coups and not coups

Contrived Political Theater in Spain.

Wearing a top hat and surrounded by supporters mostly dressed in outlandish military uniforms, Vicente Candela stormed the town hall here briefly last month and proclaimed himself mayor of Ibi’s 24,000 residents.

It was, Mr. Candela said, “a coup d’état with humoristic violence,” over in about eight hours. He then handed power back to Ibi’s official mayor, while street cleaners removed the debris of a pitched battle between Mr. Candela’s rebels and his opponents, during which they pelted each other with flour and rotten eggs, amid the deafening noise of firecrackers.

This day of playful, ritualistic political upheaval is held in Ibi every Dec. 28, and traces its origins back as far as the role reversal in the Roman Empire’s festival of Saturnalia, when masters provided table service for their servants, according to José Vicente Verdú, a lawyer who has researched Ibi’s history.

But in modern Spain, the satire has been imbued with outsize significance as scores of corruption scandals have forced the ouster of several mayors and helped plunge support for Spain’s mainstream parties to record lows.

Wear funny hats and take over for a day to “release steam”.

Then again… Not funny hats (totally conducive to the culture of the country) and not “release steam”…

US prosecutors have charged two men with conspiring to overthrow the government of Gambia, in the latest fallout from last week’s failed coup attempt in the small West African nation.

One of these days, that mock coup celebration will take hold for real, the beleagured leaders just deciding “Screw it”, and letting the guys in funny hats and egg yolks have it all.  Then what the rabble do?

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