SIU Talk – Understanding Spanish Politics

It is vital for every International Relations student to understand the political situation they find themselves in. It is only by this understanding that communication and diplomacy can develop and flourish. This week at Schiller’s Madrid campus, renowned journalist Cristina Lladó, came by to talk to our students about the current political sphere and how this will affect elections in Madrid later this month. Lladó studied International Relations in Boston University, is fluent in three languages (Spanish, English and French) and most of her professional career has been dedicated to political journalism, covering more than ten elections to date.

In order to help students better understand Spanish politics, Cristina offered insight on how the political system in Spain works and how it varies from the US system. In Spain, a party-list proportional representation is applied rather than a direct election. This means citizens do not vote for a specific candidate, but rather for a party that will then choose their representative. Lladó also elaborated on the main political parties, further explaining details on everything from the left-wing parties such as Podemos, PSOE and Ciudadanos, to the right-swing parties PP and Vox.

Recent political statistics show that for these elections, the majority of the Spanish population will be voting for left-wing parties, yet there is a staggering 40% of people surveyed that stated that they haven’t decided for whom they will cast their vote yet. Cristina explained to our students that political surveys cast right before elections are usually manipulated in order to influence people to feel a certain way and vote for a specific political party. These kind of statistics are useful to have a general idea of what the outcome could be, but they are not always necessarily accurate. During the talk, we also discussed the possibility of debates being held between the 5 candidates and the possible impacts it could have on voters.

A clear message Cristina transmitted to our students was to encourage them to vote. She gave us the example of Brexit in the UK, where only 20% of young adults voted, compared to a 60% of elderly casting their votes. This is why the decision to leave the EU was mainly decided by the older generation, but the young, who don’t want to leave, are the ones who will be mostly affected by the decision.

As Cristina said, “There is not always a second chance, so do not lose this opportunity to vote. Don’t let others decide for you, when you have the chance to decide for yourself.”