全球綠人秘書長/朝邦基金會董事 顏克莉 撰寫
全球化的世界中的不安全感，正是英國脫歐公投與民粹主義情緒攀升的主因。歐盟海因里希·伯爾基金會(Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union)的執行長Klaus Linsenmeier表示，民粹主義者表現出自己是「人民」聲音的姿態，但是同時也排除了他人 – 「我們代表人民」的想法演變成「我們是唯一的人民」，也否定現代民主社會中的多元元素基礎，反而讓民粹主義成為最不民主的群體。
Brexit and the Missing Dialogue
Keli Yen , Global Greens Coordinator/Board of Director, CP Yen Foundation
The United Kingdom European Union (EU) membership referendum on 23 June 2016, often referred to as the “Brexit”, was not just a vote against Europe, but also an expression of protest against changes wrought by globalisation and against leadership which have enabled social and economic inequalities to worsen. The UK’s decision to leave the EU was a surprise for many around the world, including in Europe and the UK. This CPYF Dialogue Newsletter reflects on what’s underlying the growing disintegration of Europe and of our societies.
The referendum exposed significant divides in British society; between voters under 30 who favoured remaining in the EU versus older voters who favoured leaving, between Scotland and Northern Ireland who voted to remain versus England and Wales who voted to leave, between London which voted remain verses the provinces which voted leave, and between the majority of the public who voted to leave versus their elected representatives in Parliament who overwhelmingly voted to remain.
The sharp increase of google searches in the UK asking “What is the EU” after the referendum indicates a shocking lack of general understanding about the issues involved in the referendum. It can also be argued that for so important an issue as this there has been inadequate public dialogue and deliberation.
Communication is key in politics. The Leave campaign succeeded in connecting with populist sentiments that shaped the referendum’s debate and ultimately the outcome. An increasing number of voters, both in the UK and Europe, feel that globalisation has benefited a small privileged elite, but not them. The public feels it’s unfair they should pay the price for bankers’ failings. Confronted with news dominated by messages of fear, voters yearn for a return to a nostalgic time when life felt simpler, even if that means curbing core freedoms which underpin globalisation, including the free movement of people.
This sense of insecurity in a globalised world was the context for both the UK referendum and the rise of populist politics. Populists express themselves as though they were the voice of “the people”, but at the same time they are exclusive – the notion of “we are the people” becomes “we are the one and only people” and therefore deny the pluralism that is the foundation of modern democracies, making populism undemocratic from the outset, says Klaus Linsenmeier, Director of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union.
The European crisis
The European Union was founded to overcome populist nationalism which destroyed Europe twice in the last century. Economic, social and institutional integration was intended to enable Europe to solve conflicts with dialogue rather than weapons. And many dreamed to overcome the nation state entirely.
Building Europe and its institutions was always an incremental dialogic process; and the European process is characterised by intense deliberations which evolve into pluralistic solutions. Accommodating everybody kept Europeans together, and like in dialogue, requires everyone to be fully committed to the process and to the end outcome. But EU Member States are reluctant to transfer sovereignty to the EU, and so the Union has become an awkward mixture of both a federation of sovereign states and a federal state. The EU nations’ resistance to empower the Union’s institutions severely inhibits the their ability to effectively address the challenges which they collectively face. Local politicians moreover have little incentive to praise the EU for its achievements. If things go well, credit is claimed at the local level, but for political discontents, all blames goes to the EU or another seemingly outside force as scapegoat.
Conversely, there is also a growing movement in Europe which feels that the solution to the EU’s inadequacies is not to abandon it but to strengthen it further, including the possibility of creating a United States of Europe.
Across Europe and the UK what is agreed on is that the EU needs to be reformed.
What future for Europe?
Divides over a vision of the future, as well as growing divisions at social and economic levels continues to be a challenge for the UK, Europe and across the world. The challenges in the energy sector and the need to transform our economy to mitigate and adapt to climate change offer enormous possibilities for better economic and social cooperation for the collective and self-interest. A dialogue on the UK referendum should include a reflection on how we individually and collectively choose to respond to the changes we are experiencing in our lifetime; are we better served by “leaving” our connections to each other or by “remaining” in ever closer union with one another?