During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been unable to congregate in large groups to protest against government actions (or inaction). Confined to their residences, people began to protest from their windows and balconies.
Problems and Purpose
The COVID-19 pandemic means that people are unable or prohibited from gathering in large groups for any reason. This makes demonstrations and marches protesting against governments impossible in person. In several countries, protests have begun to take place within confinement measures, with people protesting from their windows and balconies in several countries including Brazil, Israel and Kosovo.
Precise reasons for the balcony protests vary across these countries. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has failed to implement a country-wide lockdown and has played down the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation, which has prompted protests against his government's lack of action .
In Israel, protesters argue that President Benjamin Netanyahu's measures are a underhand method of further suppressing democracy in the country, through shutting down legislative and judicial proceedings . Whilst these protests initially took place in the streets, they have since moved to balcony protests .
Background History and Context
Since lockdowns began around the world in an effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, people have taken to their windows and balconies in various acts of solidarity, including mass singing and displaying flags of hope and support.
However, it appears that pot-banging as a form of protest is not entirely novel, and has been seen in Brazil as early as 2016 to express dissatisfaction with former leader Dilma Rousseff.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Balcony protests appear to be organized by civil society groups online and through social media . In Kosovo's capital Prishtine, an anonymous group of activists has been the driving force .
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participation is open to all, although in practice those who are not connected to social media may not be aware of balcony protests in advance.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
During balcony protests, people come to their windows or balconies and bang pots and pans, and/or switch their lights on and off, and generally make a lot of noise and disturbance to express their anger . This takes place at an agreed time through shared through organizers online and through social media. In Brazil, one protest was arranged to take place during the President's televised speech to protest against his apparent lack of concern and action against COVID-19 .
The precise reasons for the balcony protests have varied across countries. In Spain, a balcony protest was organized during the King's televised address to demand that he donate $100 million to the country's health service, following allegations that he accepted money from Saudi Arabia .
In Kosovo, people have protested against the government's general handling of the coronavirus crisis. Disagreement between the governing coalition parties over to how to handle the situation, among existing rifts, led to collapse of the government after a no-confidence vote .
In Brazil, the protests are called panelaço (pot) protests and call for the ousting of Bolsonaro, following his downplaying of the coronavirus threat and contradictory messages .
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
At the time of writing (April 1 2020), it is too early to determine any concrete outcomes of the balcony protests. However, some commentators in Brazil have speculated that Bolsanaro's response has drawn such outrage and criticism that it may have lasting political damage .
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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