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ANALYSIS: Could Women's Day change how people vote in Spain's election?

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ANALYSIS: Could Women's Day change how people vote in Spain's election?
A protest in Barcelona. Photo: AFP
14:38 CET+01:00
The way Spain's political parties are reacting to International Women's Day events across Spain is being watched carefully. But will it change the way people vote?
The official manifesto for today's Women's Day marches in Spain contains references to the Second Republic, the Civil War and the fight against Franco: "faced with the right and extreme right that has placed us, as women and migrant women, as a priority target in their ultraliberal, racist, patriarchal offensive".
 
In its editorial, El País argues for "radical equality" and traces the origins of this "fourth wave" of feminism on the first anniversary of last year's marches to "a feminist tradition rooted at least as far back as the Second Republic" in the 1930s, a now "irreversible" trend within a current context of "globalisation's broken promises" and the rise of national populism, which seeks to re-portray women as "the bearers of national essences".
 
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Photo: AFP

The general election is still nearly two months away, but Mr. Sánchez on his Twitter account this morning suggested Spain is still not a full democracy: "We want a feminist Spain, because only from feminism will we end chauvinist violence and achieve real equality".  In an interview with Faro de Vigo, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said democracy "cannot exist" without equality between men and women.

 
 
During a radio debate together, Vox's Rocío Monasterio rejected the Deputy PM's position, arguing the Spanish Constitution already recognises full equality between men and women, and defended the broadening of the concept of gender violence to domestic violence, to include the elderly and children. She tweeted her party did not want a "supremacist feminism that uses us".
 
 
El Mundo would like to see "liberal, inclusive" feminism. Spain, says the daily, "is a good country in which to be born a woman" but inequality persists, "the cause of women is the cause of dignity". The paper has published a poll saying 44 percent of Spaniards know a woman who has been mistreated, while 38 percent know a man who has been unjustly accused of such behaviour. "No one", they write, "is unaware of how Sánchez and his allies are making electoral use of feminism".
 
There are so far no female candidates for Prime Minister in Spain, although Podemos spokeswoman Irene Montero, Pablo Iglesias's partner, has hinted recently that might be about to change. Despite the elections being just around the corner, Mr. Iglesias is still on paternity leave and the party messed up an attempt to announce his comeback this week. A poster they issued just days before Women's Day centred on his image, with his fist raised in the air, and said "HE is back". He said he did not feel "identified" with the poster and the party quickly withdrew it, but not before social media users and the media got hold of it.
 
 
The Popular Party said it was not going to the official march this Friday, because of the language in the manifesto, and announced its own. Mr. Casado made sure to get his photo taken with lots of female party members, writing it would be impossible to understand PP's success "without the contribution of women". March 8th, said the party, "has to be a day for all women […] to unite us in common cause and not a day against anybody".
 
 
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said his party would go to the marches today but also did not agree with the official manifesto, and he too made sure to get a video out surrounded by female party members.
 
There are 23,800,000 women in Spain (vs. 22.9 million men) and last year, according to new judicial figures out today, 166,961 complaints were filed in the courts in Spain that deal specifically with violence against women, 110,000 of them via statements to the police. 27,000 protection orders were issued, and 51,000 cases ended up being tried in a court. Most of the convictions are for assault or breaking a restraining order. 1.500 sexual assault cases were 0.9 percent of the total, and 74 murders appear as 0.0 percent of cases in the report.
 
Government figures classify 984 women murdered because of gender violence since 2003 but UN data for Spain say the country has one of the lowest murder-of-women rates in the world: 0.5 per 100,000 women, the same as Italy and Greece, compared to 15.7 in El Salvador or 10.4 in the Central African Republic. 2015 figures show while 17.101 women were killed in India that year, in Spain the total was 121. More men are murdered in Spain each year than women, although the numbers continue to decline slowly each year for both sexes.
 
 
Of the men convicted of some form of crime against women, 28 percent are foreigners. The 2018 population figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE) show foreign men are 10.1 percent of all men in Spain. There are also different conviction rates for the two groups: 84.1 percent for Spanish men, 90.8 percent for foreigners.
 
It will be interesting to see if today's marches create as big of an impact in Spain as they did last year, and what effect they have on the polls: the PSOE appears to be picking up votes on the left as Podemos flounders and Vox has the most radically opposed discourse on the issue on the right.
 
Matthew Bennett is the creator of The Spain Report. You can read more of his writing on Patreon, and follow him on Twitter. Don't miss his podcast series with weekly in-depth analysis on Spain.

Matthew Bennett is the creator of The Spain Report. You can read more of his writing on Patreon, and follow him on Twitter. Don't miss his podcast series with weekly in-depth analysis on Spain.

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