Thursday, May 19, 2011

The centre of Madrid - Sol Square - is occupied by around 5,000 young people who are protesting about something. But I'm not sure what. I passed a few dozen young people in the centre of Pontevedra last night who were presumably protesting in sympathy. It all seemed very Spanish as the principal activity was sitting in a circle and chatting. I'm hoping some reader will be able to tell me whether these folk are what the press calls "the idignants" or the people demanding Real Democracy Now!. Or both. Fellow blogger Trever ApSimon has said they're communists but the media refers to them as anarchists. And there is a difference. At least, there was in 1936.

I've just come to this wi-fi café from my doctor's surgery. I wouldn't normally mention this but I wanted to allude to something else that struck me as very Spanish. There were 20 to 30 people waiting there, for various doctors, but the only one reading a book was me. Indeed, the only person reading anything was me - if we discount the woman who made a desultory flick through a leaflet on the table. And this is despite the fact everyone here knows they ain't going to see a doctor at the time of the appointment they've got. Especially when ten of you have been given the same appointment time.

El Mundo reports that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that any German help to Spain, if needed, will be conditional on the Spanish working harder. This, I suspect, is a reference to the ridiculously early - by German standards - retirement age in Spain. Ignoring productivity, the Spanish would be very hard pushed to work longer hours than they do. Which are also ridiculous. And probably would be even without the 2 to 3 hour break in the middle of the day.

But back to adultery. If the figures are to be believed, the French en masse are not much more adventurous than the European average. Globally, 20% of adults have had an extramarital affair. Britain comes in (sorry) at 14%. And the most promiscuous males in Europe are from  - wait for it - Turkey. Unsurprisingly, infidelity increases in the "midlife zone", by which time most couples are bored to tears with each other's company. It's said.

But we have to go back to the topical French. These, some survey has found, are "tolerant of - indeed comfortable with - extramarital affairs to a degree unknown in other countries". Or maybe they just say they are as they regard this as the height of sophistication. Or - as someone French has written - "There may be more understanding in France of human frailty. Before we are judged too harshly for that, let it also be said that relations between the sexes are seen as one of life’s civilised pleasures. But one thing must be firmly stated: libertinage is one thing, criminal behaviour quite another. There is no tolerance of that. But maybe those days are over. In any case, the French do stand out in two respects. First, a public figure - say a politician - is not held accountable for his or her private behaviour, unless it makes them vulnerable to blackmail or somehow affects their ability to do the job. Faithfulness to one’s partner isn’t expected to be an item on the political agenda. Deceit in sexual matters may be seen as a moral flaw but certainly not as a sign that it will lead to lies on questions of policy. In other words, the great need not, necessarily, be good. There is also a strong sense that privacy ought to be protected by law and respected by the media, and that this protection is in the interest of all parties. The families of politicians are better off when private stories do not spill out; they are not hounded into taking action in the face of misbehaviour — they do so if, when, and how they please. As for the media itself, well, the gutter press is not flourishing in France, yet." But the internet is, as we read yesterday. And it's far more powerful than any gutter press. And more immune to legal action. France's halcyon days are well and truly over.

In France, it seems, you get into far more trouble for having your hand in a till than up someone's skirt. In Spain, I suspect neither of these would cause you too many problems. Especially if you're the head of the Andalucian or Valencian government. But I'm happy to be corrected on this, as it would be nice to think there's some integrity somewhere.

Finally . . . Nowt. I've lost my notepad. And I can't wing it any more.

Hang on . . . I've just found an obituary to the eurozone.


Graham said...

Hi, Colin, constant lurker (Graham) in Barcelona here.

We went to the march on the 15th before the campouts here in Barcelona. Democracia Real played some part in organizing these marches, but the camps are somehow autonomous to them.

The issues on the table are popular input and complaints on number of issues: cuts in social and health services, new restrictive laws related to copyright and the Internet, tax and other special privileges from the political elite, corruption and complicity in the established political parties, with the goal of bringing about more participation in the form of popular referenda.

Colin said...

Many thanks for that, Graham. do you think it will make any real impact? Does it get any support from any of the parties?

Pamela said...

Here is an Intro to the Spanish Protests that I think sums it up fairly well.

Colin said...

Thanks, Pamela.

Victor B. said...

Graham said...

It's hard to say exactly what the impact will be, especially because the protests seem to be organized in opposition to the political parties. For one, perhaps the agenda of the parties can adapt itself to the issues that seem important to their public. For another thing, it seems like a new generation of activists are organizing themselves on a national level, which can't be a bad thing.

Ferrolano said...

Yes, I feel that I agree with Graham after reading the; “Intro to the Spanish Protests” and various newspapers and, watching Spanish TV reports it is difficult to say that the protestors are gunning for any one political party, although I also detect that the PSOE think that they are being targeted – a feeling of guilt perhaps?

Who is certainly a target of the protestors are the banks and there I can agree, although maybe for different reasons.

What is also curious and I have to ask, why is the IU involved in the matter and raising an injunction over the issue – does that indicate their previous or future involvement?

What I have worked out is that there is a direct connection with a group that I first heard of about 18 months ago “Plataforma de las Classes Medias” and at the time, some thought that it was inspired by the PP. The following are the links that I had found at the time, and Interestingly, if you follow the blogspot link, you will be diverted to a page by La Tercera Ola. The YouTube link remains the same.

Bottom line, it has been around for a while, but who has been watching and who has been funding? Also, what will be the final name of the organization? We’ll see soon enough about the political leaning………

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