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What Is Happening In Spain (politically)?

Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:00 pm

I am currently worried about the state of affairs in Spain. And I am not talking about the economic and financial situation (which of course is more than worrying) here but about the decay of democracy in the form of rampant and still rising corruption especially among the political elite.

The economic crisis has swept the conservative PP into power with a landslide victory over the former social-democratic government even though the party was entangled in one of the biggest corruption scandals in post-franco Spain (seeürtel_case for reference).
As it is only one person so far has been indicted in this case and it was Mr. Garzon the very judge who opened and led the case. Only weeks after the PP came into power he was found guilty and barred from the legal profession for 11 years thus effectively killing his career (in Spain as he still serves as an adviser at The Hague I believe). At least he was acquitted by a court of the "crime" of investigating crimes in the Franco period.
Now the government has also replaced the entire board of the corruption bureau at the ministry of finance who used to be unaligned and replaced board members with party loyals. That move also might not sit well with EU inspectors if Spain is ever to need aid.

Now, I do understand that a change in government also means technical changes but on this level and scope I truly see the Spanish democracy in danger (mind you just today another court ruled that the excessive force police used against protesters in Barcelona last may was "not excessive" and the sole intention was to "clean the place").
In last year's Freedom House's perceived corruption index Spain was ranked 4th worst of all EU countries just on top of Italy, Greece and Croatia I wonder about next year's ranking. These developments also do not help attract foreign investment, methinks.
All this combined with a government that broke it's electoral promises within days, did just the same spending cuts it opposed earlier and now does not even try to hide it's true face and that it is all about enriching themselves... interesting times ahead!

Of course I might have fallen prey to my own political inclination and I see things way too negatively, but I fear I'm right.

Further readings for the interested (mostly in Spanish):
The Metro might be the Sub(optimal)way
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:32 am

RE: What Is Happening In Spain (politically)?

Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:06 am

Politically things are calm in Spain, bordering on apathetic, very generally speaking. There exist the old ruling blocs, PP and PSOE on one side - Spain is essentially a two party state - and the more radical liberal and libertarian youth and younger persons who do not belong to the ruling elite.

The apathy stems from the fact that neither group has any vision or solution for Spain to the future. The ruling elite does not have any special vision other than to fiddle with social issues (such as immigration, abortion etc.) and to ensure the supremacy of their friends and benefactors.

There is no special distinction made on behalf of the people whether PP or PSOE is in power, both are considered corrupt and out of touch with the needs of the people they're ostensibly representing. There might be something to that, but I'm not entirely convinced myself, except in the case of corruption: I think neither party is free of corruption.

On the corruption index you mention, I have some serious reservations, since it has managed to completely miss out on some of the most blatant corruption found in Europe, such as in Iceland where the former prime minister is in fact under impeachment, the entire financial system rotten to the core and incestiously intermarried with both the judicial system and the executive branch of government in ways we can only dream of in Spain.

It is so bad that in all cases of financial corruption coming to the supreme court, at least one judge has found himself to be incompetent of hearing the case because of personal relations or business relations with the indicted party. The index gives Iceland pretty much a clean bill of health.

Honestly, regarding corruption in Spain, neither major party is particularly immune but I'll grant you that PP has the more overt cases. However, despite perceived corruption there isn't that much of it, there is however a great chance of corrupted people getting indicted and imprisoned.

As to the matter of Garzón, well he is certainly a proud left-liberal activist (in the literal sense of the word) judge on one hand, on the other he does love being in the spotlight even more. He has been using his political agenda to an effective way to stir up a bees nest and I think that's exactly what he wanted. He never saw himself going anywhere in the judicial system, he'd never be appointed to the Supreme court or the Constitutional court by either party - but this way he can go out with a bang, with full publicity and righteousness and even be perceived as a sort of a martyr for "the cause".

I would be relatively hesitant to feel very sorry for him, since I think this is precisely what he wants. It's a win-win situation for him to be perceived to be a champion of the left and enemy of "the system".

And that's in my opinion the core of the problem, the apathy of the electorate and the lack of vision. All to easily people think that it's a system set against them, that they're "all" corrupt and "all" the same. That there is no point in even trying to affect that system, thus the only way against it is with protests or even violent protests (depending on how far on the anarchist scale one finds one self) yet there are no answers within the 15-M movement, in case they'd actually achieve something and a "democracy" according to their thinking would be established.

They are in that sense just as bad as the "system", the politicians they're fighting. They represent nothing except some vague idea of a perfect libertarian democracy and yet they do represent in a general way most people under 40 in the country.

As for replacing boards and heads of institutions, a new government always starts with a clean slate here. From investigative commissions to the state TV and radio. That's just business as usual and nothing peculiar about that.

There's one thing that I'm keenly aware of that's different now than before and I've never seen it, but there is a growing distrust and resentment towards the EU here - something which the so-called core nations of the Union (e.g. Germany) should be aware of in general and the EU itself in particular.

Regardless, there's no need to panic just because the PP won in a landslide - at least not while Rajoy is president of the government and the PP. He is of the core of the intellectual elite and is nothing if not predictable and rather unassuming as leaders go. He will not rock the boat.

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