At around 10 pm tonight (Spanish time) millions of viewers are expected to tune in to a debate of presidential candidates, and we’re not talking about Clinton, Obama, McCain, Huckabee, or even newcomer Nader. Gearing up for Spain’s presidential elections on March 9, incumbent Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and conservative Popular Party opponent Mariano Rajoy will face off in the first of two televised debates, the following to take place next Monday. Issues tonight will probably center around the slowing economy, terrorism flaming up recently with more ETA attacks and some other topics such as pension funds, marriage and divorce rights, and the environment. This is only the second time Spain has held televised debates since it was established as a democracy, the last time 15 years ago.
Although it has become the norm for Internet interaction in the American election process, it’s only starting to become common in Spain. The Antena 3 Media Group has created a special election portal on YouTube where users can post video questions. However, of the questions posed so far candidates have only answered a select few, steering clear of fringe issues and controversy. It remains to be seen whether they will indeed respond to any during the televised debates, to be carried by a number of major channels including La 1, La 2, Cuatro, laSexta and VEO.