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Simple Spanish Politics: A Background

Simple Spanish Politics: A Background

As the weeks go by and I continue to live and study in Sevilla, I’ve begun to try to uncover deeper layers of Spanish society and one that cannot go unnoticed especially in 2016 is Spanish politics. As one fellow student told me, “It’s a mess”. As I read through news articles from El Pais and El Mundo, Spain’s leading newspapers and also some outside media, I begin to understand the current scene a little better.

So let’s start from the beginning of the current “mess” which happened a little more than a month ago, on December 20th 2015, Spain held the most heated elections since the post Franco era in 1977. Four major political parties went head to head in general elections to elect all 350 seats in Congress of Deputies and 208 seats out of 265 seats in the Senate, which together formed the Cortes Generales, Spain’s bicameral legislature. For decades though Spain’s two major political parties had been the only players in town. If you prefered the right of the political spectrum you voted Partido Popular (PP), and if you leaned to the left you would vote for the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Voting for any other party would have been a wasted vote, similar if you were to vote for the Green Party in the US.

But this year was quite different; there were two new cowboys in town. The Podemos Party, a newly formed party unmistakably on the far left. Which was led by energetic Pablo Iglesias, a self-defined Marxist with a knack for populism and emanating a hippie vibe with his long ponytail and casual apparel.

The second – Ciudadanos – a party whose voters historically supported the policies of the PP but have increasingly grown weary of the PP’s recent stream of corruption scandals. The leader Albert Rivera has been referred by many in the Spanish press as a ‘politibot’ due to his robot-like prescence and sole purpose of leading a political party. He is young, clean cut, good looking, boasts a nice head of hair and without a doubt, an expert at kissing babies.

So how did these two new parties gain so much popularity that they were able to take hold of 105 seats in the Congress of Deputies, creating a political standstill? One must take a look at what is going on overall in Europe. Migrants are rushing to the shores of Europe demanding humanitarian assistance, Europe is still recovering from one of largest financial crisis in a generation and finally with corruption scandals across Europe and especially in Spain, voters domestically were ready for change in political parties.

Now, Spanish voters have demonstrated their opinions by casting their votes for new parties and have upset the powerful Partido Popular. Without an outright majority the party’s leader and current Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, is currently meeting with the King of Spain Felipe VI (a ceremonial procedure) to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition of parties to take control of the Congress of Deputies. But recent news has indicated that no party wants to cooperate and form an alliance. If this is the case, another election may take place to produce new results. I shall keep the readers updated of the unfolding events here in the coming weeks but at the moment there is a hung parliament.

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