Give the Democratic Spring a shelter

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Give the Democratic spring a shelter

15 Years ago, good governance & integrity was being discussed scornfully. Nowadays there is a cautious breakthrough. Corruption and abuse of power seems to be an issue of old men and their paladins. Especially younger generations don’t accept the returning corruption scandals anymore. The most powerful symbol is the 22-year-old student Ala Salah from Sudan in her long white robes. The same bridal wear that mothers and grandmothers wore during earlier protests against the dictatorship in the 1970s. The peaceful dismissal of old Bouteflika as president of Algeria, the election of the 45 year old Zuzana Caputova as president of Slovakia – a polite, quiet person, free of aggression, calm and without suspicions and accusations – and the repeating demonstrations against authoritarian and nationalistic regimes in de Balkan countries, Hungary, Poland and Romania are encouraging signals. The people of Ukraine voted for a drastic power change and changed an oligarch for an actor. In Turkey the ‘new’ mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu,put his bets on an election campaign with love, friendship, smile, peace and children. This was quite different from the war language of president Erdogan and many other ‘cornered’ rulers, who shout about threats, complots and enemies. It’s encouraging that the renewal comes from within and is authentic. It shows that we need to be modest with our Western support. No large-scale programs with too much money and goals that are too ambitious, but tailor-made and on request. The germination of spring in many countries needs time and rest to take root and to grow. The seven miles boots of wealthy donors and Western experts are dangerous and risky.

Give shelter

What we can do as Europe and Western countries is to decrease the power and influence of oligarchs and dictators: To isolate them, to refuse or freeze their bank credits and to deny people with crimes on their conscience access to our countries. It may carry a price, but that’s real solidarity. This policy is logical because of our shared and impressive European values: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the Rule of Law. Formal terms for, as said, politeness, friendship, freedom from aggression and peace. Donor- and training institutes need to recalibrate strategy to the question: How can we support in a sustainable and coordinated way the new popular movements? Not only in the countries themselves, but also in the lobby towards our governments, the European institutions and in monitoring private companies with their business relations.

Spring can then grow into a real summer.

Henk Bruning

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