Nikos Vatopoulos NIKOS VATOPOULOS

The importance of silent majorities

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics

During the era of PASOK’s omnipotence, which was 30 years or more ago, the main opposition at the time, New Democracy, tended to refer to the silent majority in its political rhetoric.

It based this on the belief that the broad middle class did not join street protests or rallies, did not shout and did not provoke. In other words, it just minded its own business.

Of course, the elections of 1980, which PASOK won, showed that the idea of a silent majority was completely relative and developments since then, across the world, has led to more complex and cautious assessments and interpretations of the electorate.

However, the term silent majority (which enjoyed a historic moment when Charles de Gaulle triumphed after the May uprisings in 1968) made a return recently when it was used in relation to the mass demonstration in Barcelona in favor of Spanish unity. Some wanted to suggest that this was a moment marking the gradual rallying of a Europe driven by common sense.

However, even those who highlight this trend (if it is actually accurate) are remaining low key. Those who are pining for old Europe are also nostalgic for those clear social coordinates that, to a large extent, supported the Union’s construction.

There can be no doubt that the European trend of responding to populism, disobedience and apostasy from representative democracy is gradually becoming visible. There is a clear sense that a new vision is necessary and everything that French President Emmanuel Macron is trying to do, as a fervent supporter of a new European architecture, is related to these needs and concerns.

However, the experience in all European countries, from Greece to the United Kingdon and from Spain to Poland, proves that each effort to dissect society and to predict people’s political movements is unlikely to be accurate, or at least runs the serious risk of being misleading.

On the other hand, democracies also operate with crucial relative majorities, as the re-election of German Chancellor Angela Merkel proved. Nevertheless, European societies are still going through a transition process and the unrest in Catalonia, the crisis in the UK underline this. We are awaiting the result of the elections in Austria.

It remains to be seen if Greece will be able to justify the theory of the silent majority at the next elections. After many years during which conspiracy theories and the culture of victimhood dominated, it may be that Greek society will show that this relative majority, this critical mass to keep the country from going under, actually exists.

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