Democracy and freedom are pretty cool. Case in point - Portugal
Okay, guys. Disclaimer: I am a pretty funny person according to my mom, also not a historian, so just like, bear with me.
The 25th of April is like the 4th of July for the Portuguese. Fireworks and all, only instead of pop music we have revolutionary music made by mostly communists.
Basically, until the 25th of April of 1974 we had douchebags in power that were repressing our freedom of expression and running this country like they owned the place (which they actually did). Our military had really cool dudes conspiring against the dictatorship and eventually they took over the communication means and military bases during the revolution, making the bad dudes surrender WITHOUT! using violence.
There was a flower-selling lady giving carnations to soldiers (cheapest flowers at the time - maaaan were we poor) who then put the flowers in their gun barrels. That is why it became known as the Carnation Revolution, and why it is the best national holiday ever.
We celebrate our 45th anniversary, which not only means we look good for our age, but also that our individual and collective freedoms have been guaranteed for 45 years, including our rights to representation and voting. Perhaps that is why we feel so disconnected from the importance of these values.
I have never had to fight for the right to vote, for the existence of parties of different ideologies, both left and right, or even for peace in the country or the continent in which we live in. I am well aware that this is not the case everywhere and I am quite grateful. But that does not mean that we do not have to fight for other issues.
The right to vote only translates into representation when we exercise it.
And even if we now value, for example, the freedom to travel across the Schengen countries (many times through European Union funds), there is no guarantee that this will continue to happen if we do not make it clear to the people who have the duty to represent us in the European Parliament. We will elect these people on the 26 May.
Freedom of movement and Erasmus, fighting climate change or youth unemployment. These are not concerns of the generation that fought for the democratic revolution in Portugal back in 1974. They are concerns of a generation that cares about maintaining a peace that was not easily achieved and creating a sustainable future.
We all celebrate the 25th of April here. We post on social media photos of the carnation we received, we keep telling the story of our revolution to our foreign friends from Erasmus or the internet and we boast about it non-stop. We make memes with funny moments from our politicians since we no longer have the Counter Information (which was like our funny fake news programme at the time, only for laughs, who knew).
We do it in different ways, but we all celebrate freedom and democracy. And when we elect a politician and s/he does not implement legislation that represents us, we have the possibility of having her/him dismissed from office. This is a very powerful mechanism, one that assures us that politicians are dependent on who votes for them.
Moreover, when we expressed ourselves and mobilised like we did for the last climate strike in Portugal, we showed that we are capable of impacting the agenda of our politicians! It actually worked, guys!!
Now imagine just how much we could achieve if each and every one of us voted in these European elections.
If you give a sh*t, #giveavote.