October 29, 2006

Elections in Catalunya

Convergencia i Unio bannerElections time all around. Belgium recently voted for their municipalities, the US are to elect their senate later this year, as are the Netherlands. And in Catalunya, people are proceeding to the voting urns this coming Wednesday, to elect their Generalitat.

Partida Socialista de Catalunya bannerIt’s interesting to see elections happen in other countries, and notice how much a concept of democracy can differ from place to place. In 2004, when I was in India, what I noticed most were the tons of posters, in the most abandoned places, apart from which the process was notably quiet. In the UK in 2005, I was struck by the ugly mud fight Laborites and Tories can fight when it comes to numbers of constituent seats. And in Catalunya anno 2006, what I notice most is the soft and peaceful mixture of Catalanism and a rather widespread kind of socialism.
Convergencia i Unio, the most Catalanist party, wants to “govern well and love Catalunya”. The Partido Popular (said to be post-Francoists in disguise) doesn’t get much further than claiming that “these are also your elections” (not mine, I couldn’t help to think). And: “the socialist party made a mess of this last term”. While Montillo, the Catalan Socialist Party’s candidate for presidency and direct affiliate of Spain’s president Zapatero, smiles superiorily, promising that “metros will be open all night during weekends”.

All over metro stations and billboards we see the five or so most important candidates smiling, shaving, adjusting a drill (“normal people, like you“). Every day, the news readers confide us in detail where they have been campaigning today, and what more they have been claiming.

And here is the best part, a touch of pragmatic politics. The government decided to hold elections on All Saints (Tots Sants), in Spain a free day. Now, nobody has an excuse not to vote.

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