Spain Explained

Young faces come to Spanish politics

Last updated on September 13th, 2019 at 09:10 am.

If you turn on the television and tune into a political debate you expect the politicians to match a particular profile; usually male, over the age of 50, conventionally dressed and perhaps a little overweight. It is wrong to stereotype and there are exceptions, but such is the appearance of the majority of those in high government places.

However, the conventional, conforming image of the Spanish politician seems to be in a little disarray these days. Unfortunately not the ‘male’ part of the profile – party leaders continue to be unrepresentative gender-wise of half the population. No, it’s the age and attire of the Spanish politician that is seeing our expectations rocked.  

Let’s begin with Podemos. This almost unheard of political party rose to fame as a result of them winning five seats during the European elections. Their leader, Pablo Iglesias, challenges the traditional image on a number of levels. He is young (35), has a ponytail, and has banded an array of promises in the manifesto that sound like a dream come true.   

A little more conventional but still on the youthful side is, Pedro Sánchez, who at 42 has just been elected as the new secretary general of the PSOE (Socialist Workers Party). Pedro Sánchez might not challenge the gender stereotype himself but he is keen to orchestrate a step change, expressing the wish for more women politicians.

And if you thought they were young. It will be hard to beat Alberto Garzon, the 28 year old parliamentary representative for the United Left in Malaga. Is it just coincidence that these three young leaders are also good-looking?   

They all have an appeal, in one form or another, that perhaps their more staid and traditional colleagues have not. They portray a fresh, young optimism that is staunchly at odds with the picture of stark austerity that has been the trade mark message of Mariano Rajoy over the past few years.

They know how to make the media work for them and are presenting fresh ideas that will carry an attraction for those who have felt themselves caught between a rock and a hard place when it came to voting.

Of course, there will be dissenters from this youthful surge. Some voters will feel anxious about electing a tide of untried, untested whippersnappers who have not yet cut their teeth. These politicians are also characterised by their left of centre politics. A political view point that perhaps is less troubled by an unorthodox appearance than a party such as the PP. Whether you believe their manifestos are realistic or not is another matter.

However, there is something attractive about this new wave of dashing politicians. They promise transparency and grass routes democracy. With so many in Spain disillusioned and disgruntled, whether it is merely rhetoric or not, these high hopes and aspirations will be music to many ears.

More information

El País: ‘Spain’s new generation of leaders’

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