Tag Archives: PP

Can Rajoy survive the Bárcenas case?

I've been meaning to write about the political corruption cases rocking CiU and the PP over the last few weeks, but every time I start an article, a new case appears. Since Gürtel, we've had (to name a few) Palau, Sabadell, Lloret… and Bárcenas. All the cases are serious but Bárcenas is the big daddy of corruption scandals. It's is a case which could – and should – bring down the government.

€500

Originally linked with Gürtel, the Bárcenas case involves significant cash payments made on a monthly basis to senior members of the PP by its then treasurer, Luis Bárcenas. The money, mainly party donations and kickbacks, was handed out in envelopes. This went on for about 25 years until it suddenly stopped a few years ago, apparently on Mariano Rajoy's orders.

Bárcenas also benefited from the tax amnesty which was one of Rajoy's first policies. He managed to legalize millions of Euros kept previously in Swiss bank accounts.

What's stunning about this case is that firstly, this isn't mere anonymous claims made in El Mundo. It's stuff that Bárcenas and his legal team seems to be admitting to. Secondly, Mariano Rajoy himself allegedly received €25,000 a year for 11 years in dodgy money. And this may have gone on until 2009.

With a spring and summer of protests on the way, I'm starting to wonder if Rajoy's government can survive. If it does, it will be through our failure to act as citizens and residents of this corrupt country.

The PP's campaign against the Catalan language

Aragon, País Valencià, Illes Balears… these are three Spanish autonomous communities with a historical link to the Catalan language. They are also three Spanish autonomous communities where the PP is in power. And what is the result of this combination of factors? Evidence of a distributed, strategic plan to de-Catalanise these regions.

(Image borrowed fromhttp://independentcatalonia.blogspot.com/2008/12/reason-14-more-spaniards-that-are.html without permission)

Example: I met several people in their mid 20s-early 30s in Alicante province recently. This is an area where the street names are all still in Valencian-Catalan. Not one of the young people I met spoke a work of this language (not that we discussed this much). Why? Because they had attended local state schools (the PSOE also bears some responsibility here). The PP in Valencia also led the charge for redefining Valencian as a different language to Catalan, something which the Valencian Academy clearly rejects.

Example: The attempts to relabel Catalan and its dialects as part of Aragonés Oriental (Eastern Aragonese) with the support of the PP in Aragon. This despite the fact that Eastern Aragonese is a different language.

Example: Repeated attempts to change place names and street names in Valenican towns, against the wishes of the people who live there.

Example: In the Balearic islands, the PP has started to rename cities. Palma has changed to Palma de Mallorca (Spanish version) and Maó has changed to Maó-Mahon (mixed version). Simultaneously, Catalan has been downgraded from being a compulsory subject in Balearic schools and will no longer be a requirement for civil servants.

Example: Education minister Wert has proposed a new education plan for Catalonia which would take the level of education in Catalan back to how it was in 1978. Making it an optional subject, not needed to complete high school, and abolishing 'immersion' represent a complete redrawing of the Catalan education system. The PP, knowing that Catalan students do perfectly well in Spanish, has opted to put children at a disadvantage – not being able to speak Catalan – purely for the purposes of creating a cultural divide in Catalonia.

When we talk about attacks on culture and the threat of ethnic division in Catalonia and Spain, much is made of Catalan nationalism and the dangerous game it plays. I've never bought this theory because the Catalan separatist parties are now much less ethnically-centred than they were 15 or 20 years ago.

However, the PP is a retrograde party. It cannot deal with the problems it has created in the present and so it turns to policies from the past to fix things. They talk of banning strikes, banning protests… simultaneously, they make people redundant and then cut unemployment benefits, and everywhere they have power, they are now attempting to de-Catalanise Spain. With all the evidence (and what I've presented here is actually just a fraction of what's going on), it seems difficult to deny that the PP is following a concrete, organised campaign in territories where it has power and at a national level.

Frankly, this strikes me as another good argument for independence.

Marcelino Iglesias and Godwin's Law

It is currently popular among Spanish nationalists to compare the Catalan nationalism of Artur Mas with Nazism. A helpful argument, I'm sure we can all agree.

Perhaps said Spanish nationalists should reflect better on their political heritage. After all, we know who ordered the lists of Jews in Spain for the SS. Clue: it wasn't Lluís Companys.

Supporting tomorrow's general strike in Spain

With the approval of savage labor reforms and likely even more savage cuts to come, tomorrow's general strike is a vital chance to show that working people in Spain are willing to stand up for themselves and say ENOUGH. We demand dignity.

Reasons for supporting the strike:

  • Even the PP accepts their reforms won't increase employment
  • Spain is in recession, making job security more vital than ever
  • Workers can now be fired for 9 days' medical leave, even with a doctor's note
  • The reforms strike particularly harshly at the young and newly employed
  • The reforms are designed to destroy workers' collective power
  • The reforms incentivize putting women on short-term contracts, widening the gender gap in the workplace
  • Emergency redundancies can now be declared even when a company is still growing

The PP and CiU are determined to destroy the hard-won social model in Spain. They try to blame public spending for the crisis but it's the private sector that really caused these problems. So they're introducing privatization into the health service, cuts to education budgets, cuts to civil service wages (not for diputados, though, of course), cuts to pensions… And all the while, unemployment grows.

This strike is a vital opportunity to express your anger at a set of labor reforms and spending cuts which won't create employment but will only deepen the crisis for working people in Spain.

Freedom for Francisco Camps! Death to Garzón!

Francisco Camps, former PP president of the Valencian autonomous community was today acquitted of corruption after a witch-hunt in Valencia's courts that has lasted nearly three years. The put-upon ex local party leader was ruled not guilty in a near-unanimous verdict of 5-4 by a jury this evening, after 15 hours deliberation. Today's events bring to an end what has been a living nightmare for Camps, whose innocence we never doubted. Last year, he nearly pleaded guilty to the corruption charges just to end this farce of a kangaroo court; but on second thoughts (and after his two friends pleaded guilty that morning), he changed his mind and valiantly fought on. For justice, for liberty, for free gifts that definitely didn't affect his decision making skills.

The devil behind this horror story of a near travesty of justice is none other than Baltasar Garzón, the crusading Marxist-Leninist investigative judge, famed for his collection of anti-PP tattoos. Camps will no doubt find some solace in the fact that Garzón remains on trial himself, for having the temerity to investigate the deaths of a paltry 114,000 people during Spain's "long transition" (1939-1978). It's a shame that Mañuel Fraga didn't live to see the verdict delivered.

"Quin país de merda, tú!" – a traditional saying from Cerdanyola which roughly translates as "Freedom for Francisco Camps! Death to Garzón!".

The PP's persecution complex

It's the biggest political scandal in Spain for years. Numerous activists, officials, elected representatives and friends of the Partido Popular appear to be linked to a corruption case known as Gürtel. Centred on the PP in the Comunitat Valenciana, the case involves TV station managers, tailors, mayors and even the Valencian president, Francisco Camps. The accused are alleged to have taken and/or paid bribes in order to obtain public contracts for friendly companies. The most famous accusation is that Camps received €5,000 worth of suits as a gift, paid for by the company Orange Market, which ended up receiving various works contracts from the Valencian government. For background and also a lot more detail on the case, see South of Watford where Graeme has written plenty of posts about it.

Today's Público carries the story that PP leader Mariano Rajoy yesterday claimed that "Since 2004, no PP militante [activist/party member] has been convicted… and there are several, later let off by the government, from the PSOE who were charged". He was being questioned about the allegations that just won't go away. What Público finds unusual about Rajoy's rigorous defence of his party's integrity is his less than rigorous memory of the last five years. The newspaper points out that he's forgetting a minimum of 41 names – 41 PP activists who have been convicted of corruption or connected crimes. Now, I'm not very good with names either, so I understand his difficulty. I guess he'll thank Público later for jogging his memory.

Denial has been a mainstay of the PP's defence over the last few months. There's nothing unusual about that. Few political parties, faced with a devastating series of accusations, would react differently. Though it saddens me, this seems to have become one of the primary functions of a political party (though I shouldn't think it's a recent a development as all that). The second defence the PP has employed – and it's one that seems to be growing in popularity within the party – is that of political persecution. The PP has been quietly hinting from the rooftops that the Socialist government might be pursuing these corruption allegations for purely political reasons.

And it was in this spirit that PP publicity officer Esteban González Pons yesterday claimed that PP officials – even senior 'big beasts' like Rajoy and Aguirre – feel that they're "being spied on", that they have to "speak in codes on the phone" and that they "are certain" that there is a "black hand" which is politically influencing the courts and the police. It's an old trick, of course: if you can't win court cases fairly (and let's face it, unless one of the judges is a mate, they don't seem to be doing too well), you claim that the court is illegitimate. The PP are going a little further and seem to be saying that the entire justice system in Spain is illegitimate: González added this heart-rending appeal: "We've lived through a year during which the PP has been treated in a way that no other party has been treated since the Transition*. The government has persecuted us and has used the police and the courts to discredit our officials".

I guess that means that pretty much anything any PP militante does is OK. Because in a country where the courts are controlled politically, there can be no justice, and no crime, right?

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*There was no 'Dictatorship' only 40 blank years and then a 'Transition'. Please amend your history books in accordance with this new decree.

Is that it?

Busy times here at thebadrash tower. We bought a new gas grill (like a barbecue, but for cheats) and have been experimenting with it with varying degrees of success. Hint for those just starting out on the barbecue road: when chicken looks like it's cooked, cook it some more. And then some more. Alternatively, puke up a couple of times the next morning.

The big topic for bloggers here has been the unsurprising end to ETA's ceasefire. The usual suspects were quick to voice their traditional mixture of "String 'em up! / Hanging's too good for 'em!". In a way, they're right. If we killed everybody in the entire world, none of these things would happen.

Personally, I don't think the ETA story is that important.

What I find most interesting is whether the Spanish government pursued the Political Parties Law with too much vigour. This policy ended up by denying potential ETA supporters the vote as each party which looked like it might represent their views got proscribed. Stupid move. It makes no sense to ban political parties, even if you consider their supporters to be arseholes, terrorists or whatever. Investigate sources of funding, personal and corporate conduct of the party's members, beef up council database security to stop the thugs getting targets' personal data (though they could probably do this without a database, anyway)… but allow the party to exist. Give it the chance to enjoy limited democratic power as it's elected to town councils and help to lead it away from terrorism.

Comparisons with Northern Ireland are, on the whole, idle and unhelpful. Batasuna needs to publicly denounce violence at some point… and they will, but only if they're operating as a political force. Denying them a democratic voice prolongs the violence.

Ostensibly, the main winners in the current situation are the PP and ETA. Not really that surprising: the two need each other. ETA thrives on the sort of nonsense spouted by halfwits like Aznar and Rajoy, while those halfwits gain their folk devil with which they can terrorise the electorate. Sure, you could present this as a case of the PSOE failing to heed the PP's warnings about ETA all this time. Or you could remember that the PP has been the first opposition party in Spanish democracy to commit itself to wrecking any chance at negotiations, while simultaneously accusing the left of being 'soft on terror'. This led to the absurd wave of banning party lists.

But what about the airport bomb? It was disgraceful, of course. There will probably be more bombs and they'll all make me sad, frightened and angry. But they'll never have the effect on me that I've seen on several blogs: that they can somehow be solved by abolishing democratic rights for a small proportion of the population. This is not a solution, it's a causal factor. Sometimes, one wonders whether those in favour of such a policy secretly know that it'll only cause more trouble… perhaps that's what they want.

The monkeys already vote

orangutan1.gifrajoy2.gifThe Spain Herald are up in arms over the Socialist government's plans to give more rights to simians, effectively providing apes with the same legal protection afforded to human beings. The PP seem utterly perplexed by the fact that the Socialists aren't doing the work of a proper government (i.e. building huge, useless national infratructure projects which directly benefit their own ministers, initiating flag-saluting ceremonies, illegally invading middle-eastern countries and so on). But then, the PP is the same party which has no values… so they can become very confused when anyone else appears to.

For example: the PP have stated over and over again that they were worried that the new Catalan statute would go against Spain's constitution. The integrity and protection of the constitution was always their main concern, not childish, partisan politicking. But now Rajoy wants to hold a national refferrendum on whether the Estaut is acceptable or not. Oh, Mariano! But that goes against the Spanish constitution! Nevermind, says the orang-utan. It's the will of the people of Spain. But what about when your buddy Aznar invaded Iraq? Up to 90% of the Spanish population were opposed in some way to this war, but your party didn't give a toss.

So what do you really believe in, PP? The constitution? You've already proven that you don't. Public opinion? You couldn't care less, until you can find some people to back one of your foolish crusades. The rule of law? That's why you lied about the Madrid bombings after they happened, ignored warnings before they happened, and are now trying to pervert the course of justice by claiming that the judiciary and police are involved in some sort of bizarre conspiracy. The Spanish people? That's why you took an active part in misleading the Spanish people into an illegal and deadly war.
The monkeys have already got the vote in Spain. Luckily they lost the last election, and at this rate, they'll lose the next one too.

Spanish newspapers reveal support for military coup

Right-wing daily paper La Razón today continues its anti-Catalan campaign with another series of letters published in support of Lt Gen Aguado who was arrested for threatening military action against Catalonia. Yesterday, La Razón claimed that it had received a letter signed by 50 retired military personnel who strongly support the general, while today it is the turn of civilians to call on the Spanish armed forces to save us all from the agonising choice of democracy.

El Mundo and La Razón today also both lead on stories claiming that the upper echelons of the Spanish army are in turmoil over the proposed Catalan statute of autonomy. The suggestion – taken very smoothly from PP rhetoric – is that the Socialist government have brought Spain to the brink of… well no one wants to say quite what we're on the brink of… that Spain is in trouble and that the Socialists have maliciously pushed us all into this situation. This claim is pretty difficult to understand, given the positions of the two main parties on a range of issues.

It all started with the PP losing the election after their handling of the Madrid bombings.  For those who don't remember, the right-wing party tried to blame Basque separatist group ETA for the bombings, even when they knew it was impossible that ETA were involved. The truth was that Al Qaeda had carried out the attacks in retribution for Spain assisting in the invasion of Iraq – a PP policy opposed by nearly 90% of the Spanish population.

After losing the popular mandate, the PP felt that they had been cheated. Indeed, just before the vote – when it looked like they were going to lose – José Maria Aznar tried to cancel the election… a sort of quiet coup which would almost certainly have triggered mass civil disturbances. The King told him where to go. So the PP did what spoilt brats do best – had a tantrum and refused to ever play with the Socialists. In short, the PP swore to oppose any legislation whatsoever that was proposed by the Socialist party. If the Socialists proposed tax breaks for PP members, the PP would probably vote against it and go on television to declare it "the most dangerous policy idea in a million years".

Herein lies the problem. As the PP are fundamentally opposed to the Socialist party, they take every opportunity they can to appear on television railing against proposed reforms (minor and major) and more and more often suggesting that the Socialists are driving Spain into the abyss. This is what's referred to as brinkmanship politics, and it's a very risky game. The result of constantly claiming that the political climate is overheating and in fact about to boil over, is that you raise the political temperature. This is of benefit for the PP because firstly they can claim that it's the Socialists' fault, and secondly if things do go wrong, the PP will be the people who benefit. The other risk of this posturing is if nothing happens. if the PP spend four years gnashing their teeth and wailing about the impending disaster – and then nothing happens – well, they're going to look pretty stupid. The problem with this is that it is therefore in the PP's interests to plunge Spain into a constitutional crisis: they will benefit from a military coup, and will look stupid if one doesn't happen.

Yesterday's Financial times covers the whole Aguado debacle very well but it is the closing argument that I agree with most vehemently:

Spain's constitution should also be amended to spell out the supremacy of civil over military power. Unfortunately, the opposition Popular Party, still unreconciled to its ejection from power after the Madrid bombings of March 2004, seems to think Gen Mena has a point. That could represent a greater threat to Spanish unity than Catalonia's autonomy ambitions. (source: FT, 10-jan 2005)

This is exactly the point. The Catalan statute of autonomy is not something worth tearing ourselves apart over. Yes, I support it. But I support similar moves for tyhe Basque country, Galicia, Andalusia and any other country who have democratically chosen to expand their autonomy. The future of Spain does not lie with dogmatic Madrid-centric fascism. it lies in a vibrant, liberal society – devolved in its regions with political freedom, democracy and equality as its foundation.

Acebes claims transparency after March 11th

After the post-fascist PP rushed to blame ETA for the Madrid bombings, the Spanish people reacted with disgust and anger. The Partido Popular/Popular Party (PP) lost in the general election days later.

Now, Angel Acebes has claimed that he told the truth. He claims that there still could have been some ETA involvement (despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support such a claim). He also states that while the PP maintained the moral high ground with complete transparency, other groups used the bombings as an excuse to rouse the people of Spain, solely for their own political ambitions.

These 'others' are essentially the groups José Maria Aznar referred to as "the PSOE [a mainstream socialist party], the anarchists and the communists" – a telling remark with the very clear intention of harking back to a time when everyone was either a good catholic or a raving Stalinist – those happy days known as the dictatorship, during which Aznar's and most of the former PP ministers' families benefited from patronage and support for Franco's illegal regime.

In fact the PP tried to use the bombings for their own political gain, but in a far more sinister way than those on the left wing who merely supported independent and genuinely spontaneous demonstrations. On the eve of the election day (the 14th of March), Aznar and his deputies attempted to force through a temporary law which would have suspended the general elections until further notice. The significance of this attempt cannot be overestimated. Nor should the PP's attempts to make itself seem like a centrist party cloud the truth that most party members and ministers were at some time dedicated followers of the dictatorship which overthrew a democratic republic in the 1930s.

Manuel Fraga, PP grandee and president of Galicia, frequently addressed major PP conferences with all major party leaders present (including Aznar and Acebes along with the imbecilic former foreign minister Ana Palacio). Before the reintroduction of democracy, Fraga had another job. He was the minister of propaganda and information under General Franco, and many saw him as the number three fascist in the Spanish junta.

So this is the PP, a party that Tony Blair was happy to do considerable business with, despite the fact that it openly harboured elements with similar ideas to those of the BNP. The PP oversaw numerous policies with roots directly in the dictatorship including the re-introduction of compulsory catholic religious education in schools (now to be repealed), and the establishment of the 'Plan Hidratico' which would divert the precious water of the Ebre (which benefits the farms and valleys of Catalunya and Castellón) to benefit instead the farms and valleys of the far more Spanish South.

Besides this, Aznar used public money to fund not only his own daughter's wedding (at which Blair was a witness, effectively feasting and gorging off the work of Spanish workers) and spent an incredible $2 million of state funds in his efforts to get the Congressional Medal of Honor.

And these are the people who gripe about a terrorist group (ETA) with allegedly fewer than 1000 members. The real danger to Spain over the last seven years – indeed, since the 1930's – is the presence of a far right wing minority so shameless and malicious that they intentionally hurt autonomous regions of Spain with poor investment, high taxes and a sort of smirky hatred.

The PP represent everything that is wrong with Spain: cruelty, arrogance, racism, fascism, greed and corruption. That they were thrown out by the Spanish people is something that should be celebrated and remembered.