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Spain: Limited Setback for the Governing Party

 
 
fbaezer
 
Reply Mon 26 May, 2003 01:03 pm
On the regional elections held on monday, the Spanish Socialists (PSOE) surpassed the governing Popular Party (PP), as the most voted, for the first time in a decade, but did not give the PP the expected "punishment" for Aznar's support of the Iraqi war. PSOE got 35.7%, and PP was very near, with 33.8%. Another element of the elections was the resurgence of local parties, specially in Galicia, Asturias and the Canary Islands.

While the elections were centered in local themes, the Spanish position on Iraq loomed during the whole campaign.

PP managed to retain the city of Madrid, but lost the Madrid region to a Socialist-Communist coalition. The Socialists won Seville and Zaragoza, and kept their majorities in Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha. The Populars recaptured Burgos and the Balearic Islands. The Communists (United Left) had an impressive victory in Cordoba, but were not able to carry much of the anti-war vote in many other regions.

Taking both the British and the Spanish electoral results, it seems that both Blair and Aznar paid a price for their support to Bush, but not as hefty as many had expected.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,750 • Replies: 18
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 May, 2003 01:19 pm
thanks fbaezer - that's interesting.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 May, 2003 03:08 pm
Could that (your final conclusion on Blair and Aznar) not be part and parcel with a depressed resignation in the international mood at the prospect of accepting a fait accompli which they opposed, and were powerless to prevent? I guess i'm asking if voters have not taken the "there's nothing we can do about it" attitude to the point of apathy . . . which would make it difficult for opposition to engineer the overthrow they long for . . .
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 May, 2003 04:35 pm
I really don't know.
My guess is that many Spanish voters, while opposed to Aznar and his party's pro-war position, do not think of the matter as important enough to overcome their preference, in regional matters.
It may happen that you oppose the war but, as a citizen of Madrid, think the city was well handled by the Populares, and vote for the incumbent.
The true proof, in both UK and Spain, will be the national elections, but since more water will have passed under the bridge, I think an important part of the electorate will be willing to forget and forgive... and to give them a chance for another adventure.
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PacoElPicadillo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 12:07 pm
a spanish perspective
Hello you all, hola fbaezer. First of all, elections were for councils, and elections were for some regions, not all regions: Elections in Cataluña, Galicia, Andalucía, Euskadi and I don´t know if I forget some others more, will be in the future.
About the "war factor", it´s sure the most of spanish overvalued its importance answering to statistics, but when the moment of giving the vote arrived, we thought only in our town, you know: the streets, the swimming poople, the tax on water and cleaning and so. But the main trend was general: PP lost votes, few but lost votes all across Spain, and in councils usually lost elections the oldest Alcaldes, wethers if they were conservatives, or socialists or independents, people want new faces.
In Spain, as important as war, was the way government managed the ecological crisis of a tank ship, Prestige. It was a catastrophical disaster, and government war very critiziced, not enough for me. And about the war, well, you know, victory have many friends and after all Saddam Hussein was a bastard, although the 90% of us think you know strong, serious and TRUE reasons for make the war. Many spanish don´t like to say, nor me, but now we are showing a kind of positive position towards government and some recents news about oil deals given to spanish companies in Irak.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 12:56 pm
I think the fact presented by Fbaezer is quite explicable. People in Spain expressed their opinion on the Iraqi war while being polled. But since Mr. Aznar did not drag Spain into participation in this war, there were no casualties in the Spanish military as a result of this, people considered this episode with Mr. Aznar's support of Mr. Bush as insignificant. And when they came to the polling stations they took into consideration the aspects of Mr. Aznar's governmental policies that had direct effect on their everyday life: economic approaches, taxation, ecologic policies etc. And if the Spaniards were more or less satisfied with these, they had no reasons to vote for drastic changes. It would be unwise to replace a functional government just out of solidarity with the foreign dictator Saddam Hussein...
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 01:38 pm
Amazing, steissd, that you have a better insight of Spain than those living there.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 03:24 pm
Mr. Hinteler, there are lots of people on A2K that tend to explain situations in different countries (for example, in Israel) from the leftist-liberal positions while not being citizens or permanent residents of these countries, and this does not cause your surprise...
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 03:30 pm
Welcome to this forum, Paco, it's always good to hear someone reporting back from 'home' when it comes to topics like this.

As you'll have noted, the overwhelming majority of posters here are from the English-speaking countries (and logically so), and that does mean armchair analysis tends to dominate when it comes to European issues. So your input 'from the spot' is welcome!
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 04:04 pm
steissd

Your response exactly after the one from a Spanish citizen surprises me, yes.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 14 Jun, 2003 04:23 pm
Very grateful for Fbaezer's post and for Paco's amplification. I find Paco's words quite convincing. Steissd's comments carry the sounds of an axe being ground once again...

Welcome, Paco!
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PacoElPicadillo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2003 11:08 am
Hello, Tartarin, eh...are you from Tarascon? hehe.
I´ve been exploring just now able2know and is really wide! too many things for reading and talking about. I like it.
Some mistakes I made: "the swimming poople" I wanted to say "the swimming pool", what is the "poople"?
Other: "and government war very critiziced", I wanted to say "and government WAS very criticised". Government was very criticised about Prestige. About war too, but was a different event. About the war, well, it´s very long, but in resume, we didn´t like the way of pressuring and insulting UN and everybody by Bush government, and the liers which made feeling us ashamed because of the false proofs and these ugly things. USA and Europeans countries are allied, we´ve the same origins and roots, and there is a place for discrepancy between friends, because we´re friends not slaves. Well, Bush, Blair, Chirac, Scrhoeder or Aznar will go out, but countries will remain. And about what Steissed said, the army in Spain is full professional, and we could assume casualties. In fact, we didn´t like Irak war, but we didn´t like too the way Aznar faced the war, he should have sent troops but to the first line, not to giving biscuits to Irak´s people, but Aznar was more worried about electors than the war. We aren´t proud of ourselves. We are a bit contradictories.
And about the forum members, I see there are members not only from NorthAmerica but from others non-english speakers europeans countries and others continents. Very Interesting. All of you ask me everything you want.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2003 11:17 am
Well, many swimming pools are more accurately described as pooples, Paco! I like Tarascon, but hail from south of there -- well to the south, around the corner from Cartagena. Y tu? madrileno? You have no language problems, wouldn't worry about that! You share spelling problems with the rest of us. And remember, Steissd is a robot, not a real person.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jun, 2003 06:54 pm
Steissd is not a robot, just a man of extremely straight-lined opinions. And enough of the mutual putdowns already - c'mon, this guy only just joined, lets not show ourselves in our more petty or ad hominem mode straight away, 'k?

Paco, re: spelling mistakes, you can also edit your own posts later on - button to the right of "reply" and "quote"! But like Tartarin said, dont worry about it, anyway.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2003 09:19 am
The democratization that Franco's chosen heir, Juan Carlos, and his collaborators peacefully and legally brought to Spain over a three-year period was unprecedented. Never before had a dictatorial regime been transformed into a pluralistic, parliamentary democracy without civil war, revolutionary overthrow, or defeat by a foreign power. The transition is all the more remarkable because the institutional mechanisms designed to maintain Franco's authoritarian system made it possible to legislate a democratic constitutional monarchy into existence.
When Prince Juan Carlos took the oath as king of Spain on November 22, 1975, there was little reason to foresee that he would be the architect of such a dramatic transformation. Franco had hand-picked Juan Carlos and had overseen his education. He was considered an enigma, having publicly sworn loyalty to the principles of Franco's National Movement while privately giving vague indications of sympathy for democratic institutions. More was known of his athletic skills than of his political opinions, and observers predicted that he would be known as "Juan the Brief."
Juan Carlos confirmed Arias Navarro's continuation in office as prime minister, disappointing those who were hoping for liberal reforms. Arias Navarro had served as minister of the interior under Carrero Blanco, and he was a loyal Francoist. His policy speech of January 28, 1976, was vague--devoid of concrete plans for political reform. The hopes and expectations aroused by the long-awaited demise of Franco were frustrated in the initial months of the monarchy, and a wave of demonstrations, industrial strikes, and terrorist activity challenged the country's stability. The government responded with repressive measures to restore law and order. These measures inflamed and united the liberal opposition. At the same time, the cautious reforms that the Arias Navarro government proposed met with hostile reaction from orthodox Francoists, who pledged resistance to any form of change.
It was in this volatile atmosphere that Juan Carlos, increasingly dissatisfied with the prime minister's ability (or willingness) to handle the immobilists as well as with his skill in dealing with the opposition, asked for Arias Navarro's resignation. Arias Navarro submitted his resignation on July 1, 1976. Proponents of reform were both surprised and disappointed when the king chose, as Arias Navarro's successor, Adolfo Suarez Gonzalez, who had served under Franco and who had been designated secretary general of the National Movement in the first government of the monarchy. The new prime minister's Francoist links made it appear unlikely that he would promote major evolutionary change in Spain, but it was these links with the political establishment that made it possible for him to maneuver within the existing institutions to bring about the reforms that Juan Carlos desired.
Throughout the rapid democratization that followed the appointment of Suarez, the collaboration between the king and his prime minister was crucial in assuaging opposition from both the immobilists of the old regime and those who agitated for a more radical break with the past. Whereas Suarez's political expertise and pragmatic approach enabled him to manipulate the bureaucratic machinery, Juan Carlos's ability to maintain the allegiance of the armed forces made a peaceful transition to democracy possible during these precarious months.
In July 1976, the government declared a partial amnesty that freed approximately 400 political prisoners. On September 10, Suarez announced a program of political reform, calling for a bicameral legislature based on universal suffrage. With skillful maneuvering, he was able to persuade members of the Cortes to approve the law, thereby voting their own corporatist institution out of existence, in November. The reforms were then submitted to a national referendum in December 1976, in accordance with Franco's 1945 Law on Referenda. The Spanish people voted overwhelmingly in favor of reform: about 94 percent of the voters (78 percent of the electorate took part in the referendum) gave their approval. The results of the referendum strengthened the position of the Suarez government and of the king and represented a vindication for those who favored reform from above rather than revolution.
In the first six months of 1977, significant reforms were enacted in rapid succession. There were further pardons for political prisoners in March; independent trade unions replaced vertical and labor syndicates; and the right to strike was restored. In April the National Movement was disbanded.
Suarez and the king began to prepare the Spanish people for the first free elections--to be held on June 15, 1977--since the Civil War. The legalization of political parties began in February, and an electoral law outlining the rules for electoral competition was negotiated with opposition political forces and went into effect in March. The government adopted the d'Hondt system of proportional representation, which favored the formation of large parties or coalitions (see Electoral System , ch. 4).


http://www.workmall.com/wfb2001/spain/spain_history_the_post_franco_era.html

I lived in Spain for about twenty years -- a longish period before Franco's death and for some years after that. The transition was fairly stunning and of course the king played a key role. Given the elegance and determination with which this process was handled makes me think that Spain should play a significant role in the Iraqi transition and that the US -- whose electoral system flounders so badly that many have suggested we should engage international observers -- should step back.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2003 11:57 am
Tartarin,
The Spanish transition to democracy is an exemplary process. It could not have been the way it was without some key participants: King Juan Carlos, Adolfo Suárez, Felipe González. But most important was the attitude of Spanish society: left and right were similarly fed up with Spain being "different" and all were eager to be a part of modern Europe, culturally, economically and culturally. To have a social "pact" (such as the one signed at La Moncloa) you need all parties willing to negotiate. Almost everyone in Spain at the time was ready to negotiate, for the sake of democracy.

Iraq is a whole different story.
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PacoElPicadillo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2003 03:47 pm
I live in Spain more years than Tartarin, but I´m afraid my memoirs of Franco´s years aren´t so fresh as his, being me 41yrs.old, but I´ve enough memories. Well, Spain since the late 50´s opened its economy, millions of tourists came every summer with the meaning of that: and ultracatholic regime opening its doors to that esplendids swedish girls with theirs bikinis at first, and few time after that some whisperings about girls in top-less in Torremolinos beaches, and the talks and comments of tourists about things up Pirinees, and others millions spanish working in Germany, France or Swirtzeland who came back home in hollidays and told about the free trade unions, free press and the old people remembering once in Spain before that war was the same freedom...well, the transition wasn´t a miracle. Really, Franco was an anomaly in 1970, not the Spanish society who was walking at the same speed than the rest of the world. American bases in Torrejon, near Madrid, opened a little window of fresh air too, but soon after people wondered what freedom the heroes of Omaha beach were defending in Franco´s Spain. We weren´t lucky, we didn´t deserve neither Civil War, nor Franco dictatorship nor Franco living so many years, but things were like this.
And about Spain playing a significant role in Irak, thanks Tartarin, but I can´t really see how. Transition of Irak to democracy would be a miracle, and I tell you if it´s done successfully then Bush, who I don´t like anything, would deserve the Nobel Price, because it´d be really a major success. Irak it´s a mess, it isn´t really a country, may be 2 countries: kurds and the arabs, and arabs are divided between sunnies and shiies and...I don´t know what could do Spain there. All I can tell you about Spain is that we wouldn´t tolerate a foreing country ruling us in 1976, really never, and you can see this days how irak people are angry about foreing people even if they are happy because Saddam is out. And we haven´t any historical link with Irak, like G.Britain. And once the war is over, still looks neccessary american forces remain some time in Irak for keeping some group of ajatollahs get the power, or for preventing a civil war.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2003 05:27 pm
Well, it's not a job I'd wish on Spain, but it sure would be more competent (and respected) than the US is in Iraq at this point.

You're making me homesick. Whatever happened to Felipe Gonzalez? Yes, Fbaezer -- and Paco -- the ingredients and the dedication certainly were there, mas las suecas y demas turistas and other resident foreigners. The art scenes in Madrid and Barcelona were much looser by the mid-seventies than they'd been in decades. But at the same time those of us who were living in the boonies had no idea about the underlying political strengths, just whispers and hopes among our friends in the then-dissident movements. The El Pais guys. Moncloa, Suarez, the steadiness of Juan Carlos would have seemed like dreams. Being a painter, I went out on the day of Franco's death with my camera having decided to do a piece about the day Franco died for my next show in Madrid. Expected to see... something. There was nothing. Life as usual. I lived near a town which was famous (locally) for a slaughter of priests during the Civil War. Sat in Tabernas for about half an hour watching two guardias toast each other and the bar owner merrily at a table in the bright sun. Cacahuetes. Canas de cerveza. That was it. Pues nada. It's a great country.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jun, 2003 06:00 pm
Tartar and paco, I visited Madrid three times. The first time was in the late fifties when I was in the US Air Force stationed in Morocco, and we spent a long weekend in Madrid on a R&R (Rest and Recouperation) leave for New Years, 1958. Three of us first checked into our hotel, then started walking the streets, and walked into a bar for beer. I think we paid something like .03c per glass for beer. We hired a local guide who took us around Madrid, and after a day of touring, he took us to a restaurant where he told us to have our dinner. He said he would return when we finished. This was December 31, 1958. He came back, and took us to his neighborhood to meet his friends. We partied all night, and they wouldn't allow us to pay for any drinks or food. Boy, what a night that was! My next trip to Spain was in September of 1996 on a organized tour. We visited Madrid, Segovia, Avila, Seville, Torremolinos, Granada, and Toledo. Madrid was different than what I remembered from my first visit. The 'feel' was different. My last visit to Spain was in August of 1999 when I visited Barcelona. I really loved Barcelona, especially the Gothic area of the city. The metro system is very nice, and easy to travel around the city. Visited all the Gaudi buildings and park, Joan Miro and Piccaso museums, and even Hard Rock Cafe. c.i.
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