Occupy wins Best Democratic Moment of 2011

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Friday, February 03, 2012 View Count = 1858

Occupy wins Best Democratic Moment of 2011

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The results are in for Samara’s contest to discover the Best Democratic Moment of 2011. The five selections were identified and voted on over the month of January. The competition was fierce but the winner, with 29% of the vote, was the Occupy movement. The Occupy protest took place in more than 20 Canadian cities throughout the fall and was closed down when police quietly evicted the protesters in November.

Occupy represents a highly, visible form of engagement—protesting—that brings together people who share a common concern. It can be quite inspiring—even if you don’t entirely agree with the cause—to see a mass of people with their passionate convictions on full display. Consider civil rights marches of the 1960s, or more recently, Egypt’s Arab Spring. Samara’s Best Democratic Moment of 2010 was the anti-prorogation rallies, which also reflects this tradition of protest. 

The Occupy movement is also powerful because it undermines assumptions of an apathetic or unengaged citizenry. While some commentators implored Canadian protestors to “occupy the ballot box,” in fact, most engagement research suggests citizens who protest are very likely to vote.  They still feel they have a stake in the system in a way that less politically engaged citizens have lost. Samara’s November report, The Real Outsiders, showed that Canadians who are less likely to vote are not apathetic or ignorant, but rather they feel they’ve been let down and excluded from the political system. As a result, they turn away from it, and are less likely to protest.

Occupy as a Democratic Moment was contested online with a few people suggesting that it was actually anti-democratic, because of the way it was shut down by authorities.

For Samara’s contest, second, third and fourth places were very close, with the mourning of Jack Layton at 20%, the election of four female premiers at 19% and the youth engagement initiatives at 18%. In fifth place was the May 2011 election with 14%.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

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