Unless you don’t live here in Spain, you will be aware that this Sunday is the General Election.
Both major parties have been campaigning, but without much excitement, since it’s obvious that the current opposition, the PP (Partido Popular, Popular Party) is going to trounce the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) government.
With the dire economic situation, everyone knows that an overnight miracle cannot be performed which will suddenly, magically, solve the problems we’re facing, or even ease them. The PP will inherit a very challenging problem of nearly 25% unemployment, a stalled economy and vast debts.
It is said that the aim of bringing the election forward by four months was to divert attention from the hugely unpopular austerity measures, which had triggered ongoing popular dissent around the country. Even here in Andalucia, traditionally a strongly socialist area, the PP will most likely win.
The two dull beardies, Mariano Rajoy Brey (PP) and Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba (PSOE), are both equally lacking in charisma. In their lacklustre televised debate, both avoided giving specifics on how they would implement austerity measures demanded by the EU and IMF, while avoiding further cuts to public sector pay and pensionsm already frozen, as well as inevitable reductions in health, education and social security services. The PSOE wants to tax the rich, while The PP is promising economic recovery and new jobs, but at what cost?
El Mundo published a cartoon showing a Spaniard asking his wife, “After seeing the debate, who do you think will run Spanish policy for the next few years?” “[German Chancellor] Angela Merkel,” replies his wife. Many believe Rajoy is not being completely honest about how he will restart Spain’s economy without drastic reductions in state spending. Well of course he’s not giving the whole story, he’s a Spanish politician on an election campaign – what do you expect?
As one Spanish correspondent of a UK newspaper put it, with the lack of a viable alternative, and the Socialists having lost all credibility, “Spanish conservatives head for power by default”.
The greyness and lack of interest of this lacklustre election was summed up by a woman at a rally: “We are not going to choose the best, so we might as well choose the least worst. That is Rajoy.” So there you have it. The pragmatist will win, and the right will rule Spain for another four years. And the indignados will have plenty more to shout about.