Watching the mass protests in Egypt and Brazil recently, I can’t help but wonder why the same thing isn’t happening in Cyprus.
For better or worse, ‘people power’ worked in both those cases. So why don’t our own people take to the streets when obviously bad decisions are taken, as happens all the time?
After all, the threat of mass mobilisations is exactly why the unions are so powerful.
When the government takes an obviously bad decision like lumbering the Bank of Cyprus with all the employees of bankrupt Laiki – instead of those people losing their jobs, which unfortunately is the only viable option – we’re told it’s because they’re afraid of Laiki employees taking to the streets.
So why don’t the rest of us create our own fear of protest by taking to the streets, when the government offers money to Cyprus Airways, or bends to the will of the unions, or takes any number of dangerous decisions?
We’re told that there are 70,000 unemployed.
If those 70,000 people demonstrated every time the unions tried to strong-arm the government (leaving aside the thousands of hard-working people who might lose their jobs if they spent all day on the streets), they’d at least make it much more difficult for those tactics to succeed!
Why does this not happen? Why does the silent majority stay silent, grumbling darkly in coffee shops, while a greedy minority tries to bankrupt the country? Why don’t we make our voices heard?
I suspect it’s because of the protests that followed Mari (exactly two years ago now) which eventually fizzled out, leading to disillusionment with the whole idea of protest.
In that case, then-President Christofias played the ideology card, claiming the protests were the work of right-wingers opposed to his government.
Now, however, with our economy on the ropes, it will surely be harder to blame unrest on the usual Left/Right divide.
Hopefully, with the help of Facebook and other social media, we can learn how to protest (peacefully, of course) before it’s too late.