Femen, a fainting deputy, Candy Crush and a Basque hot potato

The 2015 State of the Nation Debate has been characterized by a few bizarre moments

The moment when Deputy Joan Baldoví fainted in Congress.Photo: reuters_live | Video: Claudio Álvarez / EL PAÍS LIVE

The 2015 State of the Nation Debate, which has been taking place throughout Tuesday and Wednesday in Spain’s Congress, might end up being less remembered for its political discourse than for a number of bizarre occurrences: from the deputy speaker being caught on camera playing Candy Crush, to a spokesperson passing out mid-speech.

The fainting deputy. The spokesperson for Compromís, Joan Baldoví, had to stop mid-sentence during his appearance in the debate on Wednesday, and promptly fainted. The incident, which took place at 11.16am, saw proceedings halted for nearly 10 minutes. A number of deputies rushed to his aid, including Public Works Minister Ana Pastor, who is a qualified doctor. Baldoví was eventually removed from the chamber, conscious but in a wheelchair. Before he fainted, the Compromís spokesman was criticizing the government’s record by holding up signs bearing each letter of the alphabet. He had got as far as the letter E when he was forced to stop.

The video that purports to show Celia Villalobos playing Candy Crush in Congress.

Candy Crush. Social networking sites were on Tuesday buzzing with the news that the deputy speaker in Congress, Celia Villalobos, had apparently been caught playing Candy Crush on her iPad during Wednesday’s debate. Filmed from the press gallery, Villalobos appeared to be playing the popular game while Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was responding to a speech by CiU deputy Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida. Villalobos later claimed that she was reading the press on her tablet device. The parliamentary spokesman, Jesús Posada, came to her defense saying that Villalobos always paid “great attention” to the debates. “If one thing is clear, it’s that she is always paying attention to what is going on,” he added.

Mariano Rajoy’s hot potatoes. The spokesperson for the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) in Congress, Aitor Esteban, had this to say to the prime minister on Wednesday during his speech: “[Rajoy] has two hot potatoes: the Catalan potato,” in reference to the region’s drive for independence, “and the euskalpatata,” a combination of the word Euskadi, the name of the Basque Country in the regional language, and the Spanish word for potato. He went on to accuse Rajoy of “ignoring the demands of the majority,” in reference to the region’s own bid for self-rule.

Bare-breasted activists from Femen run toward the Congress building on Tuesday.
Bare-breasted activists from Femen run toward the Congress building on Tuesday.JAVIER SORIANO (AFP)

Femen for Freedom. Two activists from the feminist organization Femen staged a protest outside Congress on Tuesday ahead of the debate. Just before the prime minister was due to deliver his speech, two topless activists tried to get past the police cordon outside the parliament building shouting “Protesting is not illegal!” and “Femen for freedom!” The slogans were in reference to recent legislation passed by the government that restricts the rights of protestors. Click here to see a video of the Femen protest.

Reprimand from Villalobos. Deputy speaker Celia Villalobos had a rebuke for the Catalan Greens spokesperson Joan Coscubiela after he referred to Mariano Rajoy as the “capo of a family,” an allusion to a mafia boss. “The term ‘capo’ in this country has a meaning that neither the prime minister of the government nor any other member of this chamber deserves,” Villalobos told him.

Oranges in the sea. Ana Oramas, from the Canarian Coalition, ended her speech during the debate with a touch of poetry. “The Canarians are still hoping to find oranges in the sea of the Popular Party government,” she told deputies.

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