(Spanish MP Andrea Fabra, with long blond hair, shouts “fuck them” in response to the announcement of cuts to unemployment benefits.)

Politics in Spain have always been frustrating to me. The bipartisanism, the black-and-white, good-vs-evil world view of the electorate, and the impunity of politicians who cheat, lie, don’t do their job and still get to keep it. (This is a simplified and exaggerated view, of course, but a rant leaves little room for careful differentiation.)

Maybe it’s fitting that the Spanish MP at the centre of the current scandal should be the first-born daughter of Carlos Fabra, President of Castellón from 1995 to 2011 and currently charged and awaiting trial for corruption. On the other hand, I guess it could have been anyone. The above video shows Andrea Fabra in parliament on 11 July 2012, as Spanish president Mariano Rajoy announced new budget cuts that mean no Christmas pay for civil servants, later retirement, higher VAT and lower unemployment payments.

It’s already been noted that the PP MPs reacted strangely euphorically to these announcements, but Ms Fabra went further and actually shouted “que se jodan” – “fuck them” (whether at opposition MPs, the unemployed or the electorate at large is unclear). When I watched the video last night it made my blood boil, but by today I’m not even that surprised anymore: I’m sure Ms Fabra stands by her view, and I don’t expect she’ll resign over the comment. 

In the current crisis, political discourse in Spain is descending ever more into vile insults – Spanish-speakers just have to check the comments on government leaders’ Facebook pages and replies to Twitter messages. Empathy for “the other side” has never been important in the Spanish mentality, but the current levels of violence, verbal and otherwise, are something new, and worrying. When political leaders show that little respect for the people they’re supposed to serve, how do they expect the people to respect they system they represent?