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••• The International Writers Magazine: From Our Spanish Correspondent

Promises - Promises
• James Skinner
Everyone wants something from Sr. Pedro Sanchez - how will he keep all those promises to regional leaders - how can he afford them?

Sanchez P

In last month’s essay I concluded that our socialist leader of the new government was a charmer, out to please all parties with an open system of ‘dialogue and consensus’ with all concerned as per his ever ending slogan repeated in all his speeches prior to taking office. A sort of Mr. Nice. Well, most of the plethora of political parties that voted him into power through the ‘vote of no confidence’ method that ousted the conservatives (PP) and sent the previous president Sr. Mariano Rajoy to ‘Coventry’ are now, one by one at his doorstep demanding their piece of the pie. So, we have reverted to the second phase that goes from charm to that of promise.

Although it is probably the most important problem that the Spanish government faces at the moment, I will leave the Catalan situation out of this month’s report. The saga is too intense and ongoing that would need a completely separate report.

Sr. Pedro Sanchez, the socialist (PSOE) president is smiling, promising most, whilst taking notes. No need to go into details because the shopping list from different regions of the country, remember there are 17 autonomies, are not only huge, but similar to that of the children at Christmas time facing Santa Claus in a shopping mall. He has met with the presidents of the regions and most have gone away with a promise of a more efficient distribution - read possible 'increase' - in state handouts.  

Meanwhile the government has been busy implementing new decrees on issues that were reported last month such as removing religion (i.e. Catholic) as a school subject and substituting it for a ‘socialist citizens guide’ based on basic human rights and equality’ as well as the removal of Generalissimo Franco’s remains from his present resting place at ‘The Valley of the fallen’. However, there are areas that are stuck in the mud such as the famous ‘budget deficit ceiling’ imposed by the European Union that is already running at 100% GDP. The government has two alternatives. To cut public spending or increase taxes and it has chosen the latter to the tune of 6000 million Euros aimed mainly at an increase in social services. No need to go into the response from the general private sector. Apart from other detailed changes the Spanish Parliament will shut for the summer similar to others in Europe and will return in September to face the music.

Rajoy So what about the other side of the fence? The beaten and downtrodden conservative party (PP) and in particular its exiting leader, Sr. Mariano Rajoy?

There has been much soul searching on behalf of the party leaders and militants as to their future now that they are members of the parliamentary opposition. Many feel in a similar sort of way as ex-president George Bush’s statement after the Iraq invasion – ‘Mission accomplished!’ – that he will go down in history as having stopped the economic rot of the previous socialist government of Sr. Rodriguez Zapatero. This is backed up by the statistics of the drop in unemployment figures as well as the increase in Social Security payments. Part of this recovery is due to a bumper year in tourism, but the effect is seen in overall public spending. However, Sr. Rajoy’s government did not comply with other promises that were to revoke the Zapatero laws of ‘Historic Memory’ that lead to a real witchhunt of remembrance of the dictatorship and review of the abortion law that was one of the most liberal in the modern world. But the most significant response to the failure was from Sr. Rajoy.

He more or less handed in the ‘keys’ of the party and, metaphorically speaking, ‘went fishing’. Enter the gladiator’s arena as the fight began for a replacement candidate.

The big question was whether to elect a candidate that would continue with the so called ‘Marianismo’ (Rajoy’s management style) or vote for a complete change of direction. It turned into quite a slinging match that had to be presented to the party members and a latter group of commissioners after two sets of votes. Meanwhile, socialists and the rest of the other Spanish political parties carried out their own betting system with all kinds of rumors and opinions that ended up with the obvious question: Will the conservatives continue as they have been, i.e., a center right party or will they open up a new ‘far right’ program as a future government proposal?

Note: The PP was never an extreme right wing party similar to others in Europe. However, the left wing media, especially the most radical have always considered them as a continuation of the Franco regime which is total nonsense.

In the meantime, Ciudadanos (the every-which-way party) lead by Sr. Albert Ribera has lost brownie points and true to this definition is in a sort of impasse as to what side of the political spectrum he needs his party to move, depending on the future outcome of the conservative leadership. Didn’t take long for the final result to emerge and answer all the unanswered questions.

The conservative party (PP) now has a new President, Sr. Pablo Casado, 37 years old, lawyer, married, family man with deep routed liberal capitalist values reminiscent of the days of founding member Don Manuel Fraga (RIP). He has rid the party of many of the ‘old’ hands, surrounded himself of younger, many unknown, supporters of his views, all ready to face the music in autumn when everyone is back from the holiday break.
Casado P

I’ll leave it there as a resume. His full curriculum at this stage is irrelevant. Suffice to say that he is clean, as well as his new team, of any corruption blemishes that have haunted the party for the past 20 years brought about by the Barcenas case, but that is another story.

The above is a synopsis of the political situation as it stands today. Meanwhile, back at the ranch other events have taken place.

  1. Abdicated King Juan Carlos, now an ordinary citizen is in the limelight because of his supposed strange relationship with a German high flying female aristocrat, Corinna zu-Sayn-Wittgenstein. Back in 2006 she organized African safaris for the monarch and other events, but has recently hit the tabloid headlines as she has stated in public that he holds secret bank accounts in Switzerland. Is this the beginning of a new scandal of the Spanish monarchy?
  2. A taxi strike has erupted in Barcelona because of the so called illegal competition from Uber and Cabify customer tailored alternative transport. The strike, together with that of Ryanair’s, is causing havoc with summer holiday makers both national and international. The strike threatens to go nationwide.
  3. Spain has now taken over from Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta as the number one ‘port of call’ for refugees and emigrants from North Africa. Rumpus in the provinces of Ceuta have caused injuries and outcry by the Police and Civil Guards warning that the situation is getting out of hand. This saga is about to explode that could cause yet another disaster for the European Union in terms of uncontrolled emigration.

Finally, back to our new and flamboyant socialist president, Sr. Pedro Sanchez. Apparently he is a fan of the US rock band ‘The Killers’. On Saturday the 21st of last month they held a concert at the rock festival in Benicássim in the province of Castellon, Valencia. Sr Sanchez organized an official ‘quick’ meeting with the president of the region and a slightly longer one with the mayor of the city. All in the afternoon. Ah! Not only did he stay on for the concert in the evening that he ordered the official presidential airplane to come and pick him up later on in the evening. This event caused a national rumpus of irresponsible use of government transport let alone taxpayer’s money. Cost: Euro 15,000. To add insult to injury his new vice-president, Sra. Carmen Calvo said, in his defense, that he was attending a cultural function in name of the government.

Social media went berserk but, like all other tabloid press it is now past history.

See you next month.
© James Skinner August 1st 2018

Pedro Sanchez
The Charmer
James Skinner
Tax and Spend returns to Spain - PM Sanchez is now Mr. ‘Nice Guy’ ready to talk to everyone, full of positive good will and painting a rosy picture of a real ‘change’ in Spanish politics

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