Democracy and Social Dialog

The “transition” process in CEE countries consolidated the overwhelming dominance of electoral democracy over constitutional democracy in different forms and intensity. In the context of the crisis and austerity policies similar phenomena can be identified across Europe.

The current situation is clearly marked by a serious erosion of social capital in practically all societies, expressed also in the lowest level of trust in political parties and most important institutions of national governance. Growing inequality and differentiation of the socio-political base opens new opportunities for populist/ nationalist/ extremist political forces to advance and exert a formative impact on national and EU policies.

Simultaneously, space for policy-making has been progressively curtailed by the power of the markets, particularly financial ones, big MNCs and business associations, while national sovereignty is progressively limited by the “rescue” policies of the EU and IMF.

The pressures have been increasingly confronted from below - by an impressive mobilisation of civil society on a number of occasions. The movements of the young and others are unravelling the legitimacy of current policy-making processes and the traditional political actors involved. In that line of conflict trade unions need to find their proper place and avoid the danger of being seen as part of the “delegitimated elites” by the actors from below and as marginal trouble-makers by the actors from above.

The PERC considers vital to expand the reach of trade union policies and generate support from various corners of society accepting union views of the future and interested in protecting and advancing democracy. Taking into account the weaker position of left political forces, TUs will have to concentrate more on the search of alternative policy ideas, effectively disseminate them across the society and improve mobilisation potential.