Spain In Pain?
Barcelona, the city of football and culture, took part in the General Elections on Sunday (April 28), as Spain appears at crossroads! Like several other European countries, a far-right party is slowly gaining popularity in Spain, and traditional politics is getting dissipated.
As for now, Spain has its hands full, in regard to finding effective solutions to specific domestic issues, such as the Catalan Independence Movement. That is why Barcelona’s sentiment regarding the General Elections seems a bit different this time…
Barcelona is located at the centre of rebel Spanish region of Catalonia near the Mediterranean Sea. The region has been fighting against Madrid for decades to gain Independence. It was surprising to see that the people of Catalonia, who want to leave Spain, were taking part in the elections on Sunday! The local people were heard telling the media that they were against boycotting the polls, as the Catalonians were interested in winning their ‘right’ by helping their favourite parties form a Government in Madrid!
There is a similarity between the Catalonian Movement and the Liberation War of Bangladesh (1971), as people of both the regions had been involved in a relentless struggle against the rulers to safeguard their language and culture! Catalonia was forced to use ‘Spanish’ as the official language during the dictatorial regime of Francisco Franco Bahamonde. Franco’s Police used to detain people for keeping books, written in Catalan language, in their homes! Later, the situation changed, and now, there are many Catalan-medium schools in Barcelona and other cities in the region. People are known to be much sensitive as regards to their mother-tongue in this particular region of Spain. When a Catalonian is asked a question in Spanish language, he/she gets to reply to the same in Catalan language…
This time, all the major parties carried out their election campaigns in Barcelona in Catalan. Colourful graffiti covered the city ahead of Sunday’s polls. Parties reached the voters through Internet and cell phones. Several political rallies took place in Barcelona and its adjacent areas, and all of them were peaceful! Almost all the parties tried to sensitise people about important issues, such as growing unemployment, pension system, tax reform etc.
This was the third General Election in Spain in the last four years! Currently, this country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula faces various problems, like the Catalonia Movement, Economic Crisis, Refugee Crisis and Corruption… With Spain experiencing an acute political stalemate, the government was unsuccessful in putting forth the General Budget in 2019. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called the General Elections in order to normalise the situation. Apart from the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and main opposition People’s Party or Partido Popular (PP), three more parties have taken part in the elections!
The main factor that determined the General Elections campaign was the emergence and expectation of high percentage of votes towards an ultra-nationalist, racist, far-right party – VOX – founded on December 17, 2013 by former members of the PP. It made the election a battle between the Right-wing and Left-wing parties and also prompted many people (especially in Catalonia) to take part in the elections in order to address the social issues, and not the national issues. That’s why the social-democratic PSOE has received the high percentage of votes in Catalonia. The development is far from being important in the regional or local elections in Catalonia. Catalonia’s quest to win ‘Freedom’ was one of the factors to be contemplated to understand in Spain and Catalonia last month. However, it was not the only important issue! It was all about voters cast their votes upon the traditional Right/Left lines!
As per pre-poll surveys, no party is put to get an ‘absolute majority’ in the Spanish Parliament this time. They would have to make post-poll alliance(s) with small regional parties in order to form the government in Madrid. The results will supposedly be declared within a week. The Political Experts are of the opinion that the outcome will not resolve all the problems. Still, the people of Catalonia believe that they will gain ‘Freedom’ through Parliamentary Democracy!
According to sources close to the Election Commission of Spain, Prime Minister Sanchez’s Socialists are all set to win the snap elections without the necessary majority. At the same time, the far-rights will also make their entry into the Parliament. The trend has raised the spectre of another period of instability for Spain, as Sanchez will have to depend on alliances with hostile rivals in the coming days. Another significant development is the rise of the ultra-nationalist VOX Party that has managed to get just over 10% of the vote. No far-right party had managed to perform well in Spain since the death of Dictator Franco in 1975!
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