Can Europe Make It?

Apathy has no place in the country that gave birth to democracy

Ioanna Karamitrousi
31 March 2014

The widespread political apathy in Greece has caused much concern among politicians and social scientists. A lot of political scientists believe that social exclusion, disappointment with the political system and the absence of viable alternatives all contribute towards the inhibition of participation in the democratic process. But what is political apathy and what we can do to minimise it?

Political apathy is indifference on the part of any citizen of any country with regards to their attitude towards political activities - for instance: politicians, elections, public opinions or civic responsibility. A broader way of referring to political apathy in a country is to consider its political culture. Political apathy, if left uncontrolled, can bring about the stagnation of any nation's development.

An individual’s political apathy begins with a lack of understanding of politics or government to a certain degree and that makes it more difficult for that individual to see the value in universal suffrage and to see the benefits or costs of new policies that the government proposes. That makes the individual see it as irrational to gain such knowledge, since supposedly there would be no benefit.

Levels and distributions of political apathy are often hard to accurately assess. One can measure political apathy in a given culture by the amount of the citizens’ political involvement, knowledge or activity. Political apathy can be seen to some degree in every society, be it in the developed world or the developing nations, but the degree to which it prevails differs between countries. For a nation to develop and to have its laws function to the fullest effect, there must be a high level of political awareness, such that the ruled and the rulers will serve as a check on one another. In Greece, political apathy is a problem with fewer young adults likely to participate in civic activities than a few decades ago.

It is important not to be politically apathetic and to be educated politically, largely to avoid instances of politicians doing as they please in matters concerning the welfare of the citizens. Political apathy allows politicians to advance their careers over the interests of the people. Hopefully the political landscape will change with the upcoming elections. Apathy has no place in the country that gave birth to democracy. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to decide and participate in governance and decision-making processes.

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