My first month in Spain was marked by a large number of loud political debates between the Spanish people around me. Although it took me quite a while to figure out the different views and issues in Spain, I managed to get a handle on it by asking many questions and doing research on Spanish and international news sources alike. These are my findings so far.
On the 20th of December 2015, Spain held general elections for the bicameral Parliament. These in turn are vital for the future creation of the Spanish Government. In the past, there were two big parties, the Popular Party and the Socialist Party, who fought over winning majority during elections, and for the power in the resulting Government. The year 2015 was different because it saw the rise of two new parties with significant chances of bringing down the idea of one party gaining majority in Parliament. Podemos and Ciudadanos did exactly that!
The 350 legislature ended up being divided as follows: 123 seats for Popular Party (PP), 90 seats for the Socialist party PSOE, 69 seats for Podemos and 40 seats for Ciudadanos. Other 28 seats went to other small parties. Because no party managed to get majority, the people of Spain have been waiting for over a month for news of a coalition between two or more parties.
As the 1st meeting of the newly elected legislative took place on the 13th of January 2016, the situation was still unresolved. The speculations about possible coalitions are many, but the issues dividing the main players are complex, and make the road to cooperation a bumpy one. One of the main issues is the independence of Cataluña. While Podemos gained a significant percentage of its votes on the promise of a future referendum for the independence, Ciudadanos is very much against this idea.
The next step was the naming of a Parliament speaker who would go on to negotiate with the King for a future Prime Minister who will form the Government. If the future nominee for PM does not gain a vote of confidence from the Parliament, new elections will be held. This vote of confidence will require a majority coalition which is at the moment uncertain.
In the middle of this political uncertainty, a number of social issues have also been raised by some newly elected MPs. Carolina Bescansa gained praise, but also reprisals from media for breastfeeding her 5 months old baby during the first meeting of the Parliament. Two elected members belonging to green party EQUO came to the first session by bike, thus encouraging alternative transport methods. Podemos Deputy Alberto Rodríguez, who has dreadlocks, is in the middle of a public debate over the image of elected officials as a result of his looks. Finally, Spain has its first black law-maker in the person of Rita Bosaho, a History graduate from Podemos.