Last fall we focused on the protests in Stuttgart, Germany, that saw one hundred fifty thousand people taking to the streets in a mid-sized state capital in South West Germany.

The protests started with a few hundred, then thousands, then tens of thousands. When during a demonstration attended by 65,000 people, a sit-in by school children (age 8-15) was violently attacked by the police, causing the loss of both eyes of a bystander in his 60s who stepped in front of the kids to protect them, anger in the city exploded and the size of the demonstration almost tripled the next evening.

National daily papers as well as the weekly Die Zeit took up the theme that had become prominent for many protesters. It was no longer this or that specific local or regional issue: it was frustration of citizens who did no longer feel represented by politicians. It was the start of a democracy movement. The issue of participatory democracy was no longer embraced by a few youngsters, intellectuals, and political activists. The feeling that our democracy is largely fictitious, that it disempowers us, the ordinary citizens, was spreading. That was in September and in October 2010. 

The movement, though braked and to some extent split by a clever mediation process, is continuing its demonstrations. But the massive turn-out seen in late September has receded for the time being, due to the recent state election that gave the German South West the first state government ever that is headed by a prime minister who belongs to the Green Party. 

Many who supported the movement last year place their trust again in a party. A different party, they hope. But as the concrete issues that started the demonstrations are far from resolved, it is possible that the movement will swell again if and when the Greens "cannot deliver" what they promised.

While people were facing the police in Stuttgart, very much the same - in a more militant way - happened in Athens, Greece.

Then, in early 2011, the democracy movement in Tunisia took off, and a month later, we saw the demonstrations on Cairo's Tahir Square.

If anything, it was the awareness that millions in the street can successfully press for significant change, which ignited the Real Democracy, Yes! movement in Spain.

Seems we were right last October when we wrote, "Calls for citizen participation and real democracy are heard outside activist  'direct democracy' circles for the first time."

The idea is spreading, around the world. It is the crisis, in its numerous forms (and it is deciphered today in its interrelated aspect, as economic, political, and ecological!) that is driving people into the streets. Motivating them to become active citizens who assemble in the squares of their cities, joining the debate, voicing grievances, expressing their fears and hopes, defining goals, demanding real change. 

Real democracy, less fictitious, is what we demand. A bit more - NO, a lot more participative. Thus finally empowering all of us, you and me, her and him.