By Ingrid Melander MADRID (Reuters) - Spain heads to the polls on Sunday for its most divisive and open-ended election in decades, set to result in a fragmented parliament in which the far-right will get a sizeable presence for the first time since the country's return to democracy. After a tense campaign dominated by emotive issues, notably national identity and gender equality, the likelihood that any coalition deal will take weeks or months to be brokered will feed into a broader mood of political uncertainty across Europe. At least five parties from across the political spectrum have a chance of being in government and they could struggle to agree on a deal between them, meaning a repeat election is one of several possible outcomes. A few things are clear, however, based on opinion polls and conversations with party insiders. No single party will get a majority; the Socialist party of outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is leading the race; and there will be lawmakers from the … [Read more...] about All to play for as polarised Spain votes after tense campaign
Catalans playing for spain
So Christmas, the New Year and Three Kings Day (Epiphany) in Spain again. Lots of presents for the kids, delicious cakes and chocolates, festive feasts, colourful parades and the annual debate about blackface for the people playing Balthasar in the Wise Men (Three Kings) processions that delight youngsters across the country after they have written their letters asking for lots of toys and put some carrots out for the camels. This year, football star Andrés Iniesta is in hot water after posting a photo of himself on Twitter smiling away next to two friends with blacked-up Wise Men faces. In Alcoy (Alicante), there’s a local group of 200 “black boys” who dress up and run round giving kids presents. Blackface even made it onto the popular kids cooking programme MasterChef Junior this week, on TVE, Spain’s equivalent of the BBC. It’s just tradition, most Spaniards will tell you, Spain isn’t racist, it’s the Three Kings, that’s just … [Read more...] about ANALYSIS: Innocent Christmas blackface or a slippery xenophobic slope for the right in Spain?
Carol concerts, glittering lights and a healthy dose of consumerism: in many respects Christmas in Spain is a thoroughly familiar experience. The Christmas season gets fully underway with the December puente, when the nation enjoys two bank holidays - on December 6th and December 8th – and continues right up until Epihany on January 6th. But alongside the cute craft markets and the ice skating rinks, there are some traditions that mark this time of year in Spain as unique. SHOP AT A CHRISTMAS MARKET: While Spain's Christmas markets might not have the prestige of their Central European counterparts, they are becoming more and more popular. The biggest Christmas market in Spain is on Madrid's Plaza Mayor (pictured) and there are also impressive ones in Barcelona, Seville and Granada. Be sure to check out some traditional handmade Spanish Christmas decorations or maybe get a new baby Jesus for your crib. MARVEL AT A CHRISTMAS CRIB: "La familia al Completo" … [Read more...] about Twelve ways to get into the Christmas spirit in Spain
Photo: Josep Ma. Rosell/Flickr From Catalonia's 'crapping log' to the Basque Country's very own version of Santa Claus, The Local guides you through the weird and wonderful world of Spanish Christmas. Nativity scenes Residents take part in a 'living' Belen in in Arcos de la Frontera, near Cadiz in 2013. Photo: AFP Spaniards love their nativity scenes and many municipalities display a public one in the run up to Christmas. But they don't always follow the traditional format of Holy family in a stable surrounded by farm animals. Some towns stage a "living" Belen - the Spanish word for Bethlehem - with real actors and real animals. But others choose to make a social statement with the scene. This year Barcelona has caused controversery by displaying a modern take on the biblical scene in giant bubbles, including representations of the Holy family emerging from cardboard boxes. Caganers Photo: AFP The caganers or … [Read more...] about 12 weird and wonderful Christmas traditions celebrated across Spain
Adam Garcia, the founder of MadRead, a new online bookstore bringing the latest English book releases to Spain, shares his top ten essential reads with The Local readers. In some ways, Spain is a very familiar country. The Iberian Peninsular is a common holiday destination for most Europeans and you may have visited prior to making the move to live here. Yet in other ways, Spain is unlike any other country on earth. It has a complicated and partly ‘forgotten’ history full of conflict, be it due to power, politics, territory, invasion, persecution, family and yes of course, football. This complex past results in subtle comments and attitudes from Spaniards that are difficult to understand without a good understanding of their origins. Reading is the best way to achieve that understanding, but .... ten cuidado! History is only told by those who survive it and can be slanted to portray the teller’s personal opinions rather than fact, … [Read more...] about Ten books that tell you everything you need to know about Spain