the protest vote

Ukip’s heartland: immigration, the EU and clean toilets

As the news about Ukip’s extremely strong performance in yesterday’s local elections is the first topic in the news this morning, it is worth watching again this video that the Guardian published about fifty days ago. Yes, we must talk about immigration. We must talk about anxieties triggered by increasing mobilities across the world. Pretending that tensions have not been intensified particularly since 2008 is some kind of political elephantiasis.

But at the same time, watching the last bit of the video and the absurdity around ‘clean toilets’, I can’t help but think the ‘political vacuum’ in Greece – and those who try to fill it in with ‘commitment’, patriotism and ‘pragmatic politics’. Yesterday, for example, Golden Dawn activists attempted to distribute free food only to Greek citizens in the centre of Athens but were stopped by municipal authoriries; this was not the first time and sadly, I am sure it won’t be the last. This is pragmatic politics, according to them – dealing with the rising numbers of poverty and unemployment in the country, (thanks IMF/ECB/EU troika and consecutive Greek governments for three years now!) In Greece, what appeared as a protest vote exactly a year ago in the May national elections is now established as a third party in the polls – and rising. Mind the protest vote; it might transform into something a lot more permanent. A lot more dangerous and there is a good reason for that: When politics (here and elsewhere) happen further and further away from the public sphere, in some corridors of a Eurogroup or conference rooms of multinational corporations, then politics turn into a ghost activity. If ‘the market is a jungle’ and ‘the fittest will survive’, perhaps we need to keep an eye on who the ‘fittest’ might be, how they might dress up as ‘responsible’, ‘present’ and ‘reliable’ – and thus, wake up the ghosts of a time that we thought was past.

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