On May 27 this year, we will have municipal elections in Spain and for the first time here, my wife and I will have the right to vote. I might let a bike road be the decisive factor for my choice of party, but if I do, that will turn my Catalan friends against me.
Vilanova is a nice place to live but for night life Sitges has a lot more to offer. For local people, taking the car back after an evening out is perfectly fine even when they have had more than one glass of wine. I must confess to occasionally have fallen into the Spanish relaxedness about this, but I do not feel comfortable doing so. In my native Sweden, the solution in this situation is to go home by bike, in spite of the weather conditions.
Unfortunately, going back from Sitges on a bicycle in the night is not an option today. The first part of the road is the worst. As soon as you have the town limits behind you, you will be on a country road with only a narrow curbside and at the end of it you have to pass through a number of curves before you reach the safety of the bike roads starting after the roundabout to Vilanova and Sant Pere. Spanish car drivers tend to be arrogant and careless, not the least after a night out. To meet them while you cycle on this road in daylight is unpleasant, but to do so in the dark is to challenge faith.
Therefore, in the Diari de Vilanova of April 20, I was happy to see that a top candidate of the new political party Ciutadans puts the idea of a bike road through the Garraf region on the political agenda. I am convinced that this could serve as a magnet for high quality tourists, notably those who are not into sailing but still want to spend their vacation in an active way.
Analysing Ciutadans’ programme further, I must admit that I like their stressing of the importance of education, security and health care. Still I doubt that I will vote for them. In their own eyes, Spanish politics is stuck on a left and right wing scale. What I personally find much more disturbing, is that regional versus national perspectives seems to be the main focus of politics on all levels in this country. With that in mind, Ciutadans is just yet another player since they are marked by their negative attitude to the estatut of Catalonia. The estatut is a charter which outlines the limits for regional autonomy within the framework of Spain. It cost a lot of time and energy to negotiate it but now the people of Catalonia have given their approval in a referendum and subsequently it has been ratified by the Spanish parliament.
Ciutadans as a party was born in defense of the Spanish speakers of the region, as opposed to the normalització or strengthening of Catalan. They are free from Partido Popular’s connection to a strong Spanish nation state, but still have to prove what they mean by working for 'language equality'. Among the Catalans I meet, the party only comes across as opposed to the strong official role of Catalan and not as a force with a constructive message.
We still have some weeks to go before the elections. In the meantime, I hope that one of the other main parties will manage to win my vote. A bike road to Sitges would be a nice thing, but I would prefer to make my final decision thinking about our town as a whole rather than only about pleasure.