Flying the Standard in Spain

Written By: - Date published: 2:46 pm, March 11th, 2008 - 10 comments
Categories: International - Tags:

ugt.jpgCongratulations to the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party for winning their second four-year term under Prime Minister José Zapatero.

Zapatero’s surprise victory in 2004 followed a fear-mongering attempt by the then governing centre-right People’s Party to blame the Madrid train bombings on Basque separatists, ETA (as the People’s Party knew, Islamic radicals were really to blame). The Spanish public rejected this opportunistic attempt to drive a wedge between the Basque and other Spaniards (mostly of the Left) who are sympathetic to their desire for greater autonomy.

Zapatero’s first term was enormously popular. He took on powerful reactionary institutions like the People’s Party and the Catholic Church and made courageous stands on the international stage. Achievements include withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq, putting in place educational reforms that will make the system more secular and modern, legislating same-sex marriage and adoption, giving an amnesty to illegal immigrants, raising the minimum wage, strengthening powers to fight domestic violence, a smacking ban, and easing regional tensions including holding talks with ETA. They have also taken a lead role on climate change; Spain installed more wind generation capacity last year than any country save Germany and the US.

The economy was the dominant election issue. Growth was strong during Zapatero’s first term but a slowing housing market, rising prices for food and petrol and stock-market instability, all of which are down to international factors beyond Spain’s control, darkened the mood. The People’s Party ran a highly critical campaign but was unable to articulate any credible solutions.

Ultimately, there was a slight shift to the right but the Spanish public rewarded Zapatero with another term. Look for more world-leading policies from this centre-left government in coming years.

10 comments on “Flying the Standard in Spain”

  1. Simeon 1

    “world-leading policies”

    Which of the above are world leading??

  2. Daveo 2

    Ah Simeon, child soldier for the Christian right. How about ‘strengthening powers to fight domestic violence’?

  3. Simeon 3

    You mean that by passing an anti smacking law they are going to be able to stop child abuse?

    And in what way is passing an anti smacking law “world-leading policies”

  4. Steve Pierson 4

    well, the gay marriage thing is world leading, Spain is still only one of about half a dozen who have that – it’s a half-step above our civil unions (hey, weren’t they meant to bring the world to an end by now?).

    Being the first major country to withdraw from Iraq…

    The domestic violence reforms are pretty world-leading as far as I know.

  5. Steve Pierson 5

    simeon. if a country is one of the first to adopt a policy and then other coutnries adopt it or look at adopting it – that’s worldleading.

  6. Don’t confuse the poor lad with fundamental definitions.

  7. Simeon 7

    “one of the first”

    yes that sounds like the left. No fresh ideas, just copy each others policies.

  8. Steve Pierson 8

    you got me there Simeon. where can I sign up for the Tories?

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    yes that sounds like the left

    As opposed to the groundbreaking social policies from the right.

    “Don’t change anything, fer gawdsake, the world’ll end! But if you do have to change it; let’s go backwards please”

  10. Santi 10

    What’s wrong with you Steve Pierson, Professor of English?

    The hammer and sickle are missing from the red flags. Unforgivable mistake for a man of your left-wing convictions.

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