The Spanish people will go to the polls on this date, and it is to be fervently hoped, for the sake of fairness, that this year young people of 18 – 21 years will use their vote. In 2008 citizens of that age mostly did not vote, for the usual reasons: “I can’t be bothered,” “I don’t like politics or politicians,” “I don’t like any of the major parties.” Etcetera. It is also to be hoped that the middle classes in Spain, who in the end have to bear the weight of politicians’ bad decisions, will also rouse themselves from torpor and go to the polls.
One of Spain’s major problems is that the government that has ‘ruled’ since victory in 2004, is not about to be excised because it is Stalinist/Leninist in outlook, violently anti-Church, involved in conspiracies with Catalans or Basques which can only hurt Spain, or simply evil. Nothing is as easy as that. The reason why the PSOE might possibly be voted out of power, and indeed existence, is that since 2004 it has been inept. Not only inept, but awkward, bumbling, bungling, clumsy, inexpert and unworkmanlike; it has also been contentious, inapt, inappropriate, out of place, frequently ridiculous, often absurd, pointless and finally unsuitable. The very last thing it has not been is truly Socialist.
Secretary-General Rodríguez Zapatero started the awful process by allowing an over-dressed woman called Fernández de la Vega to organise the first of countless photo opportunities which starred the eight females in a cabinet of sixteen, each one a proper socialist, each one draped in thousands of euros-worth of fashionable clothes. This photograph was to set the scene for a frivolous and mostly ridiculous future. The shoemaker permitted it.
Later he started weeding out the older members of the brigade, with special emphasis on those who might prove a threat. Antique socialist barons were weeded out and removed from any power (or powers of decision-making) they might have had. These were the socialists who had recently wrested power from the Right, formed governments with Felipe González, stuck with the party through thick and thin, even gone to prison for it. The shoemaker filled his new cabinet with inexperienced party radicals, most of them under-educated, some clever but (for the moment) subdued, some who had never left Spain’s frontiers, some whose only labour since leaving school had been within the party’s organisation. This Spain saw, but did not care a jot. At least, they thought, the government was not right-wing. But where exactly has it finally stood?
Following the example of their leader, a miserable and insincere man incapable of uttering the truth under any circumstances, the PSOE concentrated from Day One in 2004 on a novel way of governing, unseen in any other democracy in Europe: it consisted in offending, insulting, and attempting to shut up any kind of opposition, in Congress, Senate, Community or Town Hall. This was to be the approved system of governance from 2004 until now – and it continues in each speech made by preternaturally pompous characters like José Blanco, known by some as ‘Pepiño’, for reasons that are obvious. He is the prototype for the kind of man who when young at school would have supported the classroom bully, and sneaked on his schoolmates for money or kudos. An observant examination of this man’s face tells the whole story.
The shoemaker became known in Europe as the man who appointed a woman with no educational qualifications at all to be Minister of Health. Not satisfied with this he appointed a young Catalan woman whose only interest is Catalan independence, to be Spain’s Minister of Defence, though she does not know the difference between a hand grenade and a handful of dust. If required to, Carme Chacon would probably salute with the left hand and without a hat. She believes that a ‘Division’ has something to do with mathematics, and that strategics is a form of fitness control. The shoemaker also appointed a woman called Sinde to be in charge of handouts to otherwise out-of-work film actors and directors, to enable them to appear at film festivals improperly and expensively dressed, and combine in the studio to make pornographic movies under the umbrella of Fine Art. But the shoemaker’s crowning achievement was to appoint the Bad-hatter, his own deadly rival to be Minister of the Interior – a useful position from which Mr Rubalcaba could direct his malicious intentions towards his own country in his usual adroit manner.
Recently, Zapatero has been elbowed aside by the Rubalcaba/Leninist faction, to the extent of remaining President of the Government and Secretary-General of the party, but only being summoned by Rubalcaba to make tearful and sympathetic speeches about the Victims of ETA – not that he has ever had anything but distaste for them before. Zapatero has become Rubalcaba’s Trotsky. Perhaps the Bad-hatter, in his other favourite role as Stalin, will be wielding the ice axe before very long.
Maybe the Popular Party will be able to do something about Spain. It might not be too late. But there are sinister stirrings of a palace revolution within the PP as well. Rajoy is probably too decent a man to be in politics. He has a beard but not teeth. There are others, pretending to be loyal, who possess the teeth, even if (appropriately enough in a lady) they have no beard.
Spain’s essential tea-party takes place on November 20. One prays that it will be well attended.