wait staff “Surprise me”
Sometimes you will get something wonderful. Sometimes you wont
And you dont get to bitch about it because you abdicated your choice
And yes you still have to pay for it

1 Like

Like in Ratatouille?

This is the part that eludes many.

1 Like

In Luxembourg, voting is mandatory. Deep down, I feel that this goes against my personal beliefs, and it can be quite complex to carry out. Although I’ve never heard of anyone being jailed for not voting, you can receive fines and annoying letters if you don’t provide a valid excuse.

Naturally, there are many protest voters who choose to spoil their ballots, among other things.

However, as I grow older, I find myself believing that this system isn’t so bad for democracy after all. It’s not too much to ask to be required to vote every few years and to give it some thought. If you then decide to spoil your vote, either through postal voting or at the polling station, it still represents an honest opinion. This is better than having 50 percent of the democratic citizens not participating simply because the weather is nice or missing the date just because.

1 Like

Seems like the bare minimum of requirements to be a citizen, no? The US has a voting problem. I think more people vote in America’s Got Talent than in the Presidential Elections.

Absolutly. Especially in times when it is possible to vote by post without giving specific reasons, there are really few reasons (e.g. illness) for me not to take part in an election.

In addition, elections have been won more and more closely in recent times. This only results in frustration for everyone, for non-voters and voters alike. The only difference is probably that the voters still notice that fact.

Australia too AFAIK

Some people fought & died for the right to do this
Use it dammit !
Or maybe there’s a way to say “I give my vote to that guy to use because I trust him” :slight_smile:
Proxy voting happens ALL the time in the business world with shares
Why not elections too ?

1 Like

My voting right just expired because I did not live in Germany for the last 25 years.

There are not many reasons for duo citizenships in Europe. One reason for me to get the German one too, was precisely that I wanted to vote the Bundestag too. I am living longer in Germany than in my country of birth.

In my life, I was also faced with a difficult decision in both countries and also in the European elections, having to choose between plague and cholera - and yet I always found it important to at least vote for democratic parties and not the extremists on both sides of the spectrum.

I have never understood that there are fellow citizens who do not take this right (and this duty) seriously.

Yes, this judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court surprised me too. You can understand that in state and local elections, but in federal elections you could assume that the citizens still have enough interests and knowledge to make an appropriate decision.

On the other hand, 25 years without contact to the country of origin is also a long time. In the UK it’s been 15 years and this group of voters was also excluded from Brexit. These are, for example, decisions where one might think that they are also relevant for citizens living abroad and that decisions can easily be made from afar.

My diagnosis of the low voter turnout here in the US is that thinking people understand that voting doesn’t make much of a practical difference … both parties are controlled by corporatists and fossil fuel interests and so on, such that in large measure they are just foils for each other. Still, I hold my nose and vote for the Lesser Evil. But there’s an idealistic streak here in some that makes the perfect the enemy of the good. I feel its pull, and have to overcome it, or I wouldn’t vote myself.

Another factor is that education here lacks explicit content around critical thinking and, usually, civics. Heck, several states have passed laws making librarians liable for any book a parent decides they don’t like. (In Flori-duh, some schools have closed their entire library in panic at least until the details are sorted out). Teachers get no respect and poor pay, and usually have to buy classroom materials out of their own pockets.

Many parents in the Bible Belt don’t want their children to think critically, and will even say as much, proudly; if their children learn critical thinking, they will reject the very specific doctrines of their faith. They will have gay and transgender friends, and lose interest in the church, to their eternal peril. And as far as politics go, all they need to know is who the Hated Other is, the enemy who must be vanquished in the “culture wars”.

Things have devolved here to the point that I feel we are tipping over into fascism. It could go either way at this point. Trump will be running against a rather moribund opponent who almost needs Trump so he can be the anti-Trump … if the economy doesn’t do well between now and the election, the incumbent always gets the blame and it plays to Trump’s strength, which is that he can play the role of savior. And 40% of the American public, according to one poll, wants the idiot back in office, even after all of the countless perfidies of his administration.

I am embarrassed by my country, and if I weren’t old, I would very likely be leaving it. Although at this point, I don’t know where in the world is reliably stable. Even the Scandanavians have their right wing nut-job problems, and New Zealand has worn out its progressive PM and who knows what will follow her. Canada is better, but IMO just a discrete generation or less behind us. It will catch up to us.

We are living out the practical failure of the Liberal Experiment … even in Europe, politics is increasingly polarized and right wing extremists are a problem in most countries. It’s outside the scope of this site, much less this thread, I suppose, to go into the philosophical reasons for that; I’ll just say that corporations have had their way and now the bills are coming due. The world is running out of both natural and human resources and the levels of exploitation are unsustainable and apparently unstoppable. And we’re already out of time to avoid those bill payments … the best we can do now is make them less bad. If we had the will to.


I agree with this word for word.

1 Like

Well said! And I would like to emphasize above all that these problems also exist in Europe (whether EU or non-EU). It’s depressing.

For politicians, the focus is always on the next elections. Between coalition negotiations and the new election campaign there is little time to tackle any major projects. Latent fascism is everywhere and even in my rich native country of Luxembourg, the youth offshoot of a major party recommended that every citizen should be given the right to arm themselves, since times were so bad… normal in the US, but a no - Go for decades in major parts of Europe.

Solidarity is also going down the drain in Europe (except for Scandinavia) and for years there has been the feeling that it only takes a small spark for fascism to come around the corner somewhere in Europe.

That’s probably why I’m an advocate of the European idea. Unfortunately, England is out now, but at least France and Germany are now so deeply socially and economically linked that another war seems at least unlikely. And the UK, fortunately, is also clearly committed to Europe.

1 Like

In addition, there is often no understanding of the background to such rigid data protection in non-EU countries. In Germany there is certainly a driver here and some are actually paranoid to the point that it can even be economically self-destructive.

However, this attitude is supported by large parts of society and the reason is as trivial as it is simple. 2 dictatorships in the last century have left their mark: the Nazis for both parts of Germany, the STASI with their hundreds of thousands of spies in the GDR. This will have a lasting impact on the country for generations to come.

There is a very strong need in this country for privacy and also to have absolute control over one’s digital identity. This is described here in such a way that everyone must retain the documented right to be “forgotten”. In other words, if I get lost in the digital jungle when I was young and post something that I later regret, then I(!) have to be able to change that. And companies and the state are only allowed to store the absolute minimum about me.

Nevertheless, almost everyone uses Facebook, WA, linkedin, etc., often to complain about data protection there. :slight_smile: . So this is contradictory and a kind of hubris, but at least explainable. However, I think most users have fewer problems with what Meta as a company can do with the data than the fact that these companies use your data e.g. (have to) share with the NSA. That’s where people and legislators say stop, this is going too far. However, the fact that it is naïve to believe that any legislation will prevent this approach is not discussed. And nobody seems to have the appetite or the courage to oppose other technological platforms. In fact, we just chat, pass data protection laws that we cannot implement without our own chips, without our own hardware and hardware manufacturers, without an operating system. In short: all pretty crazy :wink:

I hope you keep it a no-go. I mean all you have to do is look at the daily carnage here to see that doesn’t work.

1 Like

Yup, we still have too many weapons in Europe. And even official registrations don’t avoid rampages, but least we have considerably less murders than the US.

If people want to practice it as a sport, they’re welcome. But then they should leave the stuff in the club and monitored. And hunters etc. are at least in this country apparently in full possession of their mental powers, one very rarely hears anything negative.

US friends of mine lost their 18 year old because his “best” friend just shot him in the head during an argument in the car. Madness. The world isn’t perfect here either, and young people occasionally pull out the knife. But I am convinced that the inhibition threshold is simply much higher. It’s also comforting to know that most of the crazy people on the street don’t carry a gun :slight_smile:

Edit: corrected spelling of rampage

Our societies and the economical systems they are based on produce an ever-increasing number of losers. Rabble-rousers collect the losers and use them for their purposes. Keeping the losers away from education is part of the plan. People with low skills of critical thinking are easier to manipulate. It is a playbook from the 1930s and it still works. It is just so disheartening to observe what is going on, whatever the country is.

I don’t even think there’s a system behind it, but that almost makes it worse :slight_smile:

Reading Marx is quite interesting. Communism is far from my thoughts, especially since it has been clearly demonstrated that that system doesn’t work at all. However, Marx wasn’t a communist either, and he must have turned in his grave a few times when he saw how people accused him and how his name was invoked.

Nonetheless, if one focuses on his description of the consequences of excessive capitalism and how capitalism can only lead to excess, one can’t help but admire his insights and predictions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t spontaneously think of a better solution than capitalism :slight_smile:

@bgrommes (Bob), your post is deserving of it’s own thread.

Bob, you are always welcome in Australia.

In 2023 (to date) we’ve had 241 gun deaths (mostly self inflicted) to your 37,040 (citation below). I would maintain even a single gun death is unacceptable. I have never lived in fear for my family due to gun violence and never owned or contemplated gun ownership. We are blessed by the absence of fear. In Australia, guns remain available for a genuine purpose.

All Constitutions, yours and our own, were intended to be living documents that might adapt to the challenges of the time. If you were to present your Republic’s 22 Founding Fathers with the reality of modern life, with wisdom and compassionate they may on balance, in the words of Edmund Burke “remit some rights, that we may enjoy others”. To a man, their intention was that no-one should live in fear.

Australia is a young country whose Constitution was formed in 1901. Yet, as a nation we’ve voted 44 times to decide on proposals to amend our Constitution as a living document.

We have another Referendum (vote) later this year on a proposal to change our Constitution to enshrine in our Constitution an Indigenous Voice to our Parliament in recognition of the first Australians.

Voting is compulsory in Australia for every person 18 and over. In that respect at least no one is left behind.

Gentle compromise is the oil of successful democracy.

It’s evident that the culture wars to which you refer harden otherwise sensible people - lessening their ability to compromise for the common good.

Kind regards, Andrew

Citation: Gun Deaths by Country 2023