The year of popular street protests


2011 has to go down in history as the year of street protests . Street protests happened in several countries, in different continents and for a variety of demands. It happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, India, Greece, Spain, USA, UK, China etc.
Is there anything common in these protests?
Can they be termed successful?
What is the significance of these movements for the future of the World?
In democratic countries street protests take place regularly. But in dictatorships they are very rare. Some of the countries in which protests took place were dictatorships and they were aimed at bringing democracy to their country. In democratic countries street protest took place to make the country more democratic. Thus in India when the politicians were reluctant to make more stringent laws against corruption, a popular movement was able to get the attention of the country and force the legislature to table a new law. In Greece and Spain the unpopular austerity measures forced on the people by Government because of economic crisis brought people on the streets. In USA the usually ignored poor and middle classes started an ‘Occupy’ movement against the neo-conservative economic policies that is putting them in severe hardships.
Another common factor of these movements was they were not very organized protests. Many of them were spontaneous, with the anger of the people pushing them into the streets. The leaders were not veteran politicians and many a time these movements seemed to be leaderless. The aims of the protests were not very concrete, but fluid.
Looking back none of the protest movement can be really termed successful. Many are continuing while some has lost steam. But will the countries involved remain the same after all these protests?
I think all these movements can be termed successful to a varying degree, in the sense that they irreversibly changed some aspects of the society.
In countries were dictators ruled with an iron grip the fear factor among the citizens has been reduced to a great extent. The citizens there are highly unlikely to suffer similar dictatorships again silently. There has been a push towards more democracy throughout the Gulf region.
In democratic countries the political parties will be forced to listen to the people more and more from now on. . It showed that most political parties in democracies are in a world of their own, losing touch with the people. These protests proved that democracy can and should be more dynamic, and the political leaders more responsive to the people in a day to day basis and not only during election time.
Thus the popular street protests of 2011 should make us hopeful of a more democratic, inclusive and egalitarian World in not so distant future.

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