13.45 Today in Madrid the showdown has begun. The euphoria that Spaniards experienced last September – cheering and sending columns of Guardia Civil and Policia Nacional along the autovias of Spain to put down the Catalan nationalists – has now turned once again to cynicism and confusion.
This blog post is not polemical and has one simple purpose: to try and summarise the issues as best I can for an audience of people who read this blog for the donkey anecdotes and also the occasional personal view of a wider contemporary Spain.
Some Brits in Finestrat and other parts of the Costa Blanca might even be grateful to learn there IS a political crisis… It hasn’t really entered their discourse. But alongside Brexit (as yet another thing we daren’t talk about?) the political crisis affects us all.
The Presidente del Gobierno (Prime Minister) Mariano Rajoy is today and tomorrow at the centre of a confidence motion from the opposition PSOE socialists to unseat him and bring the Partido Popular government to an end.
This is a live rolling blogpost today and I will update it regularly. There will be background and updates on developments.
14.00 What do I mean by the turning point? Since the end of the Franco period – which had already sown the seeds of institutional corruption – Spain’s great achievement of catching up with the rest of developed democratic Europe has been marred by successive corruption scandals affecting the bipartite socialist and conservative establishment.
None of the corruption scandals over the past forty years ever resulted in a government being put to a successful vote of no confidence. This may happen tomorrow and the debate is already underway in parliament. Why? Because the Mother of all Corruption Scandals, the “Gürtel affair”, which has been dragging on through the courts all the years I have been living and working here since 2010, finished last week with a damning verdict on the institutional corruption of the governing Popular Party, including an unequivocal statement from the judge that Mariano Rajoy’s evidence was unreliable. That should have produced an immediate resignation but Rajoy and his government are trying to brazen it out.
Frightening prison sentences of fifty years and thirty years have been handed out to people like the former party treasurer, for the crime of running an immense slush fund and destroying all the party’s computer hard drives when the game was finally up.
But none of the present PP parliamentary group accept this has anything to do with them. The opposition motion of no confidence is instead of the honourable thing that should have happened: a full and immediate resignation of the PP government.
14.25 Taking a break to catch up on progress of the debate. If anything is not clear so far, please comment and I will attempt to explain. Any corrections by others following the detail will be gratefully accepted and amendments made.
15.00 The debate began with Pedro Sanchez (PSOE leader) inviting Rajoy to resign: “Dimita, señor Rajoy y todo terminará. (…) Su tiempo acabó. Dimita y esta moción de censura habrá terminado hoy, aquí y ahora”.
Basically, meaning resign and all this will be unnecessary; your time is up; let’s finish this now. A number of unremarkable and interminable speeches have followed and the lunch recess has taken place. The session resumes now for the rest of the day. Each time he is challenged, Rajoy has the opportunity to reply: it becomes a tired and long drawn-out corrida. Update later.
Meanwhile, a brief note on the constitutional process. If Sanchez gets a majority for his vote of no confidence tomorrow, this means Rajoy must step down immediately and Sanchez himself becomes the President of the Parliament (Prime Minister).
He has already stated he will use that eventuality to call elections, but he has not said when. Significantly, key voices in the press are also calling for the resignation of Rajoy and immediate elections.
15.10 What does this mean for Spain? I will next attempt to explain the complexities of this moment for the opportunities it presents to the Catalan secessionists, and it could not have happened at a worse moment. But I need to have lunch first. Spanish lunch: i.e. I’ll carry on with the blog when I feel like going back to work. Steve knows what I mean. 😊
16.00 How does all this connect with the Catalan situation? To begin with, and to keep things at the simplest possible, the Madrid government is at the point of ceasing direct rule (Article 155) over the usually autonomous Catalonia, after an illegal referendum in October 2017 for independence.
The Catalan regional parlament now has a puppet president who is directed by the fugitive ex-president Puigdemont (fighting a European arrest warrant in Germany). The fall of the Rajoy government in Madrid would be music to the ears of the extremists in Catalonia because they will leap on the power vacuum to advance their ‘procés’ towards secession from Spain. (A project half as mad as Brexit but mad all the same.)
When I say extremists, the word “Nazi” has been flying about all week in the Spanish press regarding Quim Torra the Catalan puppet president, whose racist and suprematist views have shocked all of Spain.
Are you still with me? Or would you be scratching your heads and asking for donkey photos at this point?
And as my internet allowance has almost entirely run out on the last day of the month, I am trying to find a wi-fi connection to continue updates from Madrid and finish this blog. This will amuse you…
16.30 PSOE leader Sanchez has been setting out a socialist programme for Spain. Some very detailed explanations how to resolve the present pensions crisis, and other social programmes. Also he has reached out to the Catalan separatists, saying he has consistently asked that Rajoy begins a dialogue with them to unblock the political stalemate, but Rajoy was incapable of talking. Sanchez would begin talks immediately.
Meanwhile Mariano Rajoy continues exploring his copious notes…
And the shifty Podemos couple Iglesias and Montero, who are the communists on the hill with the €600,000 chalet, continue their pantomime of ineffective conspiracies. They should be thrown out with Rajoy before their devil child is born in the millionaires’ Madrid suburb. Enough of your far left contradictions!
17.30 This may be of limited appeal but I’ll keep it going and update with a summary of the political comment later. Another full day of this tomorrow.
17.45 The news of the day is that Sanchez will have his majority vote of censure and the government will fall tomorrow. The Basque separatists have waited all day to make their views clear. They will vote with the censure motion.
20.30 Donkeys are being fed. None of them seemed concerned about the prospect of who governs Spain.
Matilde hopes free veterinary care may be part of a future PSOE programme but Rubí – ever the realist – said, “There’s more chance we’ll have flying carrots delivered by Santiago de Zanahorias than donkeys will ever get free health care.”
21.50 Immensely amusing that my well thought out running commentary on the political crisis in Spain – which has so far written off billions of pounds on the international money markets – has been visited by 12 people. (And welcome to ALL of you!)
Meanwhile Morris shagging Aitana has now passed 8.4 million views. Why explain politics? Let’s just accept the superficial consumers of the internet will always massively prefer a video of shagging donkeys to any attempt at serious discussion.
Well yes. This is no the science of rockets, is it señor?
Eight and a half million views… Well who wants carefully crafted blog posts, eh?