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.