Monday, August 23, 2010


The Spanish minister for health is Trinidad Jiménez. She comes from Velez-Málaga in Málaga province and being of Andalucía she speaks with an Andaluz accent - a Spanish very different from that spoken in the nation's capital. As she has risen to be a senior minister in the socialist government her place of birth and the way she speaks has not held her back.

The problem for Trinidad is she wants to be the socialist candidate for the Comunidad de Madrid, the autonomous regional assembly that governs the national capital and its surrounding area.

Hence political hardball comes in to play and many are now shouting foul at Juan Soler, a centre-right Partido Popular MP in that Madrid assembly. He recently pointed out that the accent of Jiménez was “Malagueña” and questioned why she wasn’t standing in Dos Hermanas or Velez-Málaga instead of Madrid, an area her voice betrayed she was clearly not from.

A stung minister blasted Soler for having “contempt” for those who come from outside of Madrid. She added that his views were at odds with Madrid itself which is a cosmopolitan, welcoming, open city with people of all sorts of identities living there. She also observed that the region was made up of 13 per cent immigrants, five points higher than the rest of Spain.

Soler is a respected politician but made his comments in his blog and also called the minister “esa chica” – “that girl”.

This of course has put the Partido Popular politicians in Andalucía on the spot. They are all proudly Andaluz and speak with the accent of the region - an accent they share with Jiménez. So they have to speak in defence of the socialist minister and of Andalucía yet at the same time support the PP MP.

Of course we have been here before and will no doubt be back in the future. Click on the link below for my blog in January 2009 this time featuring another female socialist minister Magdalena Álvarez, who at the time was the minister of public works.

1 comment:

Alberto Bullrich said...

There is no mention of class distinction/difference/prejudice in this otherwise excellent article, Sancho.

This, as in Britain, is clearly revealed when considering that many members of the PP consider themselves (and are certainly considered by others) as 'pijos', a word defined by the Real Academia as a colloquialism that is "said of a person who in manner, dress, language, etc. manifests the tastes of a 'comfortable' class." (Another definition is 'virile member' but that's another matter.)

As in Britain, what used to be called the Queen's English and is now subject to too many euphemisms, in Spain the King's Spanish reflects a social class.

As in Britain, and no matter how well regional accents are accepted, in Spain the 'proper' Castilian accent is considered to be further up the social scale than Andaluz. Call it Madrid-centric if you like, but it is still prejudice.

Andalucía has been subjected to class prejudice for centuries, more recently -the 1960s and 70s- perhaps because so many people of the region were forced to emigrate to the North (Barcelona, mainly) to find jobs.