The massive demonstrations of 15 October endowed the various indignados movements with an unusual collective worldwide visibility. From Lisbon to New York, from London to Madrid, millions of civically active citizens took to the streets to demonstrate their noisy protest against 'the system'. Biding them was a sense of systemic failure and anti-party oligarchy feeling, enshrined in the main slogan: 'more and better democracy now.'
Of course it is necessary to modulate this indignation, understand the nuances and particularities of each event, and understand the different motivations of each case, as homogeneous political protests are very different from plural and socially diverse ones.
In any case, I think it is clear that there is a large segment of the well informed and civically engaged population participating in a rebellion against the miss-management of the Res Publica and against the current political party structures, as they are unable to meet the demands of the new millennium. As such, and due to the lack of valid institutional partners (read: political parties), these movements set themselves easily on the edge of the system.
Two macro-dimensions help to understand the lack of response from mainstream parties: the European consensus built around the major political forces of the Union (Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals) and the maintenance of an outdated model of party organization.
The European consensus and the absence of political conflict enables a culture of political intervention at the European level, a situation aggravated by the tradition of backstage party negotiation within the closed frame of European institutions. This means that the center-left opposition, instead of presenting themselves as a political alternative to the current European Commission, is seen in the eyes of the public as co-responsible for the current European political program as set by the right wing, conservative-liberal European Commission.
On the other hand, the lack of adaptation to the new social and political conditions of the millennium has incapacitated many left-wing parties to represent the emerging dynamics. Instead, most traditional, mainstream Socialist and Social-democratic parties are busy promoting internal self-representative institutionalized oligarchies exclusively socialized in their intra-party structures, hence miles away from the new forms of active citizenship.
Now it seems to me urgent for Socialists and Social-democratic parties to start a critical reflective process that takes into account these points. In this sense, I think major statutory revisions are needed to modernize party facilities and reactivate their connection with civil society. These reforms should bosom the new social dynamics, provide an ample space to create programmatic alternatives to existing governance paradigms and promote a new set of actors and ways of political socialization, closer to the people and closer to the street.