Now let’s take a quick detour to Southern Europe, to one of our favourite holiday destinations – Spain! Here we speak to a student, who might have wished to remain anonymous, yet provides an amazing insight into Spanish politics. First, what do Estonians know about Spanish politics? Let’s find out!
Do you know anything about Spanish foreign or domestic policy?
“Elections coming soon?”
“Catalonian independence movement”
We did find out that 72% of those who responded followed the independence referendum in Catalonia. Hopefully this interview will unknot the topic for everyone! Let’s dive in.
Tell me about yourself. Are you an active community member? If yes, why do you feel it’s important? Is it a normal thing in your country/community to do so?
I have always been interested in the community I live in, and due to this fact, I try to be active and participate in various social activities. These activities allow me to learn about important community challenges and help me to discover other points of view I did not consider before. In Spain (the country I live in), a part of our youth is interested in being active, although participation has decreased due to the political tensions that we have in the country.
How is youth activism organized in your nation and what is the role of the EU in it?
I guess there is no specific organization which dedicates itself to promoting youth activism in Spain, but we have other ones which try to create social meetings and experiences. For example, political parties have ‘new generations’ groups, formed by young activists. There are also educational activities such as the Model European Parliament or Model United Nations, as well as many meetings regarding social challenges are organised regularly by non-governmental groups.
How do people in your country perceive the EU? How do politicians?
The majority of the youth support the European Union, but during the last few years, right-wing ideologists have started to talk about Euroscepticism. From my point of view, this vision is not positive at all because we know we do need the European Union to face the challenges that we have in Spain, and also on European frontiers. But it is true that mostly all the political parties – except the one just mentioned before – put trust in Europe and want to keep our position on the global arena.
What does the EU mean for you personally?
For me, the European Union means peace and the future because we have achieved a lot as a political union in the last few years. We try to help each other as we believe in cooperation, we try to help other countries when they need support from Europe, and we try to advance together towards a greater future where respect and prosperity are the basic pillars of our union.
How would you describe your country to a foreigner?
Spain is probably one of the most ancient countries in the whole European Union since we have been governed as a one “nation” for many centuries. For me, Spain is the diversity of cultures, languages, unity and respect, where everyone can find peace and home. Spain is a very safe country, a place where people can show freely their opinion, and love who they want to love regardless of gender. It is a country that allows enjoying every gastronomic and cultural experience that each regional community has to offer.
What do you hope for your country to achieve or develop in?
I know we have achieved a lot as a nation, but we still have a lot of things to do. For the future, I would like Spain to recover the politics that we, as Spaniards, deserve. We, as a nation, are tired of the people who govern us, when they do not care at all about social problems. I would like politicians to allow the independence of the judicial power and lead lawyers and judges to interpret and write the law according to the needs of the country. I would also like to see a more tolerable society in which every person, regardless of ideology, feels free to show his or her opinion, both, left and right-wing views.
How will you contribute to achieving this goal?
I think it is time for Spain to move on and overcome the Civil War and the totalitarian dictatorship we had 50 years ago. I think it is time for us to realise that we have a country of diversity and that this difference makes us greater and not worse. Therefore, I think we, as young people, need to respect all opinions when those follow constitutional interpretations. Spain is the future, and the future is the youth, so we need to move on and focus on real problems, instead of keeping our attention on something which took place half a century ago.
How can the EU contribute to the prosperity of your country?
The European Union is the future, and this political union can allow us to be a better country. Spanish representatives now can have a voice in the European Parliament and in the European Commission, something which gives us the opportunity to be heard. Moreover, this unity allows our culture to be more known all around Europe and can help us to overcome the economic and geopolitical challenges we do have right now within our borders.
What do you think the EU will look like in 30 years?
I have a lot of trust in this political unity, and I think that if we keep working as we do today, the European Union will look more unified and useful in the future. I guess that if our representatives continue giving voice to our countries with respect, non-corruption and confidence, the ones who support Euroscepticism will see how great the Union it is. Moreover, in 30 years, the union will be more consolidated and organized because everything needs time to be good and quasi-perfect.
How have the far-right politicians getting more and more attention and support changed the political sphere in Spain?
As I mentioned before, far-right politicians have entered the Spanish sphere, and it is something that affects us as a country and as a society. But, the appearance of the far-right is due to the far-left political groups who do not respect the diversity of opinions in Spain and still do not see how a country with other ideologies can live in perfect harmony. I personally think both far-right and far-left politicians should stop with their demagogic speeches and try to sit down and find solutions to the actual problems that we do have as a country.
Has the war in Ukraine cooled down or heated up discussions in Spain concerning minorities such as Catalan gaining independence?
The issue with Catalonia has been active for more than one century, and, although nowadays this tension has decreased, there will always be someone who wants Catalonia to be independent. For me, Catalonia and other regions of Spain have arguments to show why they want to be independent as they have different languages and cultures and suffered totalitarian censorship. But it is true that since 1978, the Constitution fully guarantees their rights and freedoms, giving the power to each region to govern and to legislate when something concerns themselves. So, no, I do not think the war in Ukraine has cooled down the independent movements because tensions are still present, although the Constitution, Congress and Senate fully respect the diversity of opinions and the diversity of cultures of every regional community.
The campaign is sponsored by the German Embassy in Tallinn
Image: Thu Truang, Pexels