16 June 2009

There are democracies, and then there are democracies

The inauguration of a President is no different to any other important occasion in public life, in the sense that, after all the formalities and protocol and signing of documents, there then follows a slap-up dinner.

On 3rd July the new/old President, Mr Köhler, will host a dinner to celebrate his inauguration. As is to be expected on such occasions, the guest list will read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of German public life and the crème-de-la-crème of high society. BUT (unlike some other “democracies”) this event will take place in full public view in front of the Brandenburg Gate and not behind closed doors. Of course, important people and prominent VIPs will be invited BUT one thousand additional guests will also be invited from all around Germany: these lucky few will be selected by the country’s newspapers – all you have to do is write in and say what your wishes are for Germany’s future and its President. A lottery in other words.

As is fitting for an occasion involving such a broad range of social strata, the menu will be modest: fish in aspic jelly for starters, and nice homely casserole as a main course, followed by cakes for dessert. Diners will be able to quaff wine produced by young wine producers – teetotallers will be offered Berlin tap water.

The president will ensure he changes seats frequently so that as many citizens as possible will have a chance to chat with him.

In other “democracies” the people must make their own entertainment and celebrate democracy privately. The Presidents of these people would prefer the company of like-minded individuals and flunkeys. Perhaps they believe that too much contact with the hoi polloi will introduce a miasma into this noble institution. Either that or they fear the masses will find them out.

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Squeaky Door by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.