The European domestic politics thread

Spanish election is coming up at the weekend, but I figured a thread on that and that alone would probably bomb, so how about a thread on the domestic politics of countries over on the mainland?

Whilst on the campaign trail 20 minutes up the road from here last night, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy of the ruling right-wing Partido Popular copped an almighty dawk in the head off a 17 year old kid, with his glasses being broken.

Report here:

Video here (kid's face has been censored out since, but not on this one)

Podemos, the newly founded left-wing party that sprang out of the indigndado movement (the protest movement which 'Occupy' aped) have slipped in the polls from being the most popular party a year ago to the third or fourth most popular (which is still a pretty remarkable achievement for a party that's only 18 months old).

Interview with their leader Pablo Iglesias in the Guardian here. He's a 37 years old political science professor at Complutense, the country's leading public university, and a veteran of the anti-(though he explains that in more nuance here)Globalisation movement of the turn of the century.

Polls seem to indicate that the Partido Popular will win the most seats, but not enough to form an overall majority, which is what they currently have. They're campaigning hard on their record, but the numbers, un-spun, aren't great.

And like the other party who have dominated national politics since the transition to democracy, the Socialist Party (PSOE), they've been dogged by corruption and party finance scandals. The leader of the PSOE has about as much charisma as a wet rag, although he did call Rajoy an 'indecent' (sorry not a great translation, perhaps bad or dishonest) person during their recent TV debate.

On the subject of debates, that's been a real live issue. Four parties will dominate the vote, but Rajoy refused to appear in a series of four way debates on TV, only attending the one with the PSOE leader. Arrogance perhaps, and symptomatic of a disregard from the moves away from the cosy two party system.

The last spoke on that four way wheel? Ciudadanos. They have traditionally been a regional Catalan party against independence for that region but have made massive strides as a national party over the last 18 months. Also run by a rather charismatic, telegenic leader, Albert Rivera, I'd liken them to the Progressive democrats back home in many ways. They're campaigning against corruption, quite right-wing/liberal on economic issues while at the same time being relatively progressive on social issues.

Like Podemos, they're completely opposed to the partisan domination of state institutions by the big two. Typically, when either the PP or PSOE take power they expend great effort in attempting to undo each other's legislation, in addition to making sweeping and political changes in the fields of the judiciary, education, state media and parts of the civil service.

The Economist has called for them to be the party that should be voted in. I don't really agree with all that they've said here, it's not all sweetness and light:

As I mentioned, the polls show the PP being the biggest party, followed by the PSOE followed by, depending on which poll you read, either one of Ciudadanos and Podemos finishing third.

However, in the major cities, they are in a dead heat- in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia (which all have Podemos control at the local level) as well as Seville and Alicante, they are locked in the polls.

*edit* Ciudadanos had a link to Declan Ganley in the 2009 European Elections.
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Who could contribute to this thread, anyway? Reckon Prionsias could adequately cover the German suff. Maybe Marco the French stuff, although I've never seen him post on politics :p. We used to have our share of Italians before, any Poles around here? :eek:

Naturally I can do the Spanish stuff.
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