José Soldado Serrano
The last two weeks I have seen surprised how international media, specially British media as I live in the UK, misunderstood the real motivations behind the events taking place in Spain. According to the information I got in the UK, people were protesting against government cuts and high unemployment. Not to mention Italian official media, which said it was an anti-Zapatero protest. Unfortunately, reality is much more complex.
I could say that from the first term of the current PM (2004-2008), Spanish people realised that whoever governs in Spain, things are not going to improve in terms of political ethics and economical fairness and equality. But many foreigners may ask: why so late? The reason is clear, Spaniards never saw a non-socialist government till 1996 and socialists did not take power again till 2004, after an exhausting political campaign and several days of fear and unrest caused by the 3/11 Madrid bombings. It was only during that long term when Spaniards knew, after finally trying the same socialist option again, that the structural changes needed were not taking place whoever was in power.
Popular Party and conservative media undermining socialists government legitimacy; governmental negotiations with Basque terrorist group; changes in regional competencies against constitutional consensus; 3/11 trials and conspiracy theories; corruption cases from all parties coming up every day…... Political environment became unbearable and so changed people's political view and hope. That the two main parties were unable to change things and needed to be pushed into a big reform became a motto for many, I include myself. Among all that discontent, a new political party emerged, but Spanish electoral system make it impossible for a third national party to become an important political force and so it has been for now….
Eventually, good times were gone and economic crisis was undeniable just a few months after the last general elections (2008). Zapatero's lies; his late and bad response, and, at last, his sudden conversion into EU/IMF policies only worsened the already terrible perceptions that many had about politicians and politics. Having said this, it seems plausible that the local elections and a raising anger were the only ingredients required to organise a massive demonstration on 15th of May and set up the camps all over Spain the following days. Believe it or not, people are discussing about politics again with a passion never seen. Something completely new seems to be happening and, successful or not, has already made a difference. Citizens organising apart from parties and unions is a new landscape in Spanish politics and so is the concern of the parties in government as for the first time in our democratic history they have been put apart of the discussions, being their main object though. This is what, as Spaniards, we need to keep alive: the same open-minded, democratic, progressive movement that once made transition to democracy possible. This is what all this is about: we want a transition to a better democracy and we want it now.
Brilliant article about the Spanish Revolution:
'Millions of Spaniards Have Lost Faith in Politics'
Spiegel Online International (English Edition), 24 May 2011
I apologise for any mistake as English is my second language