There are elections in the air – the American ones which appear to take a year to resolve (or longer if they can’t agree on those Florida ‘chads’) and the Spanish ones, which essentially take a couple of weeks. Now, we all know and argue about Hillary, about Obama and perhaps even the Republican John McCain – who at his age ought to be staying home with his grand-children; but – hands up who is keeping up with the Spanish contests for both prime minister and, nearer to home, supreme Poo Bah of Andalucía?
I would suggest that, apart from starting the odd war which the Americans are so good at, the Spanish elections are far more important to us and our future. Nationally, we have President Rodríguez Zapatero weighing in for another round, against the apparently unsure Mariano Rajoy, he of the scruffy beard and delicate manners. That is, the socialist PSOE (plus the usual expensive ragbag of hangers on) against the PP, the conservatives. In Andalucía it’s Manuel Chaves versus Javier Arenas. Both contests have been played before and last time, the PSOE took all the laurels.
Apart from the posters, the free lighters and the logo-bearing caps, will it make any difference to us as to who wins?
Have you seen those tee shirts that read ‘Adióz’? The joke is, of course, that they refer to Zapatero, who has managed to create a culture of ‘Z’. Not just because of his name, I say, because his policies have pretty much been a ‘Z’ as well, from his ‘culture of civilizations’, his pandering to the future independent states of Catalonia, Euskadi and Galicia, to his managing to put half the country at the throats of the other half. Adiós, meaning, of course, ‘goo-bye and thanks for all the fish’.
Did you catch the pro-Zap video made by the country’s pop stars and actors who all put themselves behind the PSOE (‘no probs, mate, as long as the cheque’s good’)?
But I shan’t be wearing the tee shirt or watching the video. It might be misconstrued by those who are allowed to vote.
I feel like something out of the cartoon of the two missionaries in the pot with the tag-line ‘I say, Carruthers, the natives are restless tonight’. I may have lived here for a long time and move more-or-less in Spanish circles (as far as one can in an area like this), but I must occasionally be reminded that I am a foreigner, and there is no time like elections for that.
While the natives are getting decidedly restless, we can only watch. But what comes from these elections, both nationally and regionally, will have a large impact on our lives. We live in interesting times yet there is little we can do beyond watching uncomfortably from the cooking pot.
‘But’, says someone over a vino, ‘you can take out Spanish nationality’. True enough, but what I would like to do is to have ‘European’ nationality. First Class. A Texan doesn’t have to become a Californian to vote in Los Angeles.
What… the Yanks are more democratic than the Europeans?
Our concerns are local but the decisions about our area are made elsewhere – and apparently with no interest or concession towards the foreign residents that have pretty much made this area what it is. Of course we should participate in the bloody elections!
We are concerned about the demolition in Vera and the many other homes which are threatened. We are worried about the plan to send water from Carboneras to Barcelona (at least, my rose-garden is decidedly agitated) and we are worried about the insane plan to build a gigantic city on our doorstep – which, give or take, the local English-language press has been rather quiet about.
So, as Chaves sweeps his way to another victory in Andalucía - guaranteeing another four years of gloom for the region, and Zap and Mariano fight it out in Madrid, it becomes increasingly apparent that our small corner of enchantment is just a plaything for the powerful.
By the way, there are 144,000 Andaluces who are residents abroad and yet can vote in the Andalucian elections!