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Gabriela Bustelo

Spain’s Old New Clothes

If Andersen lived in today’s Spain he could rewrite the tale with a nude crowd and a bunch of overdressed politicians who are so incompetent (not to say stupid) that they see the naked and bereft crowd, but pretend to see everybody well-dressed and overjoyed.

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Spain’s Old New Clothes

If Andersen lived in today’s Spain he could rewrite the tale with a nude crowd and a bunch of overdressed politicians who are so incompetent (not to say stupid) that they see the naked and bereft crowd, but pretend to see everybody well-dressed and overjoyed.

Though second-hand clothes have never been as popular in Spain as they are in the rest of Europe, the economic crisis is making Spanish consumers lose their disgust for what used to be popularly considered as “dirty old clothes”. There’s a new shop in Barcelona called La Ropateca, where you can rent 3 pieces of clothing for a 15-Euro monthly membership. This practical solution for the impoverished Spanish pockets also solves the storage problem.

Clothes are a traditional metaphor for politics, but in two centuries no one has yet surpassed Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about two charlatans who promise their emperor an attire made with such delicate fabric that it will seem invisible to anyone stupid or incompetent. So the emperor struts out of his palace thinking he’s wearing this marvelous outfit and is cheered by the pious crowd till a child cries out: “But he’s naked!”.

If Andersen lived in today’s Spain he could rewrite the tale with a nude crowd and a bunch of overdressed politicians who are so incompetent (not to say stupid) that they see the naked and bereft crowd, but pretend to see everybody well-dressed and overjoyed. This is more or less what’s happened in Spain’s May elections. The gap between the conservatives in power and the crisis-stricken Spaniards –suffering a 24 percent unemployment rate– is so huge that Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party does not understand exactly what they’ve done wrong. It must certainly be a lot to have lost 2.5 million votes since the last local elections four years ago. While the international media analyzes the circumstances correctly, Spanish right-wing politicians seem incapable of the self-criticism that would help them find out why they’ve had the worst electoral results in 20 years. Maybe an outspoken Danish child could help them out.

 

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