We are the generation which has suffered 10 years of crisis and now we are facing another one. For our generation, life is full of uncertainty and doubt, whether at work, in the family or in politics. People are disappointed and frustrated by the broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Nowadays, citizens have become more demanding. In fact, people have regained an interest in politics, yet at the same time they have lost confidence in politics. That is why I consider our challenge, as young politicians, is to prevent a “lost generation” and a “permanent gap” between citizens and politics. How? Well, first of all our institutions are based on the social, economic and social parameters of a different time so we need a new political agenda with other ways to relate to people. We need to show creativity, empathy and an ability to offer new solutions for a fairer way out of the recession. For example, with a new political agenda including gender, ecological transition and new economy perspectives. We need an European, regional and local scale to manage this.
Young politicians represent a generation that has come of age since the crisis of a decade ago. That 2008 crisis took away our opportunities, our certainties, our security, and many other things. Neither crises nor their effects are natural or inevitable. And the solution we put forward is not neutral. It is politics. It is all about political decisions. So if there is one thing we learnt from the management of the last financial crisis, it is that we cannot pass the burden onto the people.
In tackling the 2008 recession, the priorities included saving the banks, zero deficit, reducing public spending and dismantling the welfare state. Today those austerity policies have been taken a back seat to the health emergency and the public resources we lost have been found lacking. The main lesson we have learnt is that strong public institutions are essential for managing crises and protecting lives. So now we have the chance to make a difference in protecting public services and strengthen public institutions.
As I said before, to update the agenda is urgent and at the same time we must face certain debates which were present in 2008 and now they are back and they might establish a new common sense. It is time that large companies, which have large profits year after year, to contribute more to society; it is time for the banks rescued with public money over the last decade to pay back what they were given; it is time to bravely face the challenges of the present and future and to implement far-reaching policies that lay the foundations of a productive economy driving Europe without depending on other economies; it is time to be much more ambitious in terms of public policy with basic income, environmental policies, rethinking and reshaping our cities, etc.
We should face the need of a new political agenda, the need of different solutions than the ones given during the 2008 crisis and also the need of a new governance.
In my city, Barcelona, we have seen entities and associations making masks and distributing them locally; we have seen how citizen initiatives were helping those who could not leave home to shop; we have been buying books from bookshops which have opened up their virtual stock; we have seen how hotels, libraries, sports and conference centres have become healthcare centres with the collaboration of volunteers, etc. We have seen how cities have gradually changed their uses to protect people and how citizens have managed to organise themselves to set up initiatives, projects, etc. It is good news to see the ability to create partnerships with a common objective and now I am convinced that having seen that, it is time to consider that politics and community affairs go beyond institutions.
What I am trying to say is that for a long time current institutions have been rigid, designed to offer homogeneous responses to an increasingly diverse and complex society that demands targeted solutions. That could not work any longer. The institutions of today have fewer resources and a weaker capacity to intervene than several years ago so it is urgent for politics to look around to see who to approach to create hybrid networks with social, economic, scientific and other stakeholders.
If we want to make a difference in people lives, we should think different than in 2008.