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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Political comment

I'm finding that I'm shouting at the telly and the radio more often recently. The politicians are talking more nonsense than usual but, more than that, one of them seems to have simply decided that none of it is really anything to do with him.

We don't have a proper government at the moment but we do have a Caretaker Government,  a Gobierno en funciones, run by the Partido Popular. Mariano Rajoy is the less than charismatic leader of the PP and Caretaker President. He's one of those blokes who appears to have almost no political personality. From time to time the news programmes show him out for a bit of exercise and he just looks wrong in badly co-ordinated sports clothes. If he abandons his suit for a jacket and trousers the jacket is too blue and the trousers too black. When he doesn't wear a tie he reminds me of that picture of John Major meeting the troops and wearing a ribbed pullover to ride around in a tank - completely out of his element. But to be fair, when I saw Mariano interviewed on a "come over to my house and let's cook something" type interview show he seemed a perfectly likeable bloke

In the UK the Speaker of the House of Commons is a party politician but, once they become Speaker, they try to be impartial. There is a similar position in the parliament here and Ana Pastor, from the same party as Rajoy, is currently the Presidenta del Congreso de los Dipuatdos. In the last, very short lived parliament, the equivalent position was taken by a bloke called Patxi López from the other side, the PSOE. When the Government has to explain itself before the MPs or diputados, it's the Presidente del Congreso who arranges the debate. Patxi tried, in the face of objections from the PP, to organise the debate when MPs wanted a Government response but when Ana should have done the same thing she prevaricated. There were mumblings about her lack of impartiality. The thing they wanted to talk about was an ex PP Minister, who had resigned, because he was suspected of having dodgy Panamanian bank accounts, taking up a position with the World Bank with obvious backing from the Caretaker Government. Mariano Rajoy said about that one that it was nothing to do with him. If Soria (the politician was called José Manuel Soria) wanted to apply for a "civil service" type job that was his right, completely up to him. I can see why Soria was interested though with a pay rate of 620€ per day. Rajoy had nothing to say about the impartiality of the Presidenta.

The ex Mayor of Valencia is a woman called Rita Barberá. She is one of hundreds, nay thousands, of PP politicians accused of corruption. In her case it's to do with illegal funding of her party. There are plenty of other politicians from the other parties being investigated for corruption but the majority stakeholders are definitely the PP. Even the party itself is caught up in a case for dodgy funding of a rebuilding programme at party HQ. But back to Rita; one of those larger than life characters that politics throws up from time to time. When she was defeated in the local elections to be mayor of Valencia her party popped her into the Upper House, the Senate. 

Spanish politicians have a sort of political immunity. They can't be tried by lower courts, just the Supreme Court, so that getting a prominent politician into the dock is a lengthy process. Rita resigned from the PP a couple of days ago but she is refusing to give up her seat in the Senate to maintain that protection.

As you may imagine the press wants to know what her (ex) party and particularly the Caretaker President have to say about the case. For days Mariano said nothing at all. He just kept quiet. This is one of his favourite tactics. Say nothing, see how things are going, maybe it will all go away. When he did speak his answer was that as Rita was no longer in the party he had no authority over her and it was absolutely nothing to do with him. Silly me, I thought that a President might have something to say about political corruption especially when the case is about illegal funding within his own party. I must be mistaken

Rajoy is a master of inaction but, to be honest, none of the leading politicians seem to be up to making a decision at the moment. We have a four way split. The centre left can't talk to the hard left because one is for talking with the Catalans about self determination. The party that doesn't seem able to decide whether it is left or right leaning has thrown its votes in with the PP this time though last time they did a deal with the Socialists. In return for their votes they demanded several concessions. One of the biggest was that the PP stomped on corruption. They haven't had a lot to say about Rita's shenanigans. The smaller regional parties can't join with either of the big parties again because of the stuff about Catalan independence. One of the two, apparently, workable options is that the centre left just abstains and so lets Rajoy back in. They have said no several times though. They say they can't stomach another Government headed by Rajoy. The other option is that Rajoy goes, that someone else takes over but his side are staying loyal at the moment.

I should mention that the PSOE, the biggest left leaning party, has a big corruption case going on at the moment too. That one involves two former Presidents of the Region of Andalucía. Those two did resign their political office and they are in court and fighting their corner. I don't remember feeling the need to shout at the radio when that story first broke.

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