Monday, May 03, 2010

Racism Takes Centre Stage In The Catalan Campaign

There are already some clear signs that racism will be part of the campaign in the Catalan elections to be held later this year. The most notorious example came in Badalona, where the Partido Popular distributed a nasty anti-Romanian leaflet. That the PP councillor behind this racist crap turned out to have a Romanian babysitter for his children should come as no surprise. It fits neatly into the "I don't think there should be so many of them here and what's more my Polish/Bulgarian/Romanian woman doesn't clean my house properly" kind of discourse.

It's not just about the PP either, because sadly we still haven't seen the end of the saga over the attempts in the town of Vic to exclude immigrants without papers from the municipal census. Although it appeared that Vic had fallen into line after the government told them that they couldn't do this, a statement from a European Union commissioner criticising Spain's policy led to Vic adopting a new measure. They threatened to report any illegal immigrant trying to register to the authorities. The intention is less one of upholding the law, it's much more about deterring immigrants from registering.

Vic has now been joined in this policy by another municipality, Sant Andreu de Llavaneres. This latter case gives the game away, it's a wealthy place with a low percentage of immigrants and where many of those from outside come from the European Union anyway. Despite this the PP and the conservative nationalists of Convergència i Unió have united to remind any illegal immigrants in the area that they are just there to tend the gardens of the richer inhabitants.

This kind of behaviour is nothing to do particularly with Cataluña, as I'm sure we'll find out next year when more regional elections are due to be held in Spain. It's just that the PP does so badly there that there is little they will stop at in return for a handful of votes. It's an ugly warning signal given that there has still been relatively little backlash against immigrants during the crisis. Anyone who has seen the dismal portrayal of immigration as only being a problem in the UK election debates will be aware of what some will try to do here.


lost said...

I'm wondering if the day will ever come where someone is prosecuted for hiring an illegal alien.

When I left the US, it was still pretty common to hire Mexicans for nannies, etc, but at least politicians started being forced to disclose illegal hiring (which usually also includes failing to pay social security, minimum wage, and severance), which in some cases ended up ruining their careers.

I always thought that a good idea to reduce black market hiring in general was to increase the power of the employees to take the employer to court and be award back wages, etc, and add punitive fines for the employers.

Graeme said...

The problem is how to deal with it without hurting the worker more than the employer. Further news on the man behind the Badalona PP leaflet is that he's not even legally empadronado in Badalona.