The Trouble with present day Spain is that there is not enough politics.
That statement may appear on the surface to be a little strange. We are governed by one of the most corrupt political parties in Western Europe; the number of officials, associates, patrons and general moneyed riff-raff connected to PP that have been, are being or are going to be tried is astonishing. The Prime Minister has just given evidence in a corruption scandal involving the finance of his party (in which all previous treasurers have been indicted); a previous PP associate and head of a bankrupt bank has just committed suicide; a previous head of the PP government of Valencia has died before she could be investigated thoroughly - well, you get the idea. Each day brings new scandals and precisely nothing of moment is done about them.
The present government is a minority one. We have over the past couple of years plodded our weary way through a few elections where the left has thrown away its advantage and allowed the corrupt PP with the help of the sluttish C’s and the abstention of the so-called socialist party PSOE to form a government which has done precisely nothing to remedy the corruption which is rife in the system - how can they when they are precisely the ones who would suffer if anything substantial could be done.
A clear example of the compromised system that we have is clearly illustrated by the Prime Minister giving his evidence. He was dragged into the Gürtel Case
(you can find out more about this astonishing case here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%BCrtel_case ) much against the wishes of the governing party as you can imagine. However, the Prime Minister did agree to give evidence, but we soon discovered that he was not going to give evidence in quite the same way as other witnesses.
You have to imagine the scene: the body of the courtroom in front of the judges is taken up with seats for the accused and a section for the press. As there are so many accused they leave no room for virtually anyone else. Each witness sits at a little desk with a microphone, directly in front of the judges. Behind them are the motley faces of those thieves accused of stealing over a billion euros from the public purse, and of illegally financing PP and its various elections. They make a gruesome backdrop of grafters, most of whom are personally known to the Prime Minister. It does not however make a particularly Prime Ministerial setting (though one that I think is totally accurate for the debased reputation of our glorious leader) and there is also an aspect of guilt by association (!) in such a setting.
So, Rajoy did not come openly to court. He arrived as part of a cavalcade in a car with tinted windows and entered the court via the judges’ entrance that gave him direct access without having to confront the protesters who had been waiting for this moment to hurl accusations against him.
Inside the court, things were different for him. There were no accused in the massed seats in court. They were all empty. He was not asked to take the place where all other witnesses gave their evidence. Instead he was given a little desk in line with the seating of the three judges! His background was empty of any bad associates with whom his party has done ‘business’ for years. Talk about a set up.
But because of the lack of real politics in Spain, the ruling PP is able to get away with things like this. It is essential to stress that although PP has the largest party in parliament, it does not have an overall majority. It can be voted down. It should, in my view, be voted down. But, politics does not seem to extend any further for most political parties than their own party concerns. The idea that they have been elected by actual people to serve the country in parliament seems more like a joke in poor taste than a crushing accusation.
Politics in the art of the possible, and I know that there always have to be unsavoury compromises to get things done. But in Spain at the moment, there is a lot of frenetic activity and lots and lots of high words and angry exchanges but still, THINGS DO NOT GET DONE. That is an accusation that lies squarely at the feet of the politicians who seem unable to do politics.
I know that the election of 45 as POTUS shows that no matter how appalling your behaviour and outrageous your statements and low your morals, you can be elected to high position. Brexit has shown that completely unscrupulous scaremongering and out and out lies can get you cabinet positions and the love and care of the gutter press. Truth, morality, honesty, and ethics - all seem to be olde-worlde relics of a yesteryear that didn’t exist. I know that a world of ‘alternative facts’ makes for dizzying reassessment of what is possible, but still, politics is supposed to take account of ‘events, dear boy, events’ and those include ways of thinking and ways of behaving.
Although it is glaringly clear to me that our government is irremediably corrupt and is totally unable and unwilling to reform itself and must therefore be removed, I am also aware that something like 30% of the voting population would be prepared to vote for PP if an election was called tomorrow! It is difficult to imagine a worse few years of unrelentingly bad publicity for PP as the ones that I have watched. Secret accounts, kick-backs, black money, illegal funding of buildings, campaigns, accounts in tax havens, lies, duplicity, sedition, collusion - you name it, and somewhere in PP you can find it! And 30% will still vote for them!
The right wing C’s party (the political sluts of Spanish politics) generally supports PP, while making pathetic mewling noises about how independent they are and what they are achieving for the country! They complicate things. In my view a vote for the C’s is a vote for PP, and generally speaking they vote with them. Their cowardly approach is to ask for commissions of investigation rather than vote against the government and bring it down.
PSOE (the so-called socialist party) has undergone its own self immolation with a widely divisive leadership election where the previous leader who lost a lot of seats in a previous election resigned, and then found a certain amount of backbone and suddenly appeared as a candidate for the new leadership which he, amazingly won. However, they are far more concerned with abstention rather than voting against the government because they have a very real fear about what might happen in any general election that they force!
I think our present situation could have been avoided a couple of three elections ago by parties working together, but ineptitude, political ineptitude made that impossible and so we have had years of the same corrupt government that daily has to become even more corrupt to keep itself in power.
I also know that there is nothing to be gained by saying ‘if we had’ in politics because, that verb tense shows that the past is gone. We have to deal in the present and, in my view, the political parties, especially on the left, are not doing enough to provide the country with a viable alternative to what we already have.
To say nothing of what is happening here in Catalonia.
In October we will have a referendum about independence. Our government has said that if there is a majority for independence (no matter how many people vote) then the government of Catalonia will start the process of disengaging with Spain within 48 hours of the vote.
The Spanish government has declared the vote illegal. A previous vote (overwhelmingly in favour of independence) saw the President of Catalonia charged and convicted in a court of law for holding a democratic election. He has been barred from public office and has been fined. PP has said that it will do everything that it can to stop the vote. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal and the Catalan government has responded by saying that they will disregard the rulings, which prohibit the vote.
Again, I ask, where are the politics? Where was the renegotiation of the relationship between the Spanish central government and the region of Catalonia? Where were the mollifying words about rethinking the relationship of the two entities? Where was the suggestion that a referendum could be held some time in the future after a process of rethinking the present positions? Nowhere is the answer. PP went straight for denial and rejection. Everything the Madrid PP government does makes new independentists each day.
In my heart I would like to see a Spain united and strong, with an association of regions with a dynamic relationship with central government. But PP has in the past and seems bent in the future of being absolutist and obstructionist. They seem to be actively seeking confrontation - to do what? Send in the tanks? Disenfranchise the whole of the Catalan government? Impose direct rule?
Spain, and more particularly Catalonia, is my home. I am concerned about how this country within a country sees its future. My status is already under real threat from the idiocy that is Brexit, my position could become even more problematical after the October vote - or before, depending on how far and how stupidly a myopic central government feels that it can act.
So where, to come back to my starting point, are Politics? And why aren’t they being used for what they should be used for: to provide a government of the people, for the people, by the people.
Are the politicians listening?