Mariano Rajoy rounded-up his vision of Spain at the end of today’s debate by harking back to the days of ‘España – una, grande y libre’ – the catchphrase of the fascist Movimiento Nacional. Coming at the end of a debate marked by several major mistakes on Rajoy’s part as well as continued interruption from Zapatero, the closing comments were particularly interesting. Zapatero spoke of ‘convivancia’ and correcting the mistakes of the past (he also named at least 3 times as many concrete proposals for the next legislature), and he once again finished up with ‘Good night and good luck’. Rajoy also chose to make mention of ‘la niña’, the hypothetical little girl who’s ‘inside [his] head’ – a device he was roundly mocked for using the first time around.
Rajoy said various things which make it difficult for me to call this another draw. His claim that Zapatero ‘Lies constantly and never tells the truth’, along with his accusation that the PSOE had ‘done nothing’ over the last four years were pretty foolish. He also tacitly admitted that public spening would be cut if the PP came to power, and roundly failed to win any points when he economy, Iraq and ETA were mentioned.
Zapatero appeared much more combative and self assured than last time, though he still had trouble filling all the time allotted to him (and continued to interrupt Rajoy constantly). He was right, I feel, to defend his stewardship of the economy, which is doing pretty well.
Though no-one can be certain of the outcome of the forthcoming election, I suspect that Mariano Rajoy’s political career is close to collapse. I’d be very surprised if he survived what is now a likely electoral defeat. More on uncle Mariano this week.
As you have probably seen, Hugo Chavez was told to shut up the other day by king Juan Carlos during an international conference. Chavez was boorish as usual, using flamboyant insults to lambaste former Spanish president Aznar as a ‘fascist’ (not strictly correct – Aznar was a falangist, which isn’t quite the same thing). When current president Zapatero stepped in to say ‘Steady on, old boy’, Chavez wouldn’t stop interrupting him, despite his microphone being turned off. At this point, Juan Carlos did his bit for international diplomacy by saying “Why don’t you just shut up?”.
The general feeling in the media is that most Spaniards are pretty happy about their king taking Chavez down a peg, but the people I’ve spoken with don’t sound quite so pleased. Chavez was being a complete prick, as usual, but JC didn’t make himself look much more civilised by telling him to shut up, and then storming out of the conference. A friend said to me “He shouldn’t have said that… that’s not how you talk to people at these sorts of events”. And I agree. The king, for all the short term ‘macho’ points he might have earned, didn’t do much to make Spain look like the modern, civilised democracy we know it to be. He may also have piled some more risk onto Spain’s relations with Latin America, which could affect trade and the economy. No, it was an unhelpful flare of temper and not much more.
One man did make Spain look good, and that was Zapatero. In the coverage on the UK’s Channel 4 News, ZP was praised for his composure and diplomacy. Oh, and apparently, our cousin Mariano Rajoy telephoned the king to thank him for sticking up for Aznar… but failed to call Zapatero to thank him. What a petty, poisonous little man Rajoy is. He’s almost worse than Aznar.