Friday 7 August 2009

10 months of democracy: On the summer break

After reading an article on a German euroblog that covered the Brussels summer break from a failed satirical perspective (sorry, Jochen), I feel like I should say something on this summer break thing.

I have never really understood why democracy has a summer break. Especially one that takes almost two months.

We are living in a world that is more and more complex, with more communication, more meetings, more everything. But every year, large parts of our democracies go on halt for about 15% of the year. In this time, things move slowly or not all. As if live would stop during this time.

Sure, many people go on holidays during this time, schools are out, universities rather empty, and it's usually warmer outside which is not always helpful to foster an atmosphere for work. But I don't see why our elected and non-elected officials should go on the leave for such a long time.

I don't say they are not working during that time, or that they have holidays during two months, but since everybody is out of office at different times during this break, interactive and collaborative work, not to speak of collective decisions, are not really possible meanwhile.

For the rest of the year, the schedules are tight, and decisions have to be taken under enormous time pressure, which you can see regularly by their low quality. All because there are these two month of vacation time.

What I want to say is that I am not sure that the long summer break is of advantage for the democratic process. It disrupts continuity, heightens pressure during the rest of the year, and gives the impression that you can put democracy on a break for quite a long time without problems.

Therefore, and although I am aware that this would mean an important change in routines all over the continent, I think the summer break should be shortened significantly, because I don't want democracy to "disappear" for more than two weeks in a row!