Gregor Gysi is a politician, lawyer and speaker. He has poured his rhetorical talent into book form and focused attention on a problem: If politics is not understandable, democracy suffers.
Berlin – If citizens only understand train stations when making political decisions and, in the worst case, hatred of politicians builds up, then something is going wrong in communication.
Why do politicians talk the way they talk? Why isn’t the message getting through? Why is there so often crackling in the radio contact between the spaceship Berlin and the ground stations “out in the country”? The Berlin left-wing politician Gregor Gysi tries to find answers in his new book “What politicians don’t say”, which will be published this Thursday.
“Politics talks and talks, but more and more people don’t listen,” writes the 74-year-old lawyer, who went into politics in 1989 during the upheaval in the GDR, became the last chairman of the SED and later headed the PDS and the left-wing faction. “Politics conjures up, but more and more people are turning away. Politicians propose, but more and more people are turning down their offers and turning to other, even darker, political sides. Politicians emphasize their honesty, but more and more people are incredulous and suspicious.”
From Gysi’s point of view, the citizens are not completely wrong, because he supports the thesis: politicians can only speak plainly to a certain extent, for fear of being voted out. “Truths are often uncomfortable,” writes the member of the Bundestag. “The general mood is tense. Who would want to trigger resentment among the electorate?” From this follows: “The urge for majorities leads to intentional or involuntary, conscious or unconscious precautions by politicians not to alienate people – especially in the run-up to elections – when struggling for their vote.” .
trust in the state
The topic is not new; concerns about the relationship crisis between the people and their representatives in representative democracy have been growing for years. Most recently, a survey by the Körber Foundation published in December showed that only every second respondent has any trust in democracy – 30 percent had little or no trust. Only 32 percent of the participants expressed trust in the Bundestag and the federal government.
“The dramatic drop in trust in the state and science endangers cohesion,” the Körber Foundation said at the time. “Politics need to be refocused on citizens: decisions must be explained, dialogue must be held at eye level and more participation must be made possible.”
Gysi agrees. Voting tactics and covering up uncomfortable truths are only part of the problem, he sees. In addition, many politicians are unworldly and have too little contact with the reality of their voters; the lack of translation of complex contexts from the parliamentary realm of draft resolutions and verbal monsters; but also the inability of some politicians to express themselves clearly, vividly and convincingly. Then there would be, also not entirely new, the flattening of the debate through talk shows and social networks. “Politics is not an entertainment show,” Gysi states.
But in his book, which he himself describes as chatter, he reveals his own show talent. In anecdotes, the former trained cattle breeder tells how he scores points as a rhetorician: sharpen, shorten, be punchy, remain open, keep an eye on the audience. The book thus also has something of a biographical retrospective and guide, even more than serious in-depth analysis. It reads easily, according to Gysi’s motto: “I talk and the others sleep – that was never my goal.” dpa
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