I’m sorry you lost your vote, what do you need to come along?

In een democratie is het recht om te stemmen een van de meest fundamentele en belangrijkste rechten die aan burgers worden toegekend.

Ondanks de beste inspanningen van regeringen om ervoor te zorgen dat stemmen toegankelijk is en eerlijk verloopt voor iedereen, zijn er nog steeds veel mensen die zich op een verkiezingsdag uitgesloten voelen van het stemproces.

Dit kan te wijten zijn aan diverse redenen, zoals gebrek aan de juiste kiezersidentificatie, registratiefouten of zelfs opzettelijke pogingen om bepaalde groepen van stemming uit te sluiten.

In een meerderheidsdemocratie veronderstellen we dat de minderheid zich wel gaat voegen aan de meerderheid. Niets is echter minder waar. We gaan niet actief onderzoeken welke wijsheid er zit in het stemgedrag van de minderheid.

In dit artikel verkennen we het probleem van ‘verloren’ stemmen en wat er kan worden gedaan om ervoor te zorgen dat elke stemgerechtigde burger een eerlijke en gelijke kans heeft om zijn of haar stem uit te brengen.

Verschillende uitdagingen worden besproken waarmee degenen die hun stemrecht hebben verloren worden geconfronteerd, evenals de stappen die kunnen worden genomen om hen te helpen dit belangrijke recht te herwinnen. Dit aan de hand van het voorbeeld Brazilië.

Helga Schepers

How facilitation technologies can contribute to the mission of governing for 215 million Brazilians after almost a decade of polarization

Groepen die zich voor én tegen de impeachment van toenmalig Braziliaans president Dilma Rouseff hadden uitgesproken in 2016 (foto: Juca Varella/Agência Brasil).
Groepen die zich voor én tegen de impeachment van toenmalig Braziliaans president Dilma Rouseff hadden uitgesproken in 2016 (foto: Juca Varella/Agência Brasil).

The credibility that a considerable portion of the country has given to fake news is associated with the discontent of the populations of most Western democracies for their choices, sometimes electing progressive governments, sometimes conservative ones. Traces of the same symptom, they deal with the unsustainability of a binary decision-making model (either/or), in a democracy format that urgently needs to be reinvented throughout contemporary Western society.

There are dozens of experiences that we have observed for at least two decades, and this has intensified in Latin America, North America, and Europe. If half a population thinks the opposite of the other, there is much more at stake and to be negotiated than an election as it is today can handle.

Our ‘binary democracy’ no longer has the breath to deal with the complexity of our social plurality; on the contrary, it impoverishes the perspective and interests of the diversity of voices that make up our communities and nations, which do not see ballast of belonging in their representatives.

In a 2016 article, I analyzed the phenomenon of unrepresentativeness by mapping the results of municipal elections and noting the victory of nobody in mayorships in dozens of Brazilian municipalities. In these cases, the sum of white and null votes won in cities like São Paulo, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Sorocaba, Ribeirão Preto, and Porto Alegre. As no one comes forward to be sworn in, the second-place winner takes the mayor’s seat by WO.

This is the context in which we see the polarization scenario increasing. There are cases in which the difference between diametrically opposed choices has acquired margins of 1 to 3 percent, in several examples of votes, be they presidential, in plebiscites or in local governments.

The alert is not a suggestion that representative democracy is over, however every day that it does not reinvent itself, more fake news and totalitarian and conservative narratives occupy the space of social perceptions and imaginary, in an attempt to capture hearts and minds…

In Let’s be all Facilitators I present a brief overview of how new language technologies and decision-making practices have occupied national and international experiences for the qualification of representativeness, starting from the universal vote.

We currently have social technology at our disposal, being practiced and tested for over half a century to promote contemporary formats that strengthen representative democracy.

Deep Democracy, for example, is an approach to decision-making in environments of conflict and polarization. The method starts from the premise that ‘No’ is precisely the wisdom needed to compose with the winning decision a less binary way out, one that only pleases and corresponds to one side.

I bring specifically the practice of the 4th Step of Lewis Deep Democracy, which forwards an opportunity to listen more carefully to those who lost the vote.

Whom lost the vote is asked: What do you need to come along?

And why do we ask such a question? Because we believe that the needs of those who lost are also valid and legitimate. Deep Democracy intends to welcome these voices, as long as they are within the parameters of the winning decision.

Through the lens of Deep Democracy, the fake news, as well as, the invasion of the 3 powers on January 8 and the uprising of neo-Pentecostal conservatism are read as big, loud, unconscious ‘NO’s’ of society.

De bestorming van regeringsgebouwen in Brasília door radicale aanhangers van ex-president Bolsonaro op zondag 8 januari 2023 (foto: ANP).
De bestorming van regeringsgebouwen in Brasília door radicale aanhangers van ex-president Bolsonaro op zondag 8 januari 2023 (foto: ANP).

Declared resistance that represents only the tip of the iceberg of deep waters guarding wisdoms that — once the stigmas are overcome — can bring us more precise readings of reality and, therefore, more adequate answers to the cultural and social fragilities and inconsistencies that are part of the history of any society.

These demonstrations of resistance to the Lula government’s choice of democratic path, for example, carry traces of resentments, fears, and social insecurities that have traditionally been viewed by conservative and progressive governments with suspicion and on the defensive, following the example of the June 2013 insurgence.

The point is that when we interpret reality with a binary vision, we unconsciously reproduce an authoritarian and patriarchal culture that, just like Bolsonarism, divides the world between allies and enemies, good people and bad people, crazy people and sane people (and even God’s people versus demons).

The Minister of Racial Equality, Anielle Franco, in a recent article in Folha de São Paulo poses the challenge “to try to break the bubble and talk to people who think differently” from her.

The Minister’s reflection is aligned with our perspective. Ensuring solutions, institutional responses, and the application of public policies that understand these manifestations in a non-Manichean way, contributes to broadening the vision and ‘puncturing bubbles’, basic exercises of a democracy.

As long as we cannot listen to the multiple LOBBY and the needs behind any manifestation, we will maintain a logic of exclusion.

Obviously, those who commit crimes, destroy public property and participate in pro-coup uprisings must be punished by the law. But, as President Lula’s suggestion, it has never been more necessary to follow Jesus’ biblical teachings about separating the wheat from the chaff (Matthew 13.24–30, 36–43).

There are other ways to deal with attacks on democracy and demonstrations against governments, beyond legal punishment. It is the call for a new listening to the needs of communities, to add power and complexity to a model of representation that corresponds to a democracy worthy of the 21st century.

Any sign of a social ‘NO’, whether subtle or violent, is a call for social recognition, which needs tools and approaches, like Deep Democracy and so many others, to be decoded and understood.

Exclusion, heritage and tradition

Brazil is a country forged in conservatism and authoritarianism, in the violent occupation typical of the period of the European imperialist navigations of the 16th and 17th centuries, marked by the usurpation of territories, violation and destruction of original civilizations and enslavement of peoples, all in the name of God. This is a considerable legacy that cannot be erased.

These traditions do not disappear with the election of a progressive government, they have a very long duration (Braudel) and remain as part of an imaginary, reproduced in habits and behaviors.

As president Lula da Silva’s suggestion, it has never been more necessary to follow Jesus’ biblical teachings about separating the wheat from the chaff (foto: Folha de São Paulo).
As president Lula da Silva’s suggestion, it has never been more necessary to follow Jesus’ biblical teachings about separating the wheat from the chaff (foto: Folha de São Paulo).

The power of religions, which is no different in Brazil, has a centuries-old tradition in the politics of uprisings, from progressive to conservative-military ones. The experience of the Base Ecclesial Communities (CEBs) between the 1970s and 1980s, were an example in the country of forces opposed to authoritarianism, contributing in a decisive way to the organization of workers in search of better living conditions in a failed regime, which consequently contributed to the fall of the military dictatorship of 1964.

The present moment, in which a considerable portion of evangelical churches are inclined toward conservatism, is very different. From the spiritual abuse of their faithful, hundreds of Christians in the country today seek treatment for psychological trauma suffered in churches.

Spiritual abuse is a close cousin to emotional abuse — although it wounds more deeply because it often leaves victims isolated from God.”

In the name of the doctrine of ‘spiritual battle’, hundreds of evangelical leaders establish control and domination using as weapons the Biblical Scriptures, doctrine, or their ‘leadership role’, distorting the Biblical word to attack reality, politics, and various social behaviors.

Destarte, I argue that we are living the beginning of the end of the neo-Pentecostal era. There are those who read these lines and think ‘how naive’. However, again I quote Fernand Braudel, who, as a historian, brought me the vision of the long duration of the phenomena.

Fernand Braudel (1902-1985), Frans historicus, lanceerde het idee van de longue durée in de geschiedwetenschap. Hij was in de jaren 1930 verbonden aan o.a. de Universiteit van São Paulo (foto: Père Lachaise, Paris).
Fernand Braudel (1902-1985), Frans historicus, lanceerde het idee van de longue durée in de geschiedwetenschap. Hij was in de jaren 1930 verbonden aan o.a. de Universiteit van São Paulo (foto: Père Lachaise, Paris).

There is a ‘universal ethic’ about power that supports such a ‘prophecy’, that we humans want to see the humiliated exalted and those who lie and usurp power punished.

Historically, the downfall of any empire, movement or government, has to do with its inability to treat its civilization with dignity and justice.

The Protestant Reformation that took place 500 years ago, the same age as the invasion of the territory that became to be called Brazil, moved a social uprising against the Catholic Church and in particular against papal authority, in the face of what were perceived as errors, abuses and discrepancies committed by the Church.

The Reformation changed the structures of Catholic power in a decisive way, displacing the power of the Church after more than a millennium. The state in the West became secular.

Aanhangers van Bolsonaro bestormen Brasilia op zondag 8 januari 2023: een cultuur van angst en bedrog (foto: Folha de São Paulo).
Aanhangers van Bolsonaro bestormen Brasilia op zondag 8 januari 2023: een cultuur van angst en bedrog (foto: Folha de São Paulo).

Neo-Pentecostal churches to a large extent represent today such an excluding totalitarianism, between lies and fear, they produce a worldview that leads their faithful far away from Christ’s words of love hour neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

Any political force that incites fear has a shelf life. As human beings, the more psychologically pressured we are by intrigue and violence the more worn out we become, this in the long run and en masse creates social trauma, conspiracy theories and distortions of reality that we see in totalitarian regimes such as fascism, communism (let’s not deny what it was in practice) and Nazism.

The invoice for Pentecostalism may take a while, but it will come, and memory and history will not delay in presenting documents (statements, images, posts, speeches) as vestiges of the conservative Pentecostal morality to future generations, which, no longer imbued with the partial sense of truth typical of the present time, will be able to judge its behavior and purpose after all.

Democracy XX.I

I see fake news circulating in evangelical circles such as the idea that Michel Foucault will be part of Minister Flávio Dino’s Ministry of Justice, or pastors making lives announcing that the Federal Government intends to destroy and weaken the Brazilian family by removing the Ministry of Family from the Ministry of Women and Human Rights.

Or even more violent statements, like posts of pastors with machine guns paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin: “When all the weapons are owned by the government, it will decide whose property the other weapons belong to” … Beware of the “beauty” of disarmament!”.

Past the momentary despair and disappointment at such a worldview, I step back to look with long-lasting eyes.

I see very clear NOs in these posts, which need listening space and much separation of wheat from chaff to be incorporated into the new moment of public management. And as I reflect on these NOs, I will close with some considerations.

Currently in Brazil the discourse of hate, fear, and oppression comes from many neo-Pentecostal churches. Among errors, abuses and discrepancies they disseminate or base political analysis supported by the word of God, distorting the Gospel.

These are narratives and readings about the country and its leaders that incite believers to distrust, hate, fear and despise the laws and those who think, behave and live differently than they do.

Many laugh when they see Bolsonarists crying and asking God for the fall of Lula, the arrest of Alexandre de Moraes, and military intervention. We should not mock these people, many of them are part of this atmosphere of dread.

We will not be the ones to change their mentality, but we can humanize these relationships by bringing them into the round earth we live in by asking what they need to come with us, in the choice we made to elect this government, which will be here for the next 4 years.

Applied to the case of the 2022 elections in Brazil, it would be like saying: I am (very) sorry that you lost the vote, but democracy won. Anyway, you are also part of this country (perhaps unfortunately — given how lazy it is to have to live with you… but you are), so what do you need to come with us?

Another important point, unlike the 1960s when there was actually a coup d’état in the country, the social movements previously associated with extremism, did not stand in confrontation with Bolsonarism.

The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), for example, in a post in late 2022 says that while some were terrorizing democracy, the movement organized Christmas Without Hunger by donating 100 tons of food to vulnerable families across the country. That’s about it.

It is vital that we associate democracy with peace, tolerance, and respect for differences, and especially that social movements pursue their agendas of fighting for rights and not for civic violence or armed struggle. Democracy is the imperfect political regime that best guarantees that differences live together and respect each other, just as the Christian Gospel preaches.

For this reason, approaches like Deep Democracy claim the voice of those who have lost. Because in order to live and coexist in society we have to tolerate and respect those who think differently, and this includes accepting to co-exist with conservatives, fundamentalists, terraplanists, and neo-fascists, however indigestible that may be.

Het team dat de overgang naar de nieuwe regering onder Lula da Silva begeleide, telde opvallend veel vertegenwoordigers van sociale bewegingen.
Het team dat de overgang naar de nieuwe regering onder Lula da Silva begeleide, telde opvallend veel vertegenwoordigers van sociale bewegingen.

It is not enough that we are all part of the same divided country, in the near future we will have not only fakenews but deepfakenews. Given the technology, in a few years, discerning who is lying in videos and posts will be impossible. To ensure that we are in the same boat, it will be essential to make room to hear all voices, and when I say all voices, I mean ALL voices.

The Lula Government has a great and urgent challenge: to create mechanisms and instances of listening and debate that also include those who lost the elections. To listen to their fears, anxieties and claims, as much as to the claims of those who won. After all, 59 million people is almost the same as 61 million, mathematically speaking.

It is living with Pabllo Vittar and Damares Alves, at the same time (sorry Pabllo Vittar for the analogy). Or, who knows, maybe our eclectic gastronomy is the inspiration? In the ‘all you can eat buffet’ which is the essence of Brazil, for example, a sushi could be placed next to the noodles…

If there is an opening for a “What do you need to come along?”, there will certainly be unreasonable answers, but also questions and demands outside the curve, clarifications, less defensiveness, and resistance from those who think differently.

When we open the possibility of listening, we will see a balance in the solutions that if we were gathered together only we the ‘enlightened progressives’ would not think of, because the different takes us out of our funnel vision.

One side has to take that step. Bolsonarism has already shown what it does when it loses a vote. Let us be inspired by the MST and the Gospel, caring for those most in need and ‘turning the other cheek’ (Luke 6:29).

I think that if Democracy were to speak it would say that it expects ‘the example’ from us to come out of this stronger than it went in.

Corinthians 1.13 talks about love, without it “even if we spoke the language of men and angels, we would be nothing”. We are a secular country, with almost one hundred percent self-declared Christians. This equation challenges us to tolerate and include.

Democracy in Brazil will need a lot of love to take the step towards those who lost the vote, so that unity and the rebuilding of the country can actually start to happen.

Regina Egger Pazzanese

Regina Egger Pazzanese holds a PhD in Social History from the University of São Paulo. As a facilitator of participatory processes, she is part of the Lewis Deep Democracy International Network. She was the first accredited instructor of the Lewis Deep Democracy method in Brazil. She is also a strategic planner assisting governments, foundations, institutes and companies in their processes of organizational development, planning and governance, in search of welcoming ‘no’s’ that contribute to improve public policies and institutional policies. https://reginaeggerpazzanese.medium.com/im-sorry-you-lost-your-vote-what-do-you-need-to-come-along-63a1e8a739ee

Lamento que você perdeu a votação, o que você precisa para vir conosco? Como as tecnologias de facilitação podem contribuir com a missão de governar para 215 milhões de brasileiros após quase uma década de polarização. https://reginaeggerpazzanese.medium.com/lamento-que-voc%C3%AA-perdeu-a-vota%C3%A7%C3%A3o-o-que-voc%C3%AA-precisa-para-vir-conosco-c435a4546115

Lees ook: Brazilië en het decennium van verval (Nieuwsbrief#40): https://cimic-npo.org/2023/02/26/40-015/

Lees verder (inhoud maart2023)

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