Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy received some direct feedback during a pre-election campaign event in the northern city of Pontevedra yesterday (Dec. 16): a painful-looking punch in the face.
TV footage shows a teenager, who first appears to be politely listening to the prime minister, suddenly delivering a blow to the side of the face of the unsuspecting Rajoy, knocking off his glasses.
Although he later appeared to have a red mark on his face, a spokesman said Rajoy was unhurt, and the prime minister assured voters that he was fine on Twitter, with a video of himself on a treadmill, and a caption that reads “we are moving ahead.”
The teen was arrested, but officials said Rajoy was unlikely to press a criminal complaint. “This event is not going to stop me doing a street-level campaign,” the prime minister told Spanish TV. “I am still with the people.” Spain is holding parliamentary elections on Dec. 20.
The 17-year-old puncher may not be old enough to vote, but that clearly didn’t stop him from expressing dissatisfaction with Rajoy. Nearly one in two young Spaniards is out of work, the highest rate in the European Union, while social inequality is deepening. The prime minister’s People’s Party has also been hit recently by a political corruption scandal and increasingly testy relations with the separatist-minded government of the region of Catalonia.
Rajoy is one of the country’s least popular leaders, and yet his party is still expected to win the election. However, the party’s grip on power appears to be loosening, and it likely won’t retain the majority it has held since 2011, making the upcoming election the most unpredictable in decades.