The International Writers Magazine: Spanish Politics
Spain on the Edge
What will stop the break-up of Spain?
A summary of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution is as follows:
1. If an autonomous state does not comply by the Constitution or abides by the laws or acts in any way that seriously jeopardizes the general interests of the State, the Government, with the majority approval of the Senate can adopt certain measures to forcefully oblige the enforcement of said requirements.
In a recent public press interview, the President, Sr. Mariano Rajoy has categorically stated that should Catalonia’s regional government – still to be decided who is in charge - through the Catalan Parliament unilaterally declares the intention to proceed towards an independent state within the next 18 months, he will apply the law – this article – as far as is necessary.
What this means in a nutshell is that Spain is facing a ‘coup-de-tat’ from one of its 17 states that has occurred only once since democracy when a Lieutenant Colonel of the Civil Guards stormed into the Spanish Parliament on the 23 of February, 1982. The government will try all political means to squash this move but, according to the law it could physically intervene through the use of force, annul the Catalan government, and take over the region.
Sr. Rajoy has had emergency meetings with the leader of the main opposition party, Sr. Pedro Sanchez of the socialist PSOE, as well as the leader of the up and coming center party Ciudadans (Citizens) Sr. Albert Rivera and all have agreed to unite in an effort to maintain the integrity of Spain. The 4th opposition contender, ‘Podemos’ (We Can), was not consulted. On top of this political move, King Felipe VI, during his speech at the annual celebration of the Prince of Asturias prize giving ceremony – similar to the Nobel Prize – in a diplomatic way, without mentioning the region, strongly condemned the independence movement and emphasized the need to maintain the unity of the country.
So, in the meantime, what was going on in Catalonia
Artur Mas, the Catalan politician that started all this rumpus, is still the acting president although his days may be numbered. Meanwhile new corruption scandals have emerged that are being investigated under a police operation called ‘Petrum’. They are investigating a 30-year-old scam whereby, the then Catalan government under ‘Convergencia Democratica de Cataluña’ under its president, Sr. Jodi Pujol that had ruled from 1980 to 2003 were creaming off a 3% commission on all regional government public projects.
Apparently, the ex-president Jodi Pujol and (in a seperate case) all the Pujol family have allegedly been laundering public money for years including suitcase loads of 500 Euro bills. First was Andorra, then Switzerland and the latest is the tax haven of Belize. The amount that has come to light is huge, 900 Million Euros. Thousands of files, CD's and computer hard disk are being screened by the Civil Guards. A large and hefty amount of money!
This is all going on at moment, so, with massive corruption scandals, unable to form a government and the move towards independence all we can say at this stage is that, once again Catalonia is in a state of chaos.
Despite this situation, political life carried go on.
On the 26th of the month, King Felipe VI signed the document that dissolved the Spanish Parliament and announced that Spanish general elections would take place on the 20th of December. The campaign has now begun and all politicians are on the road drumming up support. Sr. Mariano Rajoy has stated that he will once again stand for re-election and has the wholehearted approval from all his government. The main issue in his parting speech was emphasizing the importance of the macro-economic recovery as approved by most international financial institutions and the need to continue with the second phase that would include further job creation and a reduction in the unemployment rate. He apologized for mistakes as well as the corruption that has hurt his party. However, towards the end of his speech he blasted away at the left-wing programs that were being presented by the main contenders and that it would be a return to the past.
Many minor events have taken place throughout the month but are of minor importance compared to the main issue: Catalonia. If some sort of a solution is obtained to dissolve the independence move, the fires will die down. At this stage: ‘I doubt it’.
Extra: Sr. Rajoy has had an interview with Pablo Iglesias (Podemos - 'We Can') and the 'enfant terrible' showed his real colours saying that Catalonia was a 'Nation', that a referendum would solve the problem and that Rajoy (Ha Ha) was to blame for everything. The President intends to meet with the rest of the parliamentary representatives (all the other left wing and nationalists that have MP's) next week. My opinion is that Rajoy's move is spot on and might even swing the elections in his favour. It's fun and games from here to the end of the year. Meanwhile the Civil Guards in Galicia have raided dozens of homes and arrested a similar number of possible terrorists, most in my home town of Vigo. Not Jihad but those belonging to the local Galician equivalent of ETA.
More on corruption and crazy European spending:
I've seen with, my own eyes, right in my home patch the millions of Euro thrown at stupid projects. Just one example, 200 million euro's for Vigo's high speed train STATION! We're only 300000 inhabitants. We have two stations. One for regular runs and the other for around 10 HS per day! They're far apart by the way and you have to catch a taxi to go from one to the other. Not only that. The general bus station (that serves all the small towns around the city) is also 'miles away' and requires a taxi. Not to mention the airport which is also on another planet. Talk about bad long term planning and a great deal paid out of EU funds over the past 25 years
See you next month.
© James Skinner. November 2015
The Ace Card - Catalonia
Elections have taken place in the autonomous region of Catalonia, the votes have been counted and the end result is a political mess.