An article in the Guardian which after all that has happened here is probably the worst that has been printed in a major European paper. Has anybody noticed the bull in the room? The NY Times has been pretty damming of the goings on here but in general this country has got off pretty light up to now. Here in Spain the right wing is talking about Punch and Judy Shows and Christmas Parades. You read in the Guardian article that everybody is blaming the worker. The problem is always somewhere else. This PP mayor blames the worker, yet takes no responsibility – the usual lack of self criticism. This is typical, nobody takes responsibility for anything. The mayor’s job is to run the administration efficiently. This administration was obviously run very badly. Also we have the problem of the two Spains which of course is not supposed to exist either. Public money wasted and a man’s life wasted due to a system which is corrupt and vengeful. Please read on.
Well, the headline may sound like a trick question but here in the surreal world that is Spanish political discourse eithre 2 or 8 is the correct answer. Whatever you are having yourself. Since the die was cast we (a mass of people looking, with mouths open and worried expressions, at two large fuzzy dice floating through the air) have been wondering if we are going to get back to manic corruption or well, something else. The something else of course is what is worrying most people here. The fear of the unknown. The familiar sight and sound of corruption is for some much more comfortable than the unknown world of change. Change is a progressive’s mantra and too many in Spain, it seems, are not for change. Spain on the whole is very conservative and traditional. It tends to look inward, mirando el ombligo (naval gazing), never outward and therefore will not be swayed by negative press or criticism from outside. If it is Made in Spain, and that goes for corruption also, then, (esto es lo que hay) that’s how it is.
The party abruptly came to an end for some when the ‘real left’ in the form of Manuela Carmena stormed and captured the Town Hall – at least that is how the right wing see it. Do not mention democracy here. Manuela’s main problem as mayor of Madrid is that she is under seige from the right. The right occupy and hold the media, the central government, the regional government and the justice system. Manuela is surrounded and many wonder how long she can resist. She is not a young woman and they are picking her councellors off one by one. There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded Spanish right wing. It has been outright war since Manuela took office and it started even before she had sat in her office. The black ops of the PP party never sleeps or takes a holiday. If a dog shits in the street, which is something that is not unknown here, Manuela it seems is to blame. And the problem is that at least 30% of the population believe it.
So have there been any changes since Manuela came to power? Well there was an attempt to change the clothes and the general decoration of the Christmas parade – that debate is still burning – the right wing went crazy. It seems that they are not ready for change – just yet. So how can she change things like education, the media, the justice system, the form of democracy and of course corruption if she is being attacked from all sides for trying something new for the Christmas parade. She is now under fire because of an attempt to remove the paraphanalia of the Franco era from the streets of Madrid. This is something which should have been done over 30 years ago but because of the right wing refusal to condemn or rebuke anything to do with Franco or the Franco era nothing has happened. The PSOE should hold their heads in shame for not doing more earlier. Yes, the Spanish are very traditional and very conservative and in nothing more than the tradition of mala leche (bad blood) between both civil war sides. The worker from the Guardian article referred to this.
Who is behind the right wing power machine? The right wing hold power in every institution in Spain and have no intention of letting go. This is a legacy from Franco times and has not changed much since. The power of the church is very prominent here. It has a strangle hold on major sectors of education which I believe prevents the type of liberal education that might see an end to the present environment of political polarization. Its continuous widespread influence at all levels of the education system, even at university level, is quite surprising. But most interesting of all is their influence in the media. TV13 and the radio station El Cope are two of the outlets which are favourites of the right wing. Maybe Pope Francis needs to make some changes to his ultra conservative and ultra right wing clergy here in Spain. I think it is time for the church to get out of politics. It seems that the tradition of the Inquisition continues and Manuela had better be careful or she will be burned at the stake in the Plaza Mayor while the ultra right are enjoying a nice cup of cafe con leche. Of course with mala leche.
The law is the same for everybody or so the old king Juan Carlos told us. The justice system moves very slowly here – justice delayed is justice denied. Sometimes the system is so slow that people get off on the technicality that time has run out. The ‘justice’ system is also very politicised and this works to the advantage of some. At the moment it seems like all the members of the PP party are either going into or are inside or are coming out of a courthouse. It is fair to say that the whole party seems to be in court over some corruption case or other. And the police seem to be raiding their offices every other day looking for proof of corruption. I may like to exagerrate but on this theme it is not possible to exaggerate enough. These cases have been going on now for many years and it seems as if they will never come to an end. The only cases that have been wrapped up and dispatched with efficiency are the cases of two ‘progressive’ judges who tried to break the logjam. They went against the establishment and were quickly removed. In Spain a judge has to be very careful about how he or she interprets the law when dealing with the establishment. At the moment everybody is enjoying the spectacle of another interesting case where a right wing judge has made those usually very slow wheels of justice run quickly. This is the case of the puppeteers – a small mobile theatre group. So what did they do wrong? Well it seems that nobody knows but they found themselves locked up in jail quicker than anybody could say – ‘check all the facts well’. Are we in Europe or North Africa?
They have been released but I am sure that is not the end of it and that it will never end. The right wing never forgive or forget – that old mala leche. Innocence is not enough to save them, they have attracted the attention of the right wing and they will be chewed up and spit out a thousand times for being in the wrong place at the wrong time – i.e. Spain today. OK, I understand the right wing argument that they would probably be beheaded in Saudi Arabia but I have to remind them that this is the EU where we expect higher standards of behaviour towards those we do not agree with. Freedom of expression etc. So what did these two puppeteers do? Well it seems that in certain parlance they are anti system and anti establishment. They were performing a work about police brutality, the unfair ‘justice’ system etc – which many here would agree with. Monty Python as you can imagine could never have started in this country. In the end it seems that the audience was too immature – but in Spain it seems that the audience is often too immature. The truth of the matter is that the children were too young to appreciate the message or even to be scandalized and the adults were too ignorant to appreciate the message but right wing enough to be scandalized. And the ‘justice’ system was too heavy handed.
Where does this get us about forming a government to rule this country? A good question. It seems that this country is ungovernable at the moment. The drums of independence are beating in the background and not only in Catalonia. The health and education systems if not on the limit have probably already started to topple. The debt and deficit problems of the central government combined with some amazing debts in the regions are very worrying. The unemployment level combined with a very weak and badly paid job market cannot be turned around quickly if ever. So whoever or whatever party gets to govern they are in for a very thankless job as there are no easy answers. Combined with this the constant riding from the right wing, who never rest, will make the next legislature one to remember for everybody. The Spanish are noisy people in general but wait for the screaming and shouting that is coming down the track from the right. So what has the qustion in the title got to do with all this? Well, whether it is 8 or 2 it does not matter as everything here in Spain it seems is resolved por los cojones (by the testacles).