By Andrew Ede
The revolution will be pedestrianised
When you are a new political party, there are difficult decisions to be made, such as what you call yourselves. Podemos is the name. Or so we thought. It is nationally but not locally. We can thus conclude that Podemos is not so much a party more an alliance of brethren, a co-operative of “we can”. Will voters in Palma be presented with marking the X against an option called Palma Co-Op or something similar? Who knows? The Podemos people in Palma, who can’t call themselves Podemos, don’t themselves as yet know.
At one point we had been led to believe that Podemos wouldn’t run in municipal elections. Then there was a change of mind, but it came with this twist of nomenclature. The municipal Podemos can be Podemos but by another name: not-Podemos but is, as it were. My God, it doesn’t half get confusing. And to heap further puzzlement onto befuddlement, there is not one but two Podemos factions, one which is Podemos and one which isn’t, though of course neither of them can be come the elections. Strictly speaking, the one that is, isn’t, as it is Catalan - Podem per Palma. The other is Tots per Palma, and I shall decline the opportunity to suggest that these Tots are a tad like tots, though I suppose I have. The Tots may well have it by election time and there may well also long before then be unity among the Podemos factions. The united co-operative of not-Podemos will select its secretary-general and hold its primaries in January.
This at least was the message that was emerging at the end of a week which had earlier been marked by what was being called the “battle” of the Podemoses. At the centre of this battle was the question of education. One imagines that when Pablo Iglesias and his chums came up with the idea for Podemos, they would have taken no notice of arguments over the balance of languages for teaching instruction in Majorca, but notice does of course have to be taken, and the Tots wing rejected the notion of “immersion” in Catalan, i.e. a return to how things were before Bauzá came on the scene, which was what Podem were angling for. Tots reckoned that immersion would represent the politics of other parties, such as PSOE, and as Tots (or Podemos or whoever) reject such politics, immersion would not be acceptable. So, they have to yet decide where they stand on teaching language, though I would like to suggest they adopt a truly radical and revolutionary stance, and that would be to reject all languages. Teaching through body language alone. Or perhaps dust down the dictionary of Esperanto, the language of a Spanish anarcho-nudist movement of the early twentieth century.
Tots did, however, give one concrete indication of policy - literally concrete. Noting that Palma is not a European city, an assertion with which some may disagree, Tots said that they wished to eliminate the “abuse of cars in public spaces”. Consequently, they would get rid of vehicles from the whole of the old centre of Palma. To borrow from Gil Scott-Heron, the revolution will be pedestrianised.
Chaos and more chaos
Over at the regional Ministry of Dysfunctionality, education minister Núria Riera has endured another week of calls for her to resign. What is so different to the previous 182 weeks of this current administration, you might well ask, as nary a week has passed without the resignation being demanded of one of three (so far) education ministers? It is of course the affair of the teacher from Minorca being hauled over to Majorca, having a post made for him and, so it is alleged, all because he is to form part of the election campaign team for the PP’s head of the employment service, Xisca Ramis, in Lloseta.
Núria, who combines the day job at education with being the PP’s spokesperson, was abandoned to the wolves of the opposition in parliament by an absent Bauzá when it came to a debate over budgets that descended into attacks on her over the affair. How could she be leading such a debate when she was responsible for the secondment of someone (the teacher) to the benefit of the PP? This was the general drift along with suggestions that the education sector would be better off were she to resign and that she was presiding over ever more chaos in education.
And yet further chaos could be on its way. Núria will doubtless have noted the announcement by the teachers’ assembly - Assemblea de Docents - that it plans a whole campaign of protests over the chaos in education, with one protest, the teachers suggesting, matching the scale of the demonstration against trilingual teaching in September 2013. From February up to the May elections, it will be protest after protest, including possible strike action (the strike never having officially been called off).
Yet, would the Assemblea not accept that a series of protests will merely add to the chaos, a situation that the teachers as much as government have managed so spectacularly to bring about? Presumably it wouldn’t, but one feels that protests and possible strikes will be seen for what they will be - an election device - and that the electorate, already tired of the chaos, might well turn against the teachers. The protests would thus be counterproductive.
The children of the lottery
Tomorrow the whole of Majorca and Spain will grind to a halt and be glued to television screens from which will come a truly insufferable noise. It is the El Gordo lottery and the children who sing the numbers. The twenty-two children, aged between nine and thirteen, have been chosen for this year’s lottery from the sixty kids at the San Ildefonso school in Madrid, just as they are every year. Nine-year-old Lorena and twelve-year-old Ismael both admitted to being a little nervous at the prospect of performing the interminable drone that is the chanting of the numbers.
But while the selection was being made, the national organisation for the disabled was presenting a “denuncia” with the prosecutor in charge of children’s affairs against the secretary-of-state for finance, Miguel Ferré. The organisation was looking to get the lottery “paralysed” because it uses children both for the draw and for promoting the sale of tickets. There is of course no chance that the lottery will be paralysed. The nation would rise up were it to be, though the nation, were it wise, might support the proposal that children are not involved, if only to paralyse the racket that will come from every television in every bar in every town across Spain tomorrow.