Popular signs ” “to be decoded

The recent elections in Europe raise various questions addressed to the political realm, calling into question also ethics, culture and faith " "

Some have tried to find an interpretative key to the recent elections in Spain and Poland, coupled by those in the United Kingdom, Scotland and France. Even the Irish referendum was put in the same batch. Indeed, when seeking unifying traits a plethora come to the fore: the outcomes of the polls took by surprise the very public opinion, politicians and commentators, as well as the Churches. The results of the various popular votes signal a deep – albeit not always consistent – “yearning for change”; voters conveyed a more or less strong distance from the “palace”, from traditional parties, governments in office, anthropological visions consolidated throughout the centuries. But the specific traits of every electoral round prevail at a deeper reading, analysing case by case. Already now we can highlight a set of differences, although it’s clear that what is happening in Europe deserves closer examination and constant monitoring. In Spain, for example, the regional and municipal elections of Sunday May 24 have granted an excellent result to movements born in the streets and as a result of the “no” vote to austerity imposed by the crisis, although the larger parties, the People’s Party and the Socialists, remain the pillars of every political orientation and majority. The People’s party paid a high price for recovery interventions that are delivering good results, although it will take time to remedy an unemployment rate of almost 24%. Thus the “winners”, Podemos, and to a small extent Ciudadanos, are now called to the test by the local government and to a sense of responsibility. Will they manage to capitalize popular support of the administrative elections until the parliamentary elections of next fall? Will they be able to carry out a sound public administration? In fact, while protests require intelligence and courage, governing requires even more of the same. Also Poland went to the polls on Sunday May 24 for the second round of the presidential election. His challenger, Duda, a Conservative with anti-European views, outnumbered the votes of the Liberal outgoing president Komorowski. Citizens thus conveyed their desire for a change. But the economy is sound, democracy stabilised long ago, rights are respected, the Country enjoys the highest budgetary allocation in the EU. It will be up to Duda – along with all the other political forces involved – to interpret this trend. Provided it is not limited to anti-Russian nationalism, and to an indiscriminate “no” to Europe, to which Warsaw owes a certain amount of gratitude. The Irish vote is different under many angles. In the green island citizens said yes to a constitutional change that introduces same-sex marriage in Europe for the first time, thanks to a referendum. This occurred despite the commitment of the Catholic and Protestant Churches. This outcome, in a Country always considered with a Catholic majority population, prompted the alarm of a “cultural revolution” under way. On the part of the Church there developed a blunt reading of reality and of its recent social and cultural transformations, perhaps not sufficiently perceived in terms of their bearing, sometimes even underestimated, however not fully understood. Other reflections and questions may arise at a closer reading of the development ongoing in Greece at default-risk, in the United Kingdom tempted by the “Brexit”, by the electoral test that awaits Turkey June 7… If we wish to find a unifying motivation for the latest “popular” signs it could take place at this level. Changes are taking place at supersonic speed in contemporary societies; reality travels at the pace of a tweet or an email. The solid ethical constructions of the past are put to dire test, and are often superseded by individual and social behaviours, by current events, by epochal “genetic mutations” that proceed near us without being fully understood. Stakes are played at ever-changing pace and every political realm every Church, every institution, every family, every school, every media outlet is called to stay in step with the times. Politics cannot renounce the solidity of ethical tenets, in the quest for democratic consensus. On her part, the Catholic Church must remain faithful to a tireless education commitment, to concrete solidarity and to the counter current teachings in the Gospel of Jesus. It’s an uphill road for everyone, loaded with questions and poor in answers. But it’s the path to be undertaken with renewed wisdom and intensified courage.

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