Updated: Nov 10, 2019
PP, PSOE, Podemos, Ciudadanos and Vox go head to head.
Today as Spain goes to the polls, Spaniards will vote on 5 potential leaders to take control of the government that has failed to win a majority since the last elections in April.
There have been 4 elections in the last few years and none have delivered a majority or forged an effective government which has resulted in a stalemate.
When I arrived in Spain in 2012 there were 2 political parties divided between the left and right and just like Ireland, Civil War politics played a part in those two different sides.
Since 2015, Spain added two more political parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos and finally, in the last six months, we have seen the creation of the extreme right political party Vox.
Vox denies that they are far-right but push for anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and anti-abortion rights and to be honest, the rise of an extreme-right political party scares me.
I see children wearing Vox Spanish flags around their wrists for example and a rise in nationalism triggered by the 2017 independence referendum in Catalunya. Spanish flags have been hung from balconies and cars and children even started putting Spanish flags on their school bags and clothes.
This election arises from the refusal to form a government between the existing parties.
The center-left PSOE controls an acting government with no majority but has been unable to form a fully functioning government with either of the political parties including Podemos on the left and Ciudadanos who are right of center but who appear content to partner with the right and far-right parties.
The acting president, Pedro Sanchez has an advantage but will also face harsh criticism for the problems in Catalunya and the controversial removal of General Franco from his place of worship where the world's largest cross marked his grave and Civil War monument.
If the Civil War still plays a part in Spanish politics than Spain might just pull itself apart and in the last month, we have seen General Franco featured heavily in the news at the same time separatists have been seen violently protesting in Catalunya.
The protests followed the lengthy prison sentences handed down to political leaders in the region. The timing of the sentencing was terrible in my opinion and since Catalans take issue with Franco's rule of the region in the past, I fear that Spain can either hold on to fascism or Catalunya but not both and cool heads are needed to resolve issues in the region where some people would prefer to see a more heavy-handed approach.
Despite horrible images of police brutality two years ago when the illegal independence referendum took place, the police have shown great restraint against violent protests in which rocks have been thrown at the police and streets set on fire.
Any left-wing government will have to crackdown on dissent in Catalunya to keep the far-right from taking control whereas any rightwing government will have to show restraint from making things much worse in the region by using excessive force.
The word for choice in Spanish is eleccion and Spain has never had as much choice when it comes to democracy but democratic norms are a relatively new concept in Spain dating back to the death of a dictator who ruled over Spain for a very long time.
Spain has a choice like never before, an election of left and right but as President Dwight D Eisenhower, the general who lead the Allied invasion of D-Day, so famously said
“I despise people who go to the gutter on either the right or the left and hurl rocks at those in the center.”
There have been plenty of rocks thrown recently and fascists crawling out of the gutter to salute Franco and wave fascist flags in the center of Madrid but it is up to Spain to decide if they can forget their past and focus on a future, together.
ABOUT MY OWN POLITICAL VIEWPOINT: I prefer to vote people over party and see political ideologies as being two sides of the same coin where each party can bring the same value, no matter what the coin tosh says.
I believe economics and luck come into play with every government and the best approach is a collective approach and not a point-scoring attitude where people find fault but not solutions.