Voters in Spain went to cast their votes yesterday for the third time in four years, as the centre-left PSOE sought to gain sufficient seats to allow them to govern more effectively. Other factors were thought to be the vulnerability of the centre-right People’s Party, and the possibility of far-right Vox winning seats in the national Parliament for the first time.
Plaza de Cibeles, Madrid
Arc de Triomf, Barcelona
Later, the Guardian declared “Socialist PSOE wins general election. With more than 99% of votes counted, the socialist party, PSOE, has won Spain’s 2019 general election and looks set to enter negotiations with Podemos to form a leftwing coalition government with prime minister Pedro Sánchez as leader. PSOE won 123 of the 350 seats in parliament”.
But over at the BBC, the framing of the result on last night’s main news bulletin dismayed many. Amy, who lives in Barcelona, was not happy: “BBC news coverage of the Spanish election: 5 mins gleefully talking about Vox and the rise of the far right, interview with Vox. No mention of the massive gains by the left, no interviews with anyone from the four parties who won far more seats”. Nor was Hispanophile Paul Bower: “To listen to the BBC you would think Vox won the Spanish elections. They got 10%. The centre left PSOE got 29% snd the radical left Podemos got 14%”. They were not alone.
“After last night's BBC News bulletin I had to check the result of the Spanish general election, as the emphasis was on how well the fascists had done. The far right Vox party came 5th out of 5, winning half the number of seats they were expected to win” … “@BBCNews Spanish elections … ’Socialists failed' says the BBC … Then a long piece on VOX 'success' quoting its leaders fascist rhetoric” were typical.
Some added a British parallel: “Why is BBC NEWS so keen to distort the truth about the Spanish election in which social democracy was shown to be alive and thriving? Why is BBC infatuated with hard right extremists such as Vox and the Brexit party?” Radio 4 did it too: “Radio 4, they were arguing with an expert on Spanish politics who said that Vox were just disaffected conservatives and hadn’t made much of a difference. ‘But it is different, because they are doing all this stuff...’ would be a good summary of BBC response”.
This lack of enthusiasm at the line taken continued: “I appreciate Vox is the biggest gainer in the Spanish elections, but given they still came 5th I'm not convinced it was appropriate for the BBC to mention almost nothing else during the lengthy segment on the News at 10 covering the election” … “BBC news on #Spain last night, concerned that Vox voters won't get what they voted for. How dreadful! No mention that Socialists came out on top. Who is running the #BBC these days?” Perhaps that should be “Who sets the Line To Take?”
Kevin Dunn noticed that. “Note the language on #BBCNews about the #Spain election: a far-right ‘breakthrough’, ‘surge’, ‘resurgence’. But #Vox actually got less share of the vote than UKIP did in the 2015 UK general election. Who is constructing the #BBC's narrative?” And Sunder Katwala summed it up: “BBC main TV news - opens on Vox winning seats - then correspondent says we can't say far right is the story, as they came 5th - then a report mainly about Vox, Franco & bull-fighting - brief passing mention of the result being left winning ‘leaving many alienated & resentful’”. Oh dear, BBC!
Perhaps we should brace ourselves for the alternative version when Portugal - another potential centre-left gain - goes to the polls later this year. This is not good enough.
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