Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Parliament of liars + cheats ... picture from Europe

In an interesting article titled "Europe in free fall" (Mint, May 13, 2010), Sunil Khilnani argues that a hung parliament, an economy in a tailspin, the rise of populist xenophobic parties--the vision of a pan-European identity is turning into a chimera.  Some excerpts from the article:
Britain’s collision with uncertainty is part of a more general European condition this spring. Greece is in economic free fall; Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland teeter on the edge. Resentments, long simmering, are turning ugly. And the great virtues around which modern Europe has built its identity—democracy, economic stability, a toleration for cultural diversity—are in shorter supply than I’ve ever seen them.
As the Greek economy collapses, Athens has been engulfed in a series of riots. Protesting students have torched cars and smashed shop windows, chanting “Burn it down, burn it down” about “that brothel parliament”.
The German government, trying to help out the Greeks with a pledge of $30 billion (around Rs1.35 trillion) taxpayer dollars, faces its own popular reaction. Voters have turned against the hitherto respected chancellor, Angela Merkel, and voted her party out of office in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most prosperous state.
In Brussels, Belgium’s government has fallen for the third time in three years, torn apart by language battles between the Flemish and French speakers (“Long live free Flanders, may Belgium die,” shouted a deputy of the Flemish nationalist party in the country’s national parliament earlier this month).
In Hungary, which this summer assumes the presidency of the European Union (EU), a right-wing populist government has just been elected, borne along by a wave of anti-Roma and anti-Semitic xenophobia.
In the Netherlands, which has prided itself on its tolerance of difference, another right-wing movement—this one’s main target is Islam and Muslim immigrants—is poised to do well in the June elections. A Swiss canton votes to ban minarets; the French parliament debates whether to ban the burqa.
Meanwhile, at the EU, the leadership vents against the markets in which they previously placed such trust, for the markets are losing faith in the euro. One has intimations of a citizenry in the grip of fear—and a sense of decline.
My attention was attracted to this photo "Parliament of liars + cheats":

And on this question about Parliament, liars etc, there is this interesting Q & A in
Why are Members of Parliament not allowed to call each other liars in the House of Commons, when we all know this is a prerequisite of the job?
THE QUESTION answers itself: an MP is not allowed to call another MP a liar because he would thereby be telling the truth, thus contravening parliamentary etiquette.(Laurens Otter, Wellington, Salop.)
Parliament has its own version of the English language in which words have meanings different to their use outside. "Liar" can be usefully translated into Parliamentese as "Right honourable Gentleman / Member for.." or even "My honourable friend".  (Paul Worthington, Reutlingen, Germany)
Right now, the only thing uniting the myriad local concerns, across Europe, is a popular dissatisfaction with incumbent leaders, says Sunil Khilnani.  And that is reflected in the picture "Parliament of liars + cheats".  World over as the economic situation worsens, the dissatisfaction with politicians is increasing.  While such dissatisfaction used to be more pronounced in the developing countries, the recent economic meltdown, has brought such feelings to the open even in the western world.