Wednesday

19th Feb 2020

Opinion

Secret demonstration of 200,000 in Lisbon

Last week during the EU summit, the Portuguese Union, CGTP-Intersindical, organised the biggest demonstration in Lisbon in 20 years.

Under the slogan "For a social Europe – Employment with rights" up to 200,000 people gathered to oppose what they believe to be a "neo-liberal" EU reform treaty, which more or less equals the rejected EU constitution.

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  • Portuguese workers demonstrated during the EU summit in Lisbon for a social Europe and employment with rights. (Photo: CGTP-IN)

The funny - or alarming - thing is the fact, that these 200,000 people managed to demonstrate almost unnoticed without being mentioned by the media.

A keyword search on Google news with "demonstration" and "Lisbon" in the Anglophone media brought only three matches. One was in "EU Business", the other two: the English issue of the Hungarian "Javno" as well as on "Aljazeera".

The German-language media shows the same picture, two matches: the Swiss "Tagesanzeiger" and the Austrian "Kurier". Nothing at all in Germany.

Instead of informing their readers of the demonstration of 200,000 in Lisbon the Austrian "Der Standard" preferred to report about a demonstration of 200 to 300 right-wing europhobe activists in Paris.

So why is that? Isn't the message clear? Only a handful of loonies are fighting against this historical treaty. Don't mention the 200,000! Finally in the francophone media: two matches, one "Le Monde" and two, the Chinese News Agency "XINHUA".

Just for fun: let's get some figures to compare: In France there were 310 articles on "Le sommet" (and 722 on Sarkozy's marital life), in Germany there are roughly 350 articles available on the "Erfolg" (success) in Lisbon. And, finally, the UK provides around 200 articles matching the word "EU-summit". All this is according to Google news.

EU propaganda

I am sure there were more reports altogether than available on Google news, but the picture is clear and there is no need for any further comment. 125:1 is roughly the ratio between the "EU Court Circular" - meaning EU propaganda - and the report about an event that 200,000 EU citizens were engaged in.

Now my personal research showed that obviously even journalists who were willing to write about this demonstration just did not know about it. This seems strange in a digitalised world with all its electronic possibilities of communication.

To be fair, we have to consider the question that the event might have not been communicated properly by its organisers. But there were hundreds of journalist sitting in the EU summit's press centre.

Normally this means "sit and wait". Waiting for the press conferences of the presidency and the national briefings, waiting for some insider information from a high ranking civil servant floating down from Olympus to enlighten the masses.

I am sure that many journalists are not happy with this situation. If they left the venue to report about a demonstration that takes place some kilometres away, they would risk missing a summit story. And apart from that, their editors do not seem to be interested in the story at all.

"So, the sad news is, that if the things do not turn out violent at the demonstration, there are no reports," a journalist familiar with EU summits told me.

For me this underlines my thesis on the "success" of this summit: As usual the Heads of States and Governments congratulated themselves after they agreed on the re-labelled EU Constitution.

They boasted that they have managed to get over an institutional crisis, but in fact they just increased the EU's democratic crisis by completely avoiding the citizens. And obviously you should not count too much on the mainstream media to do anything about it.

Thomas Rupp is the coordinator of the European Referendum Campaign

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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