ISSN 1989-4163

NUMERO 103 - MAYO 2019


Strange Images

Coos Palmboom

It's Sunday evening, nine o' clock. We may just hold off a rightwing majority if Catalan independence parties are willing to help Pedro Sanchez avoid Catalan independence. Four years to get some kind of deal done. As I wasn't able to vote, fourteen years paying taxes don't count for anything without nationality, I was less interested in my own opinions recently and more in how my neighbours saw things and would subsequently vote. I skipped watching tv, as the campaign for the parlementarian elections was an unbearably tedious affair. You would think that ecological degradation, involvement through Nato in US warcrimes around the world and preparedness for the next economic crisis might be topics of interest to both the general public and career politicians. But no, it was once again all about Catalunya and who can be trusted to dismantle Catalunya for its resistance to Madrid's abusive policies and who must be considered a closet terrorist for merely wanting to punish it for its heroics yet refusing to go in for the kill.

No, the fun was to be had on the street this time. Seldom have I seen such divergence in the quality of the various image campaigns. Not that any of them was particularly good, but some were really, really bad, absolutely horrible, so poor in fact that you would think it was done on purpose. Let's begin with the people's party. You know its result by now. The leader, some bland faced nitwit who looks like his father had the money to buy him a university degree, presents himself as an insurance salesman. Dressed as some middle management businessman from a provincial company which only survives on hidden government subsidies, his upper body appears next to his party's logo and the phrase valor seguro. Sure value, safe value, value insurance. Make of it what you will. Would anyone want his government run by a bloke who wants to sell you an insurance? We know what that's like. Whenever you claim, there's always a hidden provision which frees them from paying you anything, yet you devoutly foot the bills they keep sending you in case the unimaginable never happens. Doesn't sound like a good deal to me. If I hadn't made a choice yet, and the debates certainly wouldn't have helped me make up my mind, I would never go for this loser.

Next up are a duo who call themselves citizens. Yet they don't seem to represent many fellow citoyens. Their effigies are hanging vertically from lampposts on plastic banners. A young looking woman, number two in the party order, has her face cut out in half close up, no hair or neck to be seen. Her skin is very shiny, as if she is wearing tons of make-up without any matte powder. The cheeks gleam feverishly and her lips are done with the carelessness of someone who isn't in full control of her senses. Most striking are her eyes. She isn't looking at the camera, but over it, away from the viewer. In both eyes shines a little light, but it is immediately clear these are fake lights, that they were put there with the help of a computer. They're too round and too big and artificially placed. Is the message that this woman has no light sparkling in her eyes, that she is soulless? Are we supposed to vote for a half crazy woman who has no feelings? Who is cold as ice? She is trying to look angry, but it's the anger of someone who is not really involved, just fury for the sake of scaring people. And next to her there is a word surrounded by exclamation marks. Vamos. Let's do it. Do what? I beg to know. It's pure threat, this image. I can't make anything else of it. Her companion is equally shot from nearby, but has his face turned away, looking into the distance like leaders do when they want to be real visionaries. Uncle Joe was good at it. But just like the woman, his eyes are dead and the superimposed lights are away from the pupils, where you would normally expect them. So no, I can't see them gaining too many votes from people who go for looks by lack of being informed about the real issues.

The third main party calls itself the socialist workers party, but it is socialist in name only as it complies with the neoliberal norm which is the rule in Europe. You cannot be anti tax evasion for the rich, anti war and pro nation building if you want to run a country these days. As I stated in my piece on brexit, there is only democracy in the European council and it is a strange form of democracy as the need for unanimous decision making unavoidably leads to lots of behind the scene wheeling and dealing to make unanimity attractive to all those many countries that do not really have a say in setting forth the European agenda. And it is clear that Spain isn't seen as a trendsetter, even less so since the absurd trial against the independence leaders is starting to raise eyebrows in the inner sanctum of Euro power. Well then, the socialist in name only leader had chosen a serious look, straight into the camera and printed in old style black and white. It reminds me of the socialist in fame mostly Dutch prime-minister in the nineteen seventies who campaigned with the slogan: elect the president. Although he won the vote, a last minute christian conservative coalition kept him out of government. Similarly, you would expect the straight guy, who uses slash forward heart as a logo and sometimes has quite incomprehensible word bouquets printed in bold reds over his face, to win it by a landslide. Though the poetry won't have helped. Haz que pase. Do, so it may happen. Do what ever happens. That's from a man who during his first short tenure in which he stayed floated thanks to the left and regional parties he has been distancing himself from, excelled in doing nothing. Let's hope our citizens have already forgotten, seems to have been the advertisers' thinking. Perhaps not such a comfortable win after all.

Hoping to gain some influence on post-election proceedings are we can and a score of regional parties, the Catalan ones hoping to make or break the incumbent into a somewhat fair deal they can sell to the disenchanted public. Thank you for protesting all those years, we're still in prison but we may get something out of this if all of you vote for us, do it to us baby one more time. The so-called leftwing republicans vouch for a portray of their incarcerated leader with the mouth ripped away and a text line visible underneath. Va de llibertat. It's about freedom. Is this a call to vote or hope for a better future? Nobody believes in that anymore. They missed their chance and that's it. We would have made the most out of it, though. So the message must be we sell our goal for our leader's personal freedom, and then some. Yet the then some has always proven a hard nut to crack, as promises don't mean much in Madrid. As most alternatives are worse, a sizeable number of Catalans went for this option. Less so for bourgeois indepes. Putting up the man who least deserves to be imprisoned and who has been so the longest is a nice gesture but not a serious political option. Catalunya's former christian democrats have imploded themselves ever since the bald guy stepped out. Here was hoping the tabloid twins were not going to run away with those votes.

Finally, there's our maire and her party's candidate who preciously few people know about. I like what she did with our town and I hope she wins another mandate. I guess we may at least claim the right to make living in this embattled town as pleasant as possible. This is perhaps the most beautiful characteristic of the Spanish people. I know many places around Europe where life on the street is not automatically a relaxing affair. There's plenty of small aggression and uncertainty. In my fourteen years here I've always found Spanish people would be making the most out of living together, whatever the regime du jour is throwing at them. I've found this country well ahead of Europe in this respect. Let's not throw that away. Keep it real. Keep it liveable.







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@ 2019