Monday, June 04, 2007

An editorial in El Pais yesterday said that, with the exception of the high-profile case of Marbella, the voters hadn’t exactly punished those politicians accused of corruption. It expressed the hope this electoral absolution would be made good in court. I assume this means a court of law, rather than of morals. The latter seem to be generally regarded as irrelevant, which El Pais puts down to a web of self-interest.

A week on, I still find it hard to draw hard conclusions re last Sunday’s something-for-everyone elections and I suspect I’m not the only one. But here’s a few titbits:-

- In one council, the deciding vote is held by Spain’s first transsexual woman to become a councillor

- In another, one seat was won by an Elvis impersonator

- In a small town in the Basque Country all 107 papers were either void or blank, with the exception of one, which plumped for the PP candidate. The latter was therefore declared the mayor but is too frightened to take up the position. But he’s not as terrified as the hapless voter who unwittingly elected him by default. And whose identity currently remains unknown but much sought after.

One thing that strikes me is that Madrid votes very strongly right-of-centre, whereas London is very strongly left-of-centre. What on earth does this tell us about British and Spanish society?

An event quite unimaginable in the UK – the police in La Coruña are to auction off 1,200 firearms they’ve collected. But, then, crime rates here are nothing like they are in the UK. And attitudes to guns and hunting are quite different. I hope none of them are bought by the guy who threatened to come to Pontevedra and kill me.

Shipwrecks and treasure hunters [‘the new pirates’] are currently big in the local news. One paper suggests there are at least 500 ships lying along the Galician coast, harbouring the remains of Arab, Visigoth, Viking, French, Dutch and English sailors. Not to mention Spaniards, of course. By a logic I don’t quite understand, all of these wrecks and their contents are said to be part of Galician/Spanish patrimony. Surely it depends on how far out they are.

Finally, a couple of those inexplicable Spanish translations of Anglo-Saxon movie titles:-

Phone Booth – The Last Call

Kiss the Girl – Collection of Lovers


trevor@kalebeul said...

The Guardia Civil had to be called to defend election workers in the tiny village up the road, and hunting rifles were fired in the air after they left. There's a dispute between two bands about some hunting land, and now three of one and two of the other make up the council.

In the tiny village down the road there is also immensely bad feeling, although I'm not sure about what. There some of the voters there wrote "Fagor" on their ballot papers in reference to the mayor down the road shot dead by his rival a few months back.

In a tiny village slightly less further afield the council now consists of 4 illiterate yokels and someone who wants to build a large town on his land down by the river.

Why isn't local democracy like this in England?

Ulixes said...

Regarding the London-Left vs. Madrid-Right issue:

I would suggest two factors (there may be many more):

1. There are more immigrants already naturalised British (and therefore voting) in London than naturalised Spanish in Madrid. Immigration is much more recent in Madrid, so many of them arrived in the last 10 years (in general, this is the amount of time they have to wait to be able to get the citizenship, although there are exceptions).

2. I guess many potential "Tory voters" from London actually live in the Home Counties. In Madrid I guess many of the PP voters live in the City Centre (ChamberĂ­, Salamanca) with some moving to neighbouring councils (for example, Alcobendas), while many of the PSOE voters live in the neighbouring councils (for example, Getafe) or even in other Provincias (Guadalajara, Toledo) and commute from there.

I would say that the posh people in the UK want a big house with a garden in a residential area, while posh people in Spain want a nice flat in the City Centre (if they can afford it!), although this may be changing.

Just my two cents.

Colin said...

Thanks, Ulixes. Certainly very plausible. And it's very true that the rich have different ilusiones. As an estate agent friend here said to me "The troble with the British is they all want something we don't sell to anyone Spanish - a house in the middle of nowhere, with no neighbours . . ".

Colin said...


Great stuff. By the way, loved 'surrealities'. If I've remembered it correctly.

Here the locals kill over centimetres of land. I'm told. Quicker than the courts, apparently. Great places for feuds, villages.

brett said...

I think the a lot of Spanish still see people living in the country as backwards and a throw back to the times when people had to work the land to eat.

Things are changing though I for one am selling my flat in the city to move to a house in the country side and I know a lot of other people my age who would like to do something similar.

Another deciding argument is the "if I have to journey more than 20 mins to work its an eternity" factor. This is something you have commented on in the past, the Spanish in general are obsessed with not having any journey to work or as little as possible, probably down to the fact that most have to make the journey 4 times a day (morning, lunch, back after lunch back in the evening).

Colin said...

Yes, part of Spain's 'patria chica' localism is that travelling more than a few kilometres can be seen as something akin to a space trip. At least here in Galicia. My Spanish friends react with surprise/horror when I tell them I'm going to Portugal [30 minutes away] to get the roast boar I can't get here. Contrast this with Americans for whom time and distance count rather less and who will go 100 miles to dine. And move across the continent to work.

The Spanish timetable is, of course, a thing of wonder. And it surely explains, as Brett says, many aspects of Spanish culture. As I watch the 4-times-a-day traffic jams getting worse and worse [and people crawling home at 10pm], I wonder how much longer it can last. Probably merely another 100 years.

And yes, it's true Spaniards are beginning to move out of the cities. 20 or 30 minutes out of Pontevedra in the hills, the villages are now colonised by commuters from the rpofessional classes. Which is reflected in the house prices, of course. But they still seem happy to live cheek by jowl with their neighbours, in ex-peasant houses crammed into a tiny villages. Few Brits can stand such proximity, it seems. We may be proud to be British but can't stand each other much. . . .

Xoan-Carlos said...

There's also the fact that the Tory's have never put forward an elecable candidate in London (e.g. former convict Jeffrey Archer, executives from greedy public service management companies), whereas Mayor Livingstone is popular with traditional left-wingers for his GLC past, with the not-so-left-wing for his anti-Blairite stance (he was an independent in his first term as mayor) and with the hippy-greens of stoke Newington and Notting Hill