Traitor! Fascist! How to hurl insults like a politician in Spain

For weeks Spanish politicians have traded insults such as "traitor" and "fascist" as they seek to rally voters ahead of a general election on Sunday by reviling their rivals.

Traitor! Fascist! How to hurl insults like a politician in Spain
Pedro Sanchez (R) and Albert Rivera ahead of a televised debate. Photo:

“It's an especially paroxysmal, polarising campaign, riddled with hyperboles and without concrete discussions of the issues,” Manuel Arias, a political science professor at the University of Malaga told AFP.   

With opinion polls showing many voters will decide at the last minute, left-wing parties — including Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists — and their right-wing rivals are locked into a duel of inflamed rhetoric, warning of the danger that voting for the other side represents.

READ MORE: All the words you need to know to understand Spain's general election

This is happening in “a new international context” of “emerging populisms” and strident speeches in both Europe and the Americas which is “somehow permeating” Spain's election campaign, said Jose Ruiz San Roman, a professor of sociology and public opinion at the Complutense University of Madrid.   

Shortly after the snap election was called in February, Casado caused a stir when in a single speech he lobbed over 20 insults against Sanchez, calling him “the biggest traitor in Spain's democratic history”, a “compulsive liar”, “disloyal”, “egotist”, “mediocre” and an “illegitimate prime minister”.

He recently accused Sanchez of making a pact with “a hydra with seven heads made up of Batasuna, ETA supporters, communists, pro-Chavez, pro-Castro forces.”

Casado was referring to the fact that Sanchez came to power in June after winning a no-confidence vote against his PP predecessor with the support of Catalan separatists, far-left party Podemos and Basque independence party Bildu, a successor of Batasuna, the banned political wing of armed separatist group ETA.

'Black and white Spain'

The leader of centre-right party Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, has said removing Sanchez from office is a “national emergency” because of his willingness to engage with Catalan separatist parties.

“The Frankenstein government has died, but Sanchez will try to resuscitate it by any means,” he tweeted recently.   

Meanwhile, Santiago Abascal, the leader of far-right party Vox which is on course to win its first seats in parliament, has railed against “traitors who today govern, supported by all of Spain's enemies.”

The Socialists have warned of a return to a “Spain in black and white” if the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox win the most seats in the polls, as they did in a local election in December in the southern region of Andalusia, a Socialist fiefdom.

The party argues Vox is “clearly Francoist”, in a reference to dictatorship of General Francisco Franco which lasted from 1939 until his death in 1975.

'Fear works'

During two televised debates on Monday and Tuesday Sanchez, Casado and Rivera accused each other of lying while the leader of far-left party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, repeatedly urged his rivals not to “overact”.   

Polls suggest no party is likely to command an overall majority, with a hung parliament almost certain.   

“A very emotional discourse is being used and fear is the most basic emotion, and it produces the quickest reaction” in voters, said Silvia Martinez, professor of social media, management and strategy at the Open University of Catalonia.

Ruiz San Roman said the verbal attacks come at an unparalleled time in Spain's modern history, amid a “very hard” Catalan push for independence and in the wake of high-profile political corruption cases like one that led Sanchez to oust the PP from power with the no-confidence vote.

“Fear works well. Because if I create real fear in you, identify the other with that real fear… the solution is easy: you cast your vote for the opposite side,” he noted.

Here are some of the insults hurled between political rivals during the campaign.

Traidor – traitor

Felón– felon, criminal

Mentiroso compulsivo – complusive liar

Ridículo – .ridiculous

Adalid de la ruptura en España – champion of the break up of Spain.

Incapaz – useless

Desleal – disloyal

Ególatra.- egotistical

Chovinista del poder.-power hungry chauvenist

Rehén – hostage

Okupa – squatter (often used against Sanchez for his role as PM without being elected as such)

fascista – fascist

feminazi – extreme feminist

chaquetero – turncoat

READ ALSO: Eight of the most outrageous rude expressions to learn in Spanish

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The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia

Even if you speak Spanish, if you're living in Catalonia, it's a good idea to learn some Catalan too. Here are some basic phrases you need to get by.

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia
Image: Photos_Marta/ Pixabay

While everyone in the bigger Catalan cities such as Barcelona or Tarragona will speak Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some Catalan too.

Not only is this sure to win you some brownie points with the locals, but it will enrich your experience of living in the region and allow you to make new friends. This is particularly true when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in rural Catalonia too.


Greetings are a great way to start out practicing your Catalan. Your neighbours will be delighted and appreciate greetings in their local language. Because the phrases are short, they’re easy to remember and don’t invite long answers that you won’t be able to understand.

Bon dia – Good day

This phrase is used all the time in Catalonia, even more so than ‘Hola’. You would use it for greeting someone anytime up until the afternoon, after which you would say 'Bona tarda'. 

Encantat! Molt de gust! – Pleased to meet you.

Com estás? – How are you?

Bona nit – Good night

Greetings in Catalan. Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels


Being polite

Another very easy way to slip in some Catalan here and there is to use it in small polite phrases. Even if you don’t know the Catalan for the whole phrase, you could easily add please or thank you on the end.

Si us plau – Please

Moltes gràcies – Thank you very much

De res – You’re welcome

Saying thank you in Catalan. Image: Ka Young Seo / Pixabay 

Eating out

When you’re a bit more confident with your Catalan, eating out is the perfect time to put it all into practice. You don’t have to keep the conversation going a long time and there are particular useful phrases that you can memorise.  

Teniu una taula per dos? – Do you have a table for two?

La carta, si us plau – The menu please

El comte, si us plau – The bill please

No puc menjar… – I can’t eat…
This one may be useful if there’s something that you’re allergic to or can’t eat, such as gluten or dairy for example.

Eating out. Image: Ji-yeon Yun / Pixabay 


Like eating out, shopping is another perfect chance to put your Catalan out in the real world.

Quant costa això? – How much does that cost?

Tens un altre color? – Do you have a different colour?

Tens una talla més gran/petita? – Do you have a bigger/smaller size?

Pots ajudar-me? – Can you help me?


READ MORE: Ten colourful Catalan phrases you should learn right now