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This is no time for antics in Congress

Deputies should get down to work. They’ve already wasted half a year.

Rosario G. Gómez
Podemos deputy Diego Cañamero with a protest shirt.
Podemos deputy Diego Cañamero with a protest shirt.Ballesteros (EFE)

There was no room for showmanship on Tuesday. Most of the deputies who sat in the inaugural session of Congress were veterans.

The members of Unidos Podemos were no longer blown away by the sight of the chamber, nor did they stare at the visible damage made by bullets during the failed coup of February 23, 1981. Neither did they look around for a spot to hang their coat, this being July, as they did following the original election of December 20.

This time, Podemos deputy Carolina Bescansa showed up without her baby, PP deputy Celia Villalobos looked less euphoric than on January 13, perhaps because she had just lost her deputy speaker position, and the members of the regional Valencian party Compromís walked in without the marching band that followed them to the doors of Congress at the beginning of the previous term.

With its dozens of television cameras, Congress awards great visibility to protests of all kinds

Even so, a few congressmembers continued to observe their own particular form of social and political awareness campaigns. The members of the green group Equo, with Juan López de Uralde in the lead, pedaled up Carrera de San Jerónimo on bicycles bearing small green flags, their “corporate” color. Meanwhile, the t-shirt-with-a-message performance fell to the unionist Diego Cañamero, whose attire bore the image of Andrés Bódalo, a Podemos councilor from Jaén who was convicted for assaulting a Socialist politician. And the Compromís delegation exhibited a message of their own: “We will not resign ourselves. Another government is possible.”

Wearing clothes with protest messages to Congress is a relatively habitual practice. Miners from León and Asturias brought attention to their plight in 2012 by sitting in the visitor gallery while Congress was in session one day. As the industry minister began his address, the miners stood up and displayed black t-shirts with the message: “No to the shutdown of mining.” The speaker of Congress immediately had them expelled.

Feminists from Femen were also forcibly removed from the lower house, though not for displaying shirts – rather, for removing them in front of the representatives. Three activists were protesting the abortion reform project being defended by the justice minister at the time, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. With its dozens of television cameras, Congress awards great visibility to protests of all kinds.

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What the Tuesday session did have in common with the previous inaugural session was the variety of ways in which the new deputies swore allegiance to the Spanish Constitution. The members of Unidos-Podemos, in particular, came up with all kinds of formulas, including reciting verses by the poet Miguel Hernández, as though they were competing for a role at an audition.

Now that the first day of school is over, it is time for deputies to drop the witticisms, the posing, the antics, the clowning around and the lack of rigor. It would be good if they got down to work. They’ve already wasted half a year.

English version by Susana Urra.

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