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The Europe Roundup: How the Indignados Movement is Redefining Politics

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, October 18 2011

  • Spain | How the Indignados Movement is Redefining Politics 
    While the OccupyWallStreet protest spread around the world, it's time to rethink action and objectives for those who helped start this movement, the Spanish indignados.
    With just a month left before the elections (called in advance by PM Zapatero, elections are set on November 20th) the 15-M movement – as it's called because it was launched on May 15th – has shown an eagerness for real change,shifting the scope of Spanish politics.

    On the Guardian PdF friend and speaker Diego Beas summarizes the experience of the indignados movement as it has developed in the past five months:

     The movement has studiously avoided engaging with ideological agendas, unions and, most importantly, professional politicians. It has filled city squares, co-ordinated online actions and targeted specific topics like banking and electoral reform. It has experimented with bottom-up networked approaches to challenge the rigid, top-down, party driven system that has dominated Spanish political life since 1978. City square by city square, individual meeting by individual meeting, thousands of citizens have come together in a networked approach to politics that is fresh and engaging because it defies, above anything else, the hierarchical approach favoured by vested interests.
    The movement's strategy is based on assembling ad hoc citizen coalitions to help push back and challenge specific government actions; trying to figure out how to affect policy by exerting force on specific choke points in the system that badly needs reform. Politicians worried about intra-party politics, re-election or special interests can't see the importance of this. It's about using the power of the network to break entrenched silos and find ways to make the political process more responsive to the needs of everyday citizens. 

    hat started as a youth-centred movement is now becoming an independent force that wants to be involved in the political process. And it may have an impact, but only if it won't be forced to follow traditional paths, concludes Beas:

    The next step is to start thinking in terms of outcomes. Not in the traditional electoral sense – it won't change the result of the election, nor should it try to. It needs to redefine goals, metrics and ways to interpret and understand government accountability and political participation. It needs to create a sense of hope among the general public that, alongside the established tired politics of old – which we still need, otherwise Spain would become like Egypt or Tunisia – a new layer of political participation is collectively being woven. 

  • UK | PM David Cameron joins LinkedIn and Foursquare 
    British Prime Minister David Cameron has recently joined Foursquare and LinkedIn.
    As announced on Number 10, the Prime Minister's official website:

    The move onto the network, which has over 120 million members, is part of a move to engage further with citizens and businesses using digital communications.
    Number 10 has been in contact with a number of professionals who attended the Women on Boards reception at Downing Street last night inviting them to connect with the Prime Minister. It is the intention that Downing Street will continue to connect via LinkedIn with people and businesses the PM meets regarding UK business, enterprise and manufacturing. 

    The Foursquare account provides tips, trivia and history (even ghost stories!) to followers about venues like 10 Downing St., the residence of the PM.
    The core use of the account, though, needs some more effort, says Sarah Perez at TechCrunch:

     The PM’s Foursquare account provides a somewhat voyeuristic look at what a politician does, by tracking who Cameron is meeting with, when and why. Over the past few weeks, before the official announcement was posted, the PM was already checking in to venues including New York, Ontario, the House of Commons and more. It would be more helpful, however, if the PM would consistently check into actual venues, instead of city-sized venues like “Ottawa.” (That’s not how you’re supposed to do it, sir.) 

    The intention may be to humanize the man in troubled times (earlier this week Defense Secretary Liam Fox resigned over allegations of misconduct) but what else can be a good use of such a move for a politician that is not running for office at the moment?

  • EU | European Parliament's intergroups: an opendata list
    In the EU Parliament MEPs are also organized in intergroups, formed of Members from any political group and any committee. In intergroups MEP can hold informal exchanges of views on particular subjects and promote contact with civil society.

    Euroblogger and researcher Ronny Patz has noted that the list of Intergroups is available only as single PDFs.
    To provide a better way to access and use that data he decided to produce a public spreadsheet so that everybody is able to see directly which MEPs are members in which of the 28 intergroups.

    Patz says that will use network analysis to see if there are interesting insights to be found. “Another interesting thing to look at would be to see whether intergroup membership can explain voting patterns, so linking this data with data provided by votewatch.eu or itsyourparliament.eu may be quite revealing, too – at least if intergroups matter.” he adds.
    How would you play with this dataset?

Plus 
Who's the boss of EU? Well, there are four.