By Stephanie Riley
Photos: S. Riley, others
Following the national election in Greece on the 25th of January 2015, Syriza, self-proclaimed “radical” left, became the first anti-austerity party to win a national election in Europe. Syriza’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, was sworn into office as prime minister and has stated that he has many big plans for the reformation of Greece.
Syriza’s win and the effect it has on the economy of Greece have the potential to greatly impact Spain due to its similarity to Podemos, a one-year old left-wing populist party seeking to address the enormous problems of inequality, unemployment and economic problems as a result of the European debt crisis.
Although Podemos and Syriza have several differences in their party platforms, Syriza’s win in Greece is good for Podemos because it proves that an untried anti-austerity party, in contravention of the unbending fiscal policy imposed by the EU, can win. This is no pipe dream for Podemos. The startling results of the opinion poll conducted by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociologicas, a public institution, for the month of January place Podemos as voters’ second choice, after PP, the governing party, thereby displacing PSOE as the number two favorite. The socialist party has always been alternately the party in power when not in the opposition poised for take-over since the restoration of democracy in Spain in the 1970s.
The people of Spain are watching the Syriza government very closely. Though Spain’s economy is the fourth largest in the EU, and the Greek is much smaller, like Greece Spain has a high unemployment rate and a struggling economy. So if the economic situation in Greece improves under Syriza, this could mean massive political change in Spain. Moderate Spanish voters may be swayed to vote for Podemos if Syriza succeeds in bargaining for new ways to service its colossal debt with the European Central Bank, leading to a much needed relief for the Greek economy which could then have a chance to grow.
If Podemos wins the national election slated for December of this year, it will be one of the biggest changes in Spanish democracy.
The present PP administration and PSOE, the leading opposition party in Spain (for now the overnight party sensation Podemos has no representation in the Spanish Parliament), have agreed to work together and signed a more strict anti-terrorist pact in the face of the growing jihadist threat. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, signees of the pact, hope other political parties will lend their support to the initiative as it goes through the Parliament for approval.
While Spain’s current anti-terrorism legislation has been more focused on targeting local terrorist groups such as ETA, a Basque separatist organization, the new legislation will be more geared against global anti-terrorist threats in the wake of the brutal Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket killings.
After the attack in Paris, authorities in Spain have been sending more police to critical infrastructure sites and crowded public areas for added security. The projected new law will penalize recruitment for jihadist training and allow the imprisonment of any individual who travels to radical Islamic hotspots like Syria or Yemen to receive such training.
The Rajoy administration has been quietly working on this project for two years but the recent jihadist threats throughout Europe, and the events in Paris in particular, have made the stricter security measures a top priority.
The remains of Miguel de Cervantes, author of the famous novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote, Don Quixote for short, have been searched for and sought after for centuries and have been rumored to be buried in the Spanish capital after his death in 1616. Archaeologists recently discovered fragments of a coffin, bones, and other remains in the crypt of the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid where Cervantes was purportedly buried. One of the wooden boards of the disintegrating coffin is engraved with the initials M.C. that has excited the team of archaeologists and has prompted them to investigate further.
The remains must be examined for date and authenticity before any conclusions can be made about the person to whom they belonged all those centuries ago, but researchers are hopeful. Cervantes’ Don Quixote, the world’s first modern novel, was published in two parts, the first in 1605 and the second in 1615. The two-part novel had such an influential role in the development of Spanish that the language is often referred to as “the language of Cervantes.”
Don Quixote has also played a significant role in the development of Spain as a nation.
According to forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria who was present during the find, “these two letters could be very interesting,” but only “from an anthropological point of view;” they have not confirmed anything yet.
However, if after forensic testing is done the remains prove to be those of Cervantes, then it would be a very exciting discovery indeed!
Cervantes and Shakespeare were contemporaries, both dying on the 23rd of April 1616 (arguably). But while there are dark spots that remain unaccounted for in the life of the Bard of Avon, leading some to speculate on the authenticity of his authorship of some of the writings attributed to him, there’s hardly a doubt about the important aspects of the life of Cervantes, “father” of the “Man of La Mancha.” The unearthing of his remains will finally dispel the last of the few remaining doubts about this giant of universal literature.
>Topmost (featured image): Podemos’ photo composition on its Facebook page depicting buses from farflung provinces in Spain on the way to the 31 January 2015 “Marcha por el Cambio” (March for Change) rally organized by that party on Puerta del Sol, Madrid.
>Flags of the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Michalis_Famelis . Cropped
>Pedro Sanchez: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guillermo_Fern%C3%A1ndez_Vara_se_reune_con_Pedro_S%C3%A1nchez,_pr%C3%B3ximo_Secretario_General_PSOE_(2).jpg
Guidepost staff writer Stephanie Riley grew up in Texas but attended the University of Arkansas where, as a perennial of the dean’s list, she earned her Bachelor’s degree ahead of time. She currently lives in Madrid and enjoys living in the city and learning about its rich culture and history. In her free time, she loves to read as well as travel and learn new languages. She speaks Spanish fluently (apart from her native English, of course) and is currently learning French. Moreover, she plans to continue learning from others and experiencing all that life has to offer through different cultures and people.