Sunday, March 2, 2008


Elections here in Spain are right around the corner – just one week from today, in fact. Structured differently than in the States, the Spaniards get to vote just for a political party with a pre-determined presidential candidate (no primaries here). There are two major political parties here, the PP (right) and the incumbent PSOE (left). Last Monday saw a debate between the presidential candidates from these two parties – a fairly big deal since most elections apparently occur without having such a face-to-face. The general consensus was that Zapatero (PSOE) walked away with the victory, but it was also almost unanimous that little ground was gained by either party in the fight for the undecided votes. It was all simply too scripted. Tomorrow night is the second installment and one of the last chances to capture those extra votes. Hopefully both parties step it up a little.

Most experts predict a PSOE victory, but only after creating a pact with one or some of the lesser-voted left-wing parties. Election victories in Spain are frequently obtained only through these unions as a simple majority isn’t always forthcoming. Despite their apparent lead, the PSOE is pulling out all the stops when it comes to their campaigning. I’ve heard from numerous people that it appears the PSOE is putting a greater effort into winning this election than the PP – their posters are on every corner, their signs are in the metro, and their campaigners are popping up everywhere – even in our predominately right-wing neighborhood. Today, while out and about, we came across PSOE promoters handing out pamphlets and stickers outside the Corte Ingles. The pamphlet they gave us was 100 Motivos - 100 reasons to vote for the PSOE.

It is a fairly striking and well-written handout that enumerates all of the biggest campaign promises - some very general, others more specific. Despite the fact that I can’t vote, I found the pamphlet informative – not only about what we can (likely) expect in the next four years, but also what the current state of things is. Some of the highlights include:

  • 3. Lower the unemployment index to around 7%.
  • 14. Increase to 12 years old the age limit for the child for a parent to have the right to a
    reduced workweek. (Didn’t know this right existed!)
  • 15. Increase the paternity leave from 2 to 4 weeks.
  • 28. For people under 30 years old, increase the scholarships of 1,600 Euros to study English
    in a foreign country.
  • 48. Place our university system among the top 10 in the world.
  • 86. Complete an extensive reform of the Civil Registry to ensure efficient service.
    95. After recuperating our role in the EU, we will support its conversion into a true political an
    social union.

If the PSOE wins and these promises are actually carried out, the social situation in Madrid, and throughout Spain, can improve greatly in the coming years. Granted, that “if…” is a big one.

No comments: