Monday, March 02, 2009

Second post of the day . . .

Yesterday’s regional elections have changed Spain’s political landscape quite significantly. Here in Galicia, the local BNG nationalist party has certainly lost its position of power after the defeat of the coalition between it and the PSOE socialist party. And up in the Basque Country the – rather larger – nationalist PNV party might well be out of power after a couple of decades or more, once all the other parties manage to come together in a massive – and possibly unworkable – coalition.

Galicia’s papers overflow today with impressively-immediate analysis and commentary. The return to government of the right-of-centre PP party is universally seen as a surprise. And I guess that, both relative to the polls of the last month and in light of the record high turn-out which normally favours the Left, it must be counted as a shock. But, as with the financial crisis, if all the reasons now given for it were as obvious before the event as they are now, the really surprising thing is that, as far as I know, no one had the courage to predict it. Reasons adduced this morning include the sort of thing I’ve occasionally touched on here - resentment at the Xunta’s divisive language policies, the bloody-minded arrogance of the minority nationalist partner in the coalition and the willingness of the majority socialist partner to allow it to dictate policies that could only ever appeal to a small minority of voters. As one commentator wrote – and as I’ve claimed in my own regard – not all Gallego-supporting Galicianists are Nationalists. I could write more but, firstly, it’s probably boring and, secondly, I’ve mislaid my notepad.

Coming right down to street level . . . The Spanish word civismo is translated as ‘sense of civic responsibility’ or ‘public spiritedness’. I’ve occasionally noted that, while the Spanish can be the most affable, the most sociable and even the most noble people on the planet, civismo is a quality which is often conspicuous by its absence here. This is because it runs counter to the national trait of individualismo. It’s true that a Spaniard will treat you royally if he or she is aware of your existence but, failing this, you often don’t count. I’m reminded of this by a surprise article in one of the local papers here which carried a photo of a car parked across three parking bays down by the river. The driver is accused of “A total lack of civismo and of respect for others.” And the writer adds that “As usual the grua [tow truck] was not in evidence and was not expected to be.” As it happens, I’ve been compiling an album of such inconsiderate parking practices over the past few months and must post it one day. But I think we’ve had quite enough pix for this week.

But talking of photos . . . I posted one on Saturday of the rubbish outside the new Burger King place after Friday’s revels. I read today that it’s been closed down for not having a licence either for change of use or for the works involved in converting it from a private café into a public burger bar. Which is not now open to the public. Temporarily, at least. Spain is a wonderful place but sometimes it’s also Wonderland.

Finally – Yet another town hall corruption case. As I’ve said before, there’s been so many of these that one wonders what the unlucky few have to do to trigger their arrest. Boast of it? Anyway, one of the more interesting observations on the victory of the PP here yesterday is that it rather proves how little the Galician voters care about the corruption scandal which has enveloped the party in Madrid. As if we didn’t know. In fact, I doubt that they’d care much about it if it were in their own backyard. At least, not during ‘fat cow’ years. But we might be on the cusp of a change.

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