Monday, June 08, 2009

There’s certainly one hard conclusion that can be drawn from yesterday’s EU elections – If things continue as they are as regards participation, there won’t be anybody at all voting within 20 years. I think turnout was as low as 34% in the UK, against 46% here in Spain and 43% in Europe as a whole. This latter number was 62% in the halcyon days of 1979 but has fallen in every one of the subsequent elections, to reach this new low.

But what else can be concluded? In the middle of a recession and against the background of delirious claims that capitalism is dead, right-of-centre parties won the day both in countries where they’re in opposition (Spain) and in countries where they’re in government (France and Germany). And even extreme right-wing parties progressed to become, it’s said here, ‘the third force’ in Europe. It will be interesting to see how much free speech is allowed to these – including the UK’s dubious BNP party – in Brussels. I imagine not a lot, even though many of our grandparents died for it.

Here in Galicia, the Nationalists suffered an ever larger blow than in the regional elections of a few months ago, seeing their share of the vote fall from 12 to only 9%. They've been complaining a lot recently about the new PP Xunta rolling back the measures they implemented on the promotion/imposition of Gallego but it rather looks as if the public’s sympathy lies with the new government. Whose party actually got over 50% here.

I got my laptop back today, after ‘only’ two weeks. They told me it had been knocked out by static electricity. Which I found rather odd. But not as strange as their claim that they couldn’t get me at all on my mobile last week to tell me it was back from the makers. When I pointed out that my fixed line number was on the repair docket, I got the famous smile. But at least no data had been lost.

Finally, I had a night out with some old and new Spanish friends on Saturday night. It included a rather surreal experience around the issue of child-parent relations. One of the men – acquainted with my own close relationship with my two daughters – told me at least five times in ten minutes how ‘bonito’ this was and how much he aspired to the same. Whereupon his sister-in-law laid into him in no uncertain terms for neglecting both his wife (her sister) and their child. It turned out he’d left them at home - along with his two other kids from a previous marriage. As I’ve said before, I’m well aware Spanish families are not all as close and hunky-dory as we Anglos imagine but they don’t usually wash their dirty linen in public. And certainly not in front of foreigners. Perhaps it was a back-handed compliment to me. I wish.


Ferrolano said...

It was imposition above all else. This I found out a few years ago when assisting a Spanish friend put together some material for the annual reenactment of the “Battle of Brion” in Ferrol. Local government grants were made available for publicity and hand-outs in Gallego and translation into English, but no, no, no to the use of Spanish. The fact that most tourists to the area and to the event were Spanish had no bearing on the matter.

Mind you, there are other areas of Spain who proudly do the same thing – all for the dis-unification of the Nation, which in turn is ironical when you think that as a Continent we are supposed to become more unified, or is it just unionized?

Xoán-Wahn said...

I sort of agree with Ferrolano. I know I haven't been in Galicia long (hell, I'm not there right now) and I really am trying to integrate as much as possible (which means I'll be doing a Gallego course in just a bit) but it does seem like nationalist parties are trying to impose the language more than anything. Yes, Galicia has its own culture and its own language! Yes, everyone has the right to use Gallego and the duty to learn it! But I think someone forgot that Galicia is BILINGUAL. See the BI in there? As in TWO co-official languages!

I find the whole thing really ironic because, even in a more conservative city like Ourense, it seems only the older folks use Gallego on a regular basis. The young (people under 50) seem to just use Spanish all the time. No one even cares if you speak it as long as you're not trying to work for the Xunta. I also hear a lot of criticism that the standard Gallego that they try to impose is really a far cry from both modern, rural Gallego and Galaico-Portugues.

As far as the union of Europe...well, I think Eurovision proves that this is more an ideal than anything else. Just listen to those reactions!

Colin said...

Graciñas, tios.

If you dip into the archives, you'll find a lot of correspondence on this subject over the years, with me arguin in favour of liberty of choice and my more-nationalist readers arguing, cogently and forcibly, in favour of the imposition which the BNG favoured. I always felt there would be a backlash and it seems to have come.

I think it's wonderful that people here chat to each other moving back and forth between Spanish and Gallego but I am aware that Gallego is in a weaker position to Spanish and could eventually die. So, I support promotion but not imposition. Though it's hard to know where the line should fall.

The worst language fanatics are, of course, those who want Gallego/Castrapo cleansed of everything that makes it different from Galaeico-Portuguese. They even want Portuguese sp
ellings imposed. So.

Ata loginho.

Pericles said...

Galicia, it seems, has always looked to the sea, because land communications with the rest of Iberia have been difficult. As such, its people have an "Atlantic" island mindset.

"Archaeology tells us there was extensive trade between Iberia and the British Isles in both the Bronze and Iron Age.

Whether or not Galicia was Celtic, there is archaeological evidence of prehistoric peoples from Brittany settling in Galicia. Recent genetic research too points to peoples all along the Atlantic coast from N Spain to Scandinavia being related since the Ice Age. Substantial trade between the Mediterranean, especially Phoenicia/Carthage, and Britain, especially for tin, is well documented (one theory of the origin of the word 'Britain' is that it is Phoenician Baratanak, 'land of tin'). Although the main Phoenician entrepot in Iberia was Cadiz, it's by no means impossible that traders made use of existing trade patterns between NW Iberia and Britain."

Discover the little that has been left in modern Galician of the old Gallaic language.

As for the EU, the "colleagues" should read Gibbons "Decline & Fall" or better yet, "The People That History Forgot" by Dr. Ernest L. Martin. It's available online.

Chapter 11 is moot.
"Historians have recognized that a tremendous change of attitude and/or temperament took place in the people of Italy, North Africa (and even Spain and Gaul) between the 2nd century B.C.E. and the 3rd century C.E. The truth is, it wasn’t that the native populations (that is, the early Latins, Etruscans, Celts, etc.) changed their basic temperaments. Something very different happened. These areas of western Europe were deluged by great influxes of peoples from other areas of the Roman Empire, notably from the east. It wasn’t the temperament of the people that changed, it was the race. Simon Magus, in going to Rome, came among his own type of people. While in his time there remained a thin veneer of old Latin stock in the west, most of the population of Rome and Italy by the 1st century was made up of Chaldeans, Syrians, Phoenicians, Edomites and Samaritans. Italy, by the 1st century of our era, had become a Semitic country."

It seems that multiracial societies get along WHEN they are NOT multicultural. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do".

Chapter 12 has this to say.
"In short, the mystery cults permeated the city, Italy, and the western provinces only to such an extent as the city, Italy and the provinces were permeated by the stock that had created those religions."

*Frank, "Race Mixture in the Roman Empire," p.707

And remember, these people who had become the new Roman citizenry in the west were in the main sophisticated people who actually were more educated and more literary minded than the early Latins. Many were of the professional classes: educators, physicians, scribes and writers, scientists of various kinds, business people, manufacturers, traders and marketing people, etc. There was certainly nothing inferior about them though they were temperamentally different from the early Latins. Indeed, it could well be argued that these easterners were actually superior to the early Latins because of the many talents they had in which those of the west did not excel as much. It is evident that the easterners displayed psychological or emotional differences from the old Latin stock, and that is especially why they catered to emotional religions and religious beliefs which the early Latins would not have cared to accept. This is where the main differences lay between the two groups."

Does that sound familiar?