Sex and violence drive political ads in Spain

The World's Gerry Hadden reports from Barcelona in the Catalan region of Spain, where voters go to the polls on Sunday.While the dominant issue is the economy, campaign ads that use sex and violence are getting all the attention.

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Catalan campaign ads don't strike the same ominous tones we often hear in American TV spots. You know, the sombre music followed by the personal attacks. Candidate X is soft on terrorism, Candidate Y condones mass murder.

No, in Catalonia, things are more upbeat. At least in the governing socialist camp, too upbeat you might say.
In a recent TV spot, which has since pulled, you see an attractive young woman going to vote Socialist. She's excited. Really excited! And perhaps not surprisingly, this ad was put together by the Socialist Party's Youth Wing. When it was roundly criticized by politicians of all stripes, elder socialist statesmen huffed and denied knowledge. The ad came across as especially frivolous because of Spain's limping economy.

Growth is flat, unemployment remains at more than 20% and it keeps costing the government more to borrow money. With Ireland now getting a bail-out, a lot of people in Spain are afraid their country might stumble too.

Spain's conservative Popular Party tries to get mileage out of tying the economic downturn to illegal immigration. The party's candidate for Catalonia supports a crackdown on undocumented workers. Last week her campaign strategists sought to cast her as a heroine in a video game. It quickly made the evening news because it shows Alicia Sanchez-Camacho flying through the air on the back of a seagull, shooting down, among other things, illegal immigrants dangling from parachutes.

You can imagine the backlash from that one. Fierce is an apt description.

The video has since been pulled; Sanchez-Camacho did the mea culpas. On TV, she blamed the offense on the company that made the video. Conspicuously absent on both sides of this campaign are good ideas for how to turn the economy around. For many, that explains this fall back on violence and sex.