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Sitting between two stools

Por: | 28 de septiembre de 2011

La policía acordona el Congreso ante la protesta de los indignados


Since last spring, the verb “indignarse” has become a key word in Spanish language textbooks. Whether you name it “Spanish Revolution”, “Indignados”,“15-M”or “Democracia Real Ya”, they all describe the movement that gotSpaniards out on the street a few months ago to show their feeling of political betrayal and worries for the future. The original demonstration grew in size and with a significant proportion of young protestors, the movement has now become representative of a generation that feels threatened by the current political climate.

So the future looks ominous: lack of jobs, education cuts, taxation and contested privatization so they cry out for help – and who to? The two main political parties, the PP and the PSOE that are battling away in sight of the upcoming elections on November 20. Even if the PP is predicted to win, many electors, still undecided, seem to believe that “they are all the same and that no matter what, nothing will change”.

Surprisingly, since the 15-M protests and the day the “indignados” movement put itself forward, reforms and constitutional changes haven’t slowed down; on the contrary, it has been a race without end, earning the disapproval of Spanish society. Whether Spain is making its own decisions or is just the puppet of the Sarkozy-Merkel-EU trio, Spaniards feel left out of the process of decision-making and underline the lack of democracy. No one seems to be listening to them and they no longer know who or where to turn to.

Political theory states that elections and democracy are made for people to be involved in what is decided for their country by choosing politicians who will represent their ideas and interests. A vote represents a bond of trust that is passed to the elected with the idea that he/she will make  the best decisions for the general well being of the society - so what happens when you don’t trust anyone anymore? Do you just stop voting? Isn’t the right to vote and the citizen’s duty to exercise it the product of a long history of conflict and a key element of political democracy as well as an indicator of the political life of a nation? So are we about to take a step backwards?

But the Spanish case is not unique. As we are trying to coin a term to define the general “European indignation” movement, political apathy amongst young people has been replaced by confusion and the need for change in many parts of the world. Starting from the riots in the “banlieues” in Paris a few years ago to the recent ones in London, the 2009 protests in Iceland, the Arab Spring, the Chilean Pingüinos (students) or the Tel Aviv hiccups, indignation is international.

In France, bipartidist country where elections are coming up next spring, the sentiment is similar to the one in Spain. On the one hand, the initial enthusiasm of the Sarkozy government has seen the president’s popularity rating plunge and on the Socialist side (PS), the original hope of Dominique Strauss-Kahn now calls for reconsideration after his international scandal.

In the UK, the choice between the Labour party or the Tory conservative government last year was joined by the Clegg’s Lib Dem that for many, had the potential to be an alternative that could maybe trigger the change that everyone was calling out for. The outcome was a coalition government that now finds it difficult to combine different political ideals with day-to-day pragmatism. The British budget cuts and particularly the education changes, including the introduction of astronomically high university tuition fees, are a prime example of entanglement. The initial Lib Dem promise to leave the tuition fees untouched was amended and the reform went through - due to the coalition partnership - a disappointing decision that widely affected public opinion.

Finally, on a happy note, in Germany, the recent elections in Berlin have shown that Angela Merkel and the traditional parties are aging and that new ideas and leaders are kicking in. Unlike other European countries, Germany presents a wider selection of parties.  The Piratenpartei (the Pirate Party), created in 2006 – mirroring the Swedish original Piratpartiet - and accounting for 9% in the Berlin votes is representative of the new European youth: young, qualified, web connected and informed, globalized and using ideas from several parties and with a new approach to the future.

The archaic bipartidist model is finally being questioned and new alternative parties need to gain support and credibility in order to win political seats and propose ideas democratically. For that, it is not only necessary to refresh our usual antiquated, male political representatives but also pressing to trigger change in society’s internalised voting habits and ways of thinking  in order to put aside the parties that have been present for decades but are now incapable of responding to the needs of the post modern generations.


Hay 4 Comentarios

I'm just always hoping there's going to be a breakthrough. Every time they meet, I hope they're getting close." With so many meetings ending in heartbreak, does he still muster hope every time? "I just patch my heart up," he says, "and hope that it doesn't get broken again. I'm going on the ride with them the whole way." Martin's comments have made him the most prominent player to openly plea for a quick deal.

Cry babies

I guess I'll never understand why this blog is called Trans-Iberian and has a Portuguese cockerel on top, please remove it, it's misleading, and change the name.


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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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