Etikettarkiv: Voting

The Disenfranchisement That Isn’t

They are disenfranchised

we’ve heard it more and more in various political analysis always in relation to the so-called grievance parties and their voters, think UKIP, Front National, Sweden Democrats, Vlaams Belang, and even if they are not parties – Trump and to a certain extend Sanders (although for his voters it’s more “quaint but unrealistic”). It’s an argument which has been repeated with higher and higher voices and more and more intensely. You know, like we all do when we are trying to convince ourselves that something we doubt are really the gospel.

I started with looking up what disenfranchised means, and Merriam Webster defines it as

to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially :  to deprive of the right to vote

in other words, in the original meaning it is a conscious act of someone that puts another person in the position of disenfranchisement. But in the criticism I have read is has come to mean a group of people that seemingly have removed themselves from [mainstream] society.

However, my question is – have they? In the latest Edelman Trust Barometer their results show an increasing trust divide towards businesses and governments. Neither, it is felt by the large majority, deliver. Personally, when it comes to politics I agree. More and more I have the sense that [national] politics is kindergarten for overpaid party players that has been elected, not so much based on competence, but because they turned up and that doesn’t dare to take real responsibility. The difference is that since I belong to the informed public, as defined by Edelman, aged 24 – 64; college educated; in top 25% income per age group in each country; report significant media consumption and engagement in business news; my criticism is more likely to be seen as well-informed and to the point while someone not from this group saying the same will be considered as disenfranchised.

Again, I ask, are the voters that vote on these “grievance parties” disenfranchised? Maybe they have looked at their society and see a reality where their worries are not listened to, where they have increasing difficulties in finding jobs that makes ends meet, where ghettos are on the rise, where jobs are moved elsewhere and where politicians, whom frankly often should know better, seems to be locked in endless wars of power instead of doing what they where elected to do – deliver a society of [relative] inclusion. Based on this maybe, just think the thought, these so-called disenfranchised voters have made their analysis and decided to protest almost the only way we can protest in a democratic society – by casting our ballots.

But what happens when they turn up, and don’t forget, grievance parties often get their voters to turn up and vote in a much higher extent than traditional parties, and decide to exercise what at the same time is their citizen right and obligation? They are reproached for voting on the wrong party. If that was me treated like that, I’d be raving mad in white linen. And not only that, I’d be even more convinced that I am right.

So, my advice, to the mainstream parties, should they care and bother – if you want to bridge the widening gulf of distrust meet the grieved electorate and show, with measurable actions and without retreating into populism I mean e.g. globalism is here to stay; that you take their world view seriously and continuously and not just when it’s that time in the election cycle.

Annonser

How Netflix almost ruined EU Net neutrality

Now when the debate sparked by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ blog post on net neutrality “Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality“ has died down and the European Parliament have voted in favour of Net Neutrality and against specialised services, I’d like to take the opportunity to vent my grief a bit. What I say in the header is a tall order, I know. But it is not far off.

First of all, as you might know, when I discuss companies or persons in my blog I don’t mention them by name. This is for several reasons, first of all there is an element of the Golden rule, second the industry is rather small and I hope to continue work in it, and, in the case of Netflix, I don’t want to come across as a disgruntled almost employee. Although, I remain rather unimpressed by Netflix’ EU hiring practises. Further, I think that Netflix doesn’t take their responsibility when it comes to making it simple to be legal on-line seriously. Nor do they go far enough in their actions. This time I felt it was warranted to mention names simply because anything else would have complicated the text beyond means.

But I digress.

In my everyday job I work as Policy advisor to a Member of the European Parliament concentrating on issues like net neutrality, e-commerce, telecommunications, cloud computing to mention a few. This is why I can speak with some certainty of this process since I was involved behind the scenes. And yes, I am a staunch defender of Net neutrality.

I am not going to go into the debate at heart here. The point I hopefully will make is to highlight a view that I often see from US-based companies with EU branches; there is seemingly little or no insight that points of view put forward in the US might affect EU legislation. They also join forces with their EU corporate counterparts in not entirely realising that the European Parliament actually is a parliament with powers and influence.

In his post Mr Hastings made a case for net neutrality and against specialised services, but instead of business, he based his argument on fees for traffic. In his text Mr Hastings state that if telecommunications companies get their way we might not see a new Skype or indeed Netflix again because the fees charged would stop any new ideas from being implemented. Had he stuck to this argument I don’t think there had been any debate; no one wants to be accused of stifling competition, hamper value creation and stop new business from happening.

”Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.” The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu.

But in any case, the impact this ill-timed post had across the Atlantic, where a vote on Net neutrality and Specialised services was taking place, was that it gave the telecommunications companies in Europe wind under their wings and they started to lobby for their point of view; that there is no such a thing as a free lunch, and users must pay for bandwidth. Nothing of which is questionable; but it isn’t the question at hand. Rather the real issue is freedom of doing business. Weaker Net neutrality would make it more difficult to run any business on-line. If the vote had gone a different way Mr Hastings could have had to seriously review his expansion plans for the EU. Is that really what he wanted? This attitude towards the European Parliament is something I frequently see amongst companies, EU & US alike. It is getting better in EU companies, but many US companies whose activities’ spans both sides for the Atlantic seems blissfully unaware of that the European Parliament actually produce legislation that have impact on their business. And if they consider it, they seem to think it is some toy Parliament and when you want to lobby it you just send employees with little or no leverage with the C-suite. Or a VP is coming and is expecting the Parliamentary calendar will change to accommodate them.

Is there really no-one within Netflix that has any view on legislative developments outside the US? Because, the state of net neutrality in the EU will affect Netflix business. Is there no-one that could have advised Mr Hastings to hold off the post to a better time? That maybe a better way to push net neutrality is to speak about preserving, maybe even augmenting, freedom to do business? And is there no one that can enlighten him about the importance of the European Parliament? It governs over 500 million citizens which makes it one of the biggest parliaments in the world. 80% of national EU legislation emanates from the European Parliament. OK, someone say; this post was published on Netflix USA Canada blog and was not at all aimed at EU. This is correct and true, but even if all business is local, corporate standpoints for international corporates rarely are. And if someone high-profiled like Mr Hastings speaks on a relative controversial issue this will have repercussions far beyond what one had identified from the beginning.

The Telecoms Single Market proposal (the proposal that was voted on) will now be reviewed by the Council of the European Union. The Council representatives are expected to adopt a final position on the Telecoms regulation later in 2014. Personally, I hope that the Council maintain the safeguards to protect net neutrality and prohibit network discrimination in Europe. This includes ensuring that this principle can be effectively enforced. Achieving this has not been easy, and in case Netflix wonders, the battle isn’t won. In in the meantime, in the relative vacuum that will be during the election period, we are certainly not helped by blog posts of the likes of Mr Hastings.

European election campaign, Parliament style

This week, 10 September to be exact, the European Parliament will unveil the 2014 election campaign material in Strasbourg. A few lucky had the opportunity to a sneak preview past week.

The campaign has the overall slogan “This time it’s different” (isn’t what they all say?) this is the trailer and it is a dire affair to say the least. According to the EP Communication office they are trying to reach the next line after the already converted, i.e. the group of politically interested that has the intention to vote but for some reason forgets about it when the time comes. Fair enough. But will making slight of refugees’ plight make you vote?

As the rest of the world the European Union is living through a crisis of seldom seen severity, and following the wishes of the EP Presidency the communication department shouldn’t show a happy, preppy, jumpy EU. The film makers certainly succeed in that. So do we understand correct that this campaign isn’t so much a result of long-time branding strategy but more a case of “what the President wants, the President gets”? If so, since when is that a good way forward and for basis for a communication campaign? Also this crisis have managed to draw the attention to the EU, and everything that doesn’t work with the Union, but for the first time almost in its history EU citizens actually realise that it play a role in our everyday life. No, all attention isn’t good attention, but I think there should be a way for the EP to capitalise on this realisation and to encourage voting that way.

We also have the small question about the content as such, sure it is a good thing to fire up the masses and hopefully achieve a good voter turnout. But after watching this do we even know WHOM may vote and stand for office? It isn’t the reason for the film someone says, no, but as you soon will see nowhere in the rest of the material is this said either.

Now, I understand, or rather I cannot even begin to imagine the number of considerations one has to take when developing a campaign like this. Numerous doesn’t begin to describe it. Still, I remain unmoved in my belief that communication strategy is based on research and a long-time vision of how you want to be seen. I have a hard time seeing this happen here. But I hope I’m wrong.