Spain News Roundup of the Week: March 25 – March 31

Political news abounds this week, readers. Elections were last Sunday and although the results are in, the future is far from certain.

 

Article #1 is about the elections in Andalucía, my current home. It has not been a good election cycle for the PSOE, Spain’s socialist party, which we saw on a national level when the presidential elections went to the PP by a large margin. Here in Andalucía, the PSOE has been in power since Franco’s death and the creation of the new constitution and the autonomous communities, but the prediction was that the PP would gain power here for the first time ever. With only 61% of the electorate voting (11% fewer than in the last local elections), the PP won 50 seats in the Parliament of Andalucía, the PSOE 47, and the IU (United Left) 12. 55 would be a majority, so no one party is in power. This means . . . coalition! The news now is about the discussions between Griñán, the current president and head of the PSOE-A (PSOE of Andalucía) and the IU on the coalition they would make.

 

In addition to Andalucía, the Community of Asturias also had regional elections last Sunday. Their Parliament has 45 seats, of which the PSOE won 17, the IU 5, the PP 10, and Foro, a local party, 12. This means that the left-leaning groups, the PSOE and the IU, have exactly as many seats as the right-leaning groups, the PP and Foro. Who governs? Well, that depends on that last seat, which was won by the UPyD, a progressive and socially liberal party, and if the left-leaning parties can make an agreement with them. The second article discusses an interesting facet of the Asturias election, which is that the 17th seat was won by the PSOE only due to the ballots of emigrant Asturians, that is, people who can vote in Asturias’s elections, but no longer live in Asturias.

 

Those two elections have taken the wind out of the PP’s sails a bit. They were riding high after their resounding victory last November. And right on the heels of these two setbacks came the first general strike in Spain since 2010. I don’t really have much personal experience to recount about the strike, since here in Alcalá it was mostly business as usual, although many stores were closed and there were fewer students and teachers at school. But the news from the bigger cities was that the strike was more disruptive. Protesters blocked roads and driveways to keep buses from running and deliveries from happening. There were also clashes between protesters and police, especially in Barcelona. Despite all this unrest, which bubbled up over the labor reform and austerity measures, the government according to article #3 has vowed to continue with their original plans. No way is this over.

 

All in all, it’s a tough time to be the president, PP’s Mariano Rajoy, nowadays. 2 lost elections and a nationwide strike, and on top of all that he turned 57 years old this week, according to article #4. He didn’t even get to celebrate with his family or in his own country, as he was in Seoul for the Nuclear Security Summit at the time. I would find that to be a bummer, but hey, he at least got to meet Obama.

 

Article #5 made me smile and bookmark it right away, because it talks about bread, and I never even knew until I started studying Hispanic culture how important bread could be. Before coming to Spain, I studied abroad in Mexico, and it seemed like in every single one of my classes that semester, we talked about bread. In my Mexican Culture class, we read a whole book called “Que vivan los tamales” that analyzed Mexican culture in relation to its food. Bread, as opposed to corn tortillas, was discussed as representing European civilization. We even read a short story by Ibarbuengoitia that satirized Latin America’s obsession with bread. For example, have you ever noticed how many expressions in Spanish have to do with bread? If something is very simple, you don’t say “easy as pie”, you say “like eating bread”. Nails aren’t the solution to every problem when you are a hammer, at least not in Spanish. Instead, you say that when someone is hungry, they will naturally think about bread. Well now, according to the article, there are a bunch of mini-companies springing up that deliver freshly baked bread to your door. In fact, the article has another expression concerning bread: the company’s recipie for success is as basic as bread.

 

Hasta la próxima, readers. Hope your day isn’t “as long as a day without bread”.

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