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People of the Year

Por: | 27 de diciembre de 2011

How do you choose a person or movement of the year? That was the question that a colleague and I at Iberosphere faced when selecting our Iberians of 2011.

Should it be an individual who achieved the most in their chosen field, whether that be winning sports trophies, securing an electoral triumph, or earning huge sums of money? We felt that while success was an important factor, it was not the only gauge. Influencing or reflecting society –a difficult thing to measure, admittedly– was the more important issue. Those that we chose were included because we felt they had the biggest impact, for better or worse, on Spain or Portugal during the last 12 months.

There is also the question of how you compare individuals from different fields. A soccer coach is a different animal to a politician. The former’s victories and defeats are usually more tangible than the latter’s. And what about bankers, writers and film stars? Surely they are just as much a part of public life.

We wanted to reflect the breadth and variety of Iberian life, rather than just focusing on the economics and politics that so often seemed to dominate 2011. So anybody from Spanish and Portuguese society was eligible to make our long-list. Deciding on the short-list –of one winner and five runners-up– was more difficult.

Spain’s indignados movement were the most obvious choice. Their protests began after those of the Arab Spring to the south, but preceded and influenced those that took place in other developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. The momentum of the indignados, or 15-M, has waxed and waned since their famous May uprising, but in many ways they faithfully reflect the concerns of millions of Spaniards.

What about Mariano Rajoy? We considered his inclusion, but ultimately the leader of the Partido Popular did not offer any surprises in 2011. As expected, he secured a comprehensive general election victory. But he did so by refusing to offer policy detail, keeping a relatively low profile and letting his Socialist adversaries lose votes through their mismanagement of the economy. In fact, we felt there was another figure in his party who was a more interesting and worthy choice for inclusion.

We also felt that Rajoy’s Portuguese counterpart had a stronger case to make the shortlist, due to the more dramatic circumstances in which he came to power.

Besides these figures, a Basque political group, a writer and a footballer were among our Iberians of 2011. Many people might agree with our choices. But hopefully, many others will tell us why they disagree.

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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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