That fateful Monday morning I had just finished my first class. Fortunately, my next class would be in the same classroom. I slowly packed up my materials and shuffled over towards one of the desks in the front of the classroom. Before long, the classroom was brimming full of students and my professor began preparing his upcoming lecture by uploading pertinent articles. The title of this course is “Themes of Sociopolitical Actuality in Spain.” Despite it being the second official day of class, I was still unsure about exactly what this class constituted. The previous class had basically been, as I like to call it, “a syllabus day”.
I would soon find out in spectacular fashion. The professor commenced the class by emphasizing that our shared mission would be to better grasp contemporary political and social developments in Spain. Using last weekend’s protests in Madrid as a point of analysis, he immediately dove into what key political developments explain the volatility of the situation today.
For starters, he pointed out that Mariano Rajoy, a member of Partido Popular (PP), had been the elected for a second term in the 2016 general election. In the years that followed, his tenure had been marred with corruption scandals. The situation worsened to such an extent that all the parties on both sides of the political spectrum came to an agreement to replace Rajoy with Pedro Sanchez, a member of PSOE. However, PSOE didn’t have sufficient seats in the government necessary to implement its agenda.
Specifically, in order to have an absolute majority, the magic number of seats is 176. PSOE needed to forge alliances with other parties in order to capture the necessary amount of seats. Therefore, Pedro Sanchez was faced with the uncomfortable option of having to negotiate with the separatist Cataluña parties. Unsurprisingly, this decision was not received well by everyone. Hence, a huge demonstration was organized in Madrid last weekend by three major parties on the opposite side of the aisle: Ciudadanos, Partido Popular, and VOX.
Meanwhile, my mind was racing as I attempted to grasp all of these fascinating political maneuvers. Also, a classmate had given me a piece of gum which I had begun to chew on vigorously. Nevertheless, I was so intrigued by the information I was learning that I was oblivious to this fact. Anyway, what really made my wheels churn was when my professor shared with us that for the longest time in Spain, people didn’t display Spanish flags in their homes or in other settings due to the painful memories it invoked of Franco.
Upon hearing this, my jaw nearly dropped. I had personally forgotten to bring a Spanish flag which had been gifted to me by my friend. As the class wrapped up, I had a silly grin on my face and one phrase floated in my mind. “El conocimiento nos libera” (Knowledge liberates us).
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