News from Spain

Quite a big split has taken place in the right-wing Partido Popular, with the more Catholic conservative side (Aznar, Rajoy, Aguirre and Acebes) now claiming victory over the more centrist elements (Gallardon & Piqué). This is good news for the PSOE as a right-wing shift in the PP might convince potential non-voters to come out and back the centre-left. John at Iberian Notes (in between a couple of misogynistic and racist remarks) reckons that it would still be better for Spain if Rajoy won, if only to prevent Zapatero from having two terms. Now that’s what I call party loyalty. Mariano Rajoy is a politician who somehow manages to make Zapatero look statesmanlike, confident and wise. Actually, I wouldn’t vote for either candidate but on balance, Zapatero hasn’t had that bad a time in office.

The national anthem lyrics which I mentioned the other day, after being firmly rejected by the Spanish public, have finally been withdrawn by the Spanish Olympic Committee. They were, as you can see, awful lyrics. But it seems that the ‘Viva España!’ rallying call (which features twice in the proposed song sheet) was what upset the most people. ‘Viva España!’ is a phrase which for most people still evokes Franco’s fascist regime – the old coot used to say it every other breath. Tourists – this may be why people stared at you and muttered under their breath when you tried to express how much you love Spain.

Actually, this opens up an interesting debate about Spanish nationalism in general. At some point in the future, it’ll become more possible to shout ‘Viva España!’ and not be called a fascist. But for the moment, expressions of nationalist or patriotic pride always seem to hark back to the dictatorship. You would think that the chap who wrote the proposed lyrics for the national anthem, would have known the import of including a couple of ‘Viva España!’s… but I doubt that he realised he was saying anything that could cause anyone offence. An unemployed man from La Mancha (‘Castilla la Nueva’), I suspect he is in fact pretty cut off from public opinion in the big towns.

My wife has quite a lot of family in Ciudad Real province and while the older generations are lovely, warm and sensible country people, the cousins who are our age, are spectacularly badly informed, racist and nationalist. They even took part in that pathetic anti-Catalan boycott a few years back (and had the temerity to invite Gemma, who lives in Catalonia and is Catalan, to take part). Actually, one of them also intended to have a medieval-themed wedding at which all the guests would have to dress up in silly costumes. I found this even more offensive than the stupid boycott.

2 thoughts on “News from Spain

  1. What a coincidence: my dad’s family is also from Ciudad Real, actually my father’s side of the family are all from Fuencaliente, close to the province of Cordoba.

    Fuencaliente and the surrounding areas is mostly full of proto-fascists and Catalonophobia is rampant. I stopped going there many years ago when I realised that there is no hope in engaging in any kind of dialogue with people who still are unrecycled Francoists…

    As for the PP, I recommend the article from Pilar Rahola in Thursday’s Avui. I am not a fan of this woman but she hits the nail on the head:

    Online translator:

    Basically, the Spanish Right has given up on becoming a normal, European, liberal centre-right party and they are on their way to be, officially, what they have always been: the political party founded by the falangist Manuel Fraga, one of Franco’s Cabinet Ministers.

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