written by Evelina Tancheva
It has been 314 days, 7547 hours and 452727 minutes since the beginning of 2019 and it sure looks like this year will go down in the history books as quite eventful. We had multiple voting sessions for the Brexit deal that after the retiring of Theresa May seem to slowly shape the final exit accords. There was also the election of numerous right-wing and far – right (1) presidents and prime ministers worldwide that favor the more conservative ways and approaches to both national and international politics. Nevertheless, a common factor can be seen throughout the electoral campaigns of these leaders, they all used three key points to concentrate on: restricting access to their countries by putting up walls (2) or designing new laws, guaranteeing more employment to the citizens of the country (3) and promising a better future.
However, one of the countries that have captured most of the media´s attention lately is Spain, the chaos in Catalonia has sparked numerous international discussions and now the results of the Second general elections are causing even more discussions in the country itself.
The people are getting tired of the uncertainty that has enveloped the county, Spain has been without a stable government since April, which makes 8 months until the November elections, a country that has a population of 46,7 million (4) people has been without a leader for almost as long as the duration of an average pregnancy. The growth of the Spanish economy has suffered a great blow because of the shaky state of its inner politics, no law could be created, voted or much less passed in the last 8 months and that has also made Brussels nervous.
On the 10th of November, 2019, Spain held Second general elections that in part replicated the results from the ones back in April, however, this time there was a certain surprise that left many people baffled. The winner of the November elections was PSOE (The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, social-democratic political party) and with 28% of the vote now has 120 seats in Congress, followed by PP (The People’s Party, conservative, Christian-democratic political party) with 20.82% of the vote has 88 seats in Congress, a number that has increased with 24,67% since April and the third place is for VOX (a far – right political party) with 15.09% of the vote and has 52 seats in Congress.
Here is where things become interesting, back in April, that third place was occupied by CIUDADANOS (Cs or Citizens–Party of the Citizenry, a center – right party) with 57 seats in Congress. Cs lost 57,19% of its supporters and as a consequence its leader, Albert Rivera resigned publicly one day after the elections.
Vox gained more popularity during the end of last year and the beginning of 2019, with a campaign that aimed to exploit the fear and ignorance of the voters. Vox´s electoral program has 100 points that will supposedly “revive” Spain but the first ten propositions only cut certain hard – fought rights and the picture doesn´t get any better as one follows reading.
The leader of the party, Santiago Abascal expressed his desires on multiple occasions to “rid the country of leftists”, make documented immigrants pay for using the public health system (apart from the standard taxes they already pay just like the Spanish people), immediately deport illegal immigrant no matter where they are from and why they have fled, the introduction of the paternal PIN and of course, the cherry on the cake, protect the bullfighting by law (5) .
For those who are not familiar with the paternal PIN, it is quite easy to explain, the parents would have to sign each time their consent and approval for their children to attend presentations in school containing ethical, social, civic moral or sexual values. All this in order to avoid that the current educational system “converts” their children into homosexual adults.
Vox has also been quite vocal about encouraging heterosexual families to have 3 or more children by conceding them certain incentives. Another main point of the party’s proposed reform is changing the law about gender violence (6) that protects women from their abusing partners. Abascal has also proposed and promoted the construction of a wall in Ceuta and Melilla paid by Morocco (7) (because that worked so well already for a certain President).
The very first point of Vox´s agenda is to suspend Catalonia´s autonomy, created in accordance with the Spanish constitution of 1978, with the aim of guaranteeing limited autonomy of the nationalities and regions that make up Spain. In addition, Vox also wants to ban the rest of the parties that advocate for more independence of certain regions as well, this decision would affect parties such as PNV (Basque National Party) that currently has 7 seats in Congress and Na+ (Navarra Suma).
The protests in Catalonia
Going back to the problem at hand with Catalonia, it started at least a decade ago but intensified in the last couple of years since the illegal independence referendum that took place in 2017 when a fraction of independentists decided to take matters into their hands. This led to great divisions between the people that live in Catalonia, neighbors to this date are not speaking to each other, numerous families have been fractured (8) as well and the wave of violence that it all stirred has been plaguing the streets of the main cities, like Barcelona, creating unsafe environment for everyone, residents, tourists and students included.
After announcing the verdict of the court case against the leaders of the independentist movement, the main streets of Barcelona got flooded with people from all around the province but it wasn’t for a peace walk. The angry protesters set trash bins on fire, threw bottles and stones at everyone that stood in their way, for these protesters, the person that wasn’t with them stood against them.
There are two main groups of protesters that use the social turmoil to stoke the fires of violence, the so called “Tsunami Democratic” that constantly and anonymously organize big groups of people to block roads and especially the border with France, costing more than 25 million euros of losses per day (9) . And there is also a group known as CDR (The Committees for the Defense of the Republic) that brings nothing but violence on the streets. Only last month, a manual (10) was released by them that described in details the weak spots of the police uniforms so that they [the protesters] can do most damage.
So, let´s guess the questions everyone is thinking: what will happen with Catalonia? The truth is, until there is a properly functioning government in Spain, this question cannot be answered. Most people comment about the possibility of enforcing the article 155 of the Constitution [Article 155 allows the Government to take measures in exceptional cases to restore constitutional order or to prevent any great damage to the general interests of Spain, while preserving and respecting the existence of the Autonomous Community, its Law of Autonomy, and its Institutions.] but there is still a long way to go until a decision is reached.
This topic brings us back to our initial point, the results of the elections that are only reinforcing the blockade that was in place before them. PSOE will be constricted to reach an agreement and make a deal with other parties if they want to secure their place on the top.
How long will this uncertainty continue? The people are getting tired of voting, the participation on the last elections had decreased by 3.88%. There are politicians who play games that rely on fear tactics and our society regresses, slowly but surely every time we let said fear cloud our judgment, especially when the moment to vote arrives.
How far will we let fear push us?
written by Evelina Tancheva