Carmena and Colau: An update from your overseas political correspondent

July 25, 2015

What a time to be alive!

In case you haven’t been following the news recently, Spain is in the middle of quite a political shakeup.

Specifically, there’s a new leftist party that’s got the political establishment running for cover.

The party (or more accurately collection of parties) grew out of the 15-M protest movement several years ago. 

Yep, I’m talking about Podemos.

Yes, we can. Or can we?

The most interesting development of the year so far is that both Madrid and Barcelona elected new mayors from the far left. Not exactly Podemos, but associated parties.

They both made big promises, especially about stopping the evictions of families who could no longer pay their mortgages. And now we wait to see if they’ll come through.

So far, it’s not looking good…

Manuela Carmena, the new mayor of Madrid, was barely in office a few hours when she had to deal with a scandal involving some wildly offensive holocaust jokes made on Twitter by a member of her new local government.

She moved him to another position, and life goes on.

Soon after, another member of the new government was charged with “offending religious sentiments” for her role in a topless protest in a church back in 2011.

Since then, it’s not really clear what the local government has been up to. We’re all here waiting for some big change – and so far, it looks like we’re going to have to keep waiting.

manuela carmena and felipe vi
Manuela Carmena and the new king, Felipe VI. Photo via

Meanwhile, up in Barcelona, the new mayor Ada Colau had what was probably the top national news story this week when she had the bust of Juan Carlos I, our beloved ex-monarch, removed from City Hall.

She’s also made the rather strange move of putting a moratorium on licenses for new hotels in the city. Tourism, of course, is one of the main industries driving Spain’s economy. But apparently people in Catalonia get a bit annoyed with us guiris from time to time.

Oh well.

I’m sure if Barcelona makes things too difficult for investors, they’ll just move down the coast a bit. Barcelona’s not that cool anyway (cue the whole internet hating me).

In any case, the record-breaking tourist season we’re having so far has already contributed to the best quarter for job creation since 2005. Yes, unemployment is down to only – only – 22%.

And in other news…

And if that weren’t good news enough, starting just a few days ago, the age of consent (and marriage) was raised from 13 to 16 all over the country.

Yes, up till now, 13-year-olds were fair game on the dating market.

I suppose it was a part of Spain’s former reality – large, impoverished Catholic families wanting nothing more than to get rid of a couple of their teenage daughters by marrying them off as soon as possible.

But now that Spaniards have small families, people with their parents and wait for their 30s to get married, it was time to bring marriage and age of consent laws into the 21st century.

Of course, in the Vatican City, the age of consent is still 12 years (see linked article above) – a situation about which I have absolutely no comment.

So, that’s the story around here. Will the left create the socialist paradise we’ve all been waiting for? Or will they limit themselves to taking little jabs at the establishment by changing street names and removing statues?

Only time will tell… National elections are coming this fall!

Update, October 2017: So far, even the change in the street names has failed to materialize. Google Maps changed them several months ago, but last time I was down there (like 2 blocks from home, actually) all the prominent fascists still had their street signs.

Update, May 2018: Okay, they finally changed the street names a couple of weeks ago. Up in my neighborhood, Tetuán, we’ve now got calle San Germán, calle Fortunata y Jacinta, and more. ¡Adiós, General nosequé!

So we’ll see what happens. I guess we’ve only got a couple more years till new new elections.

Curiously yours,

Mr Chorizo.

P.S. There are a couple new articles up, written by people I like. Check out Embracing the Sprunch – why Spanish brunch isn’t like brunch back home and also Buddhism in Madrid.

P.P.S. At least it’s not like last summer, when we had the ebola zombies threatening to take over the city.

P.P.P.S. A lot’s happened since I wrote this article. For example, the whole anti-tourism thing in Barcelona. Not to mention the Catalan independence referendum. Lot’s of fun here in Iberia… What a time to be alive!

P.P.P.P.S. See also Pablo Iglesias’ mansion.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Update, November 2019: all this seems pretty naive now. We’ve barely had a government for the longest time, and it seems like political shakeups are the wave of the future. So, uh, whatever.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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