Babies, bicycles and marching bands in the new Spanish Congress

The first day of the newly constituted parliament was rife with anecdotes

Equo deputies Juan López de Uralde (left) and Jorge Luis Bail arriving on their bycicles.
Equo deputies Juan López de Uralde (left) and Jorge Luis Bail arriving on their bycicles.E. Naranjo (EFE)

The first session of Congress following the general election of December 20 was a day to remember on several counts.

Besides the historical significance of a Congress full of new faces after two emerging parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos, secured 69 and 40 seats, respectively, the session was rife with anecdotes.

Disputing the spotlight from the newly elected congressional speaker, Patxi López, was a six-month-old baby whose mother – the other nominee to the position – breastfed him as the votes were cast.

The Compromís delegation, which showed up in the company of a marching band, explained that this is “the Valencian way”

As a matter of fact, the infant received a vote from one of the deputies, who decided that “Carolina Bescansa’s child” should be the next house speaker.

This ballot, cast in the runoff vote, was considered void.

Before that, other deputies showed up at the door of Congress on two-wheeled transport or with a marching band in tow.

Juan López de Uralde, former head of Greenpeace Spain and founder of the green group Equo, which ran for Congress in association with Podemos, arrived on his bicycle after joining a group of cyclists heading the same way.

Podemos deputy Carolina Bescansa's baby received one vote supporting his appointment as new congressional speaker.
Podemos deputy Carolina Bescansa's baby received one vote supporting his appointment as new congressional speaker.Sergio Barrenechea (EFE)

“We were trying to draw attention to the fact that we are going to work toward a sustainable model. And we wanted to make that visible by arriving like this, and showing that the road ahead is still complicated,” said Uralde, who was not allowed through the main doors of the Congress courtyard with his two-wheel vehicle.

Instead, he and fellow Equo deputies Rosa Martínez and Jorge Luis Bail had to go in through the back door after leaving their bikes inside the parking lot.

Just a few meters from there, several deputies for the Valencian party Compromís sauntered up Carrera de San Jerónimo in the company of an entire marching band blowing on their trumpets and banging on their drums. Group leader Joan Baldoví explained that this is the Valencian way, surrounded by “good music and young people.”

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And with the music still blaring in the background, a figure whose face was concealed behind sunglasses and a scarf stepped into the scene. It was Juan Carlos Monedero, a co-founder and former leader of Podemos who left the party in April following allegations of tax irregularities.

He, too, attempted to enter the premises on a bicycle, but the police officers stopped him from doing so.

Podemos also complained about the police frisking two of its members, including Rita Maestre, the spokeswoman for the city of Madrid, who gained notoriety in 2011 after interrupting a Catholic service at Madrid’s Complutense University, screaming and nude from the waist up, in what she herself described as a peaceful protest in favor of secularism. She was charged with offending religious sentiment and will be tried on February 18.

She and José Manuel López, the Podemos spokesman in the regional Madrid assembly, were allegedly asked “with bad manners” by security personnel whether they were carrying any protest material inside their backpacks that might disturb the session.

English version by Susana Urra.

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