••• The International Writers Magazine: Spanish Elections June 26th 2016
EM Poll: June 17th- PP 27.8 PSOE 19.4 Unidos-Podemos 18.2 Ciudadanos 19.9
PP and Ciudadnos combined could possibly form majority on these numbers
Second Chance in Spain
Not since the end of the Franco dictatorship and the introduction of democracy 40 years ago has this country been faced with a new and dramatically uncertain future.
Europe has been relatively peaceful since the last terrorist attacks and world news has been concentrating on the political battles in the US with the possibility of a radical change in government should the Republican candidate, Donald Trump be a front runner for the presidency. China is having monetary problems that could upset the world economies, Brazil’s woes could jeopardize this year’s Olympics if the already volatile political situation should worsen (and that's without the Zika virus compounding isues). The ongoing plight of refugees continues to complicate the up until now harmoniousness in Europe despite a respite with the agreement reached with Turkey. Germany is suffering the pains of integration and the tragedy is that for once fingers can be pointed at the one and only culprit, the ongoing war in Syria and other parts of the Islamic world. The rest of Europe, or should we say the European Union (EU) is braced for the forthcoming referendum, better known as Brexit, in the United Kingdom to decide on whether to continue or not as a member of the club. Curiously a recent poll published in a Spanish media reported that the majority of those wishing to leave were the over 65's. whereas the younger generation, that have enjoyed the ‘Life of Riley’ on their numerous visits and travels across the continent are quite happy to remain. For them, economics and politics are of little importance. Tragedy is that a large percentage of the youngsters are also reluctant to go to vote.
So what about Spain?
As I continue to report on the ongoing situation focused on the radical changes, both political and economic that have taken place over the last 18 months in the rest of the world, including the EU, are oblivious to a powder keg that will definitely explode sometime during this year and will be just as important as the situation in the United Kingdom. Not since the end of the Franco dictatorship and the introduction of democracy 40 years ago has this country been faced with a new and dramatically uncertain future. As reported in many earlier essays, the bi-partisan system that has prevailed has now been obliterated by the introduction of two new parties, ‘Ciudadanos’, headed by Sr. Albert Rivera and Podemos by Sr. Pablo Iglesias. What has not been mentioned is that these two politicians were born at the beginning of the transition period as well as the head of the socialist party (PSOE), Sr. Pedro Sanchez. As one senior socialist said, ‘none have lived the horrors of the dictatorship nor the pains of introducing democracy back in the 1970's. They have never experienced hardship and have therefore benefitted from the ongoing prosperity ever since.’
So, what’s in store from now on?
We are back to the election campaign for a second round ready for the ballot boxes on the 26th of June. The parties had vowed to keep the costs down, but no one was prepared to cut back on the propaganda jamboree. Meetings, television shows, newspaper editorials and comments, not to forget the ever growing social media networking have been rampant ever since the shot gun was fired. The summary so far is as follows:
The Conservatives (PP), the government ‘in office’ as it is known, headed by Sr. Rajoy continues to exploit the macro economic achievements that no doubt have turned the country around, at the same time lambasting the extreme left elements that could threaten the stability of the country. They are literally on a scaremongering path. On the other hand, the Socialist (PSOE) candidate, Sr. Pedro Sanchez has ‘slightly’ changed his tune after having lost a great deal of supporters first time round. He has just stated that a government will be formed this second time and that he will not ‘veto’ the party that receives the majority of votes. The ‘small print’ is that he expects to be that party but hasn’t quite said how. Then we have Podemos with Sr. Pablo Iglesias at the helm who have just teamed up with the ‘true’ Communist United Left (IU) party headed by Sr. Alberto Garzón to form a new lot called ‘United We Can’ (Unidos Podemos) and have upset the polls that now predict a PP majority but followed by this coalition of extreme left voters. And what about the every-which-way party of Ciudadanos?
Before I continue it is time to bring an unusual element that could have a great impact on the elections. Venezuela! I purposefully did not mention this in the introduction because what is happening in that country could very well have an impact on the Spanish elections. The international press has been reporting on how Venezuela is on the verge of a complete collapse and total disaster. Meanwhile the President, Nicolas Maduro has been lambasting and insulting the Spanish President Sr. Rajoy on a continual basis.
So why should that matter?
It may or it may not. What does matter is that the whole campaign of the extreme left group Podemos for the past two years, ever since they appeared on the scene, has been to use Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution as an example to be introduced into Spain. In fact, this particular party is before the judges on fraudulent undeclared income from the very South American country that they adore, although this is another story.
Enter Sr. Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos
He has recently returned from a trip to Caracas where he addressed the Venezuelan General Assembly at the very moment that Sr. Maduro had declared a state of emergency in the country, i.e. sending in the troops to control the masses. Naturally Sr. Rivera has blown the lid off Podemos and… well, let’s leave it there. Oh! I forgot, the ex-Socialist Spanish President, Sr. Rodriguez Zapatero also visited Caracas, but to meet with Sr. Maduro! Nobody really knows why.
So far this report may seem to be turning into a Soap Opera, but it is not. The continuing farcical events that are taking place throughout the country ever since many town councils, including Madrid, Barcelona and some of the autonomous regions are governed by this new bunch of extreme left parties are outnumbering many sensible and reasonable decisions that should be taken for the benefit of all Spanish citizens and are not. Again, I’ll leave it at that as this episode alone could fill a diary.
So what other events have taken place?
Catalonia and Barcelona!
A recent report in The Guardian, ‘The most radical mayor in the world’ described in detail the curriculum vitae and ascent to power of Ms. Ada Colau, the mayor of this city. She is a member of ‘Barcelona en Comú’, an offshoot of Podemos and as per her CV was brought up through the ranks of the most radical sector of the anti-system members of Spanish society to reach her present position. Her goal is, and has been, to protect and fight for the underdogs such as the ‘evicted’, the homeless and the poor by punishing the rich that includes the lucrative tourist section of the city. Trouble is that it has backfired. A group of ‘squatters’ that had been inhabiting the abandoned premises of a bank branch office for the past 5 years suddenly received eviction orders and as they refused to leave, the riot police where sent to evict them. As I go to press riots with over 20 injured police have been going on for the past few nights. Now comes the catch.
Ms. Colau has suggested that the local neighbors should negotiate a truce and has blamed the police of over stepping their mark. However, Sr. Puigdemont who is the President of Catalonia, has come out in defense of law and order. The last thing that he wishes is for the outside world to view Catalonia as a region that is out of control after he has promised to hold a referendum for independence (I’ve reported this issue over the past year or more) in a year’s time. By the way, the autonomous region is bankrupt and is part of the failure of Spain to comply with the deficit figures imposed by Brussels. Moody’s rating have almost dropped the region off the bottom end of the scale. As far as the country is concerned there is a 2000 million Euro fine hanging over the government’s head for the overall deficit situation.
How about corruption?
Corruption cases in Spain are part of everyday news items. A week doesn’t go by without yet another member of some political party or governing body being brought before the law courts on some grounds of corruption. All the left wing parties have been constantly harassing the present conservative government of Sr. Rajoy as a great deal of the cases are on his side of the fence. Valencia, ruled by the conservatives for over 20 years and now in the hands of Podemos is a case in point. However, once again the situation has backfired for the left leaning parties. Remember my essays months, if not years ago, regarding one of my favorite judges, Ms. Ayala down in Andalucía that had been pursuing one of the most notorious laundering scandals involving tax payers money by members of the governing Socialist Party (PSOE) and one of the mayor trade unions UGT? Several thousand million Euros were involved that were syphoned off into their pockets that were meant to be for training and other schemes for unemployed workers. It had been going on for years. Well, recent news is that the law has finally reached the top of the hierarchy. The District Attorney has summoned none other than two of the ex-presidents of the autonomous region, Sr. Griñon and Sr. Chavez. The latter was in office for over 20 years. This is a blow to the Socialist Party after they have continually condemned the conservatives for the same crimes.
Now the future.
Spain may not yet be in the UK, or European Union news, but I can assure you that they soon will be. If there is some sort of a government formed this second time round it will no doubt be a coalition. It could swing either way, a constitutional one based on the PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos or a cocktail from all sectors of the left wing that include every possible combination of political parties. If this latter occurs I predict a possible Yugoslavia situation as Podemos will no doubt predominate and they have more or less promised referendums for those regions that may seek independence. We’re not only talking about Catalonia, but also the Basque Country, Valencia, The Balearic Islands, Galicia and who knows, the Canary Islands as Grand Canary is now under the helm of Podemos. The scene has already been set since elections in town council and certain autonomous regions took place back in May of last year. The country has already been exposed to what lies ahead. We shall see dramatic changes that will delve into sectors from the social to the political, from economic to international, no stone will be left unturned or turned up, whichever way you put it. From now on Spain will never be the same.
By the way, Real Madrid beat Athletic Madrid for the European Champion’s cup. It was a superb and exciting finish. As one of my journalist friends who is from Madrid and favors Real said, ‘would not have been sad had Athletic won, after all it was the city that brought home the cup.’
June 14th Update:
The way things look, chances are that Unidos-Podemos (now 2nd in the polls) will somehow form part of the next government (The Barcelona affair is having an effect). I don't see a constitutional alliance between PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos that would be the only chance to continue on the long path of economic recovery. The alternative will certainly be a conglomerate of left wing and nationalists (Catalonia, the Basque country, Valencia and Galicia) that would lead to the following:
A. A communist government, not an extreme left as the media in Europe keep informing.
B. The eventual break up of Spain. Podemos has PROMISED a referendum for the main regions, Catalonia and The Basque Country.
This is my prediction and will be the outcome on the 26th, 3 days after the Brexit vote.
Can Europe cope with both situations?
What will the World Bank and the IMF do about it?
Are we facing (see France) a new serious revolt on the continent?
What would happen if there was a Jihad terrorist attack in the meantime as Kerry (USA) is warning?
To think that Spain's woes could have been avoided if the leader of the PSOE, Sr. Pedro Sanchez had not lambasted the present President (PP) Sr. Rajoy calling him personally 'indecent' (because of the corruption) in a televised debate before the General Elections back in 2015.
See you next month. Hopefully!
© James G. Skinner. June 2016.
*See the roots of the leftward leap in Spain. Could Spain go Marxist? written in 2005 by James Skinner
Back to the Voting Table in Spain
James Skinner 1.5.16
The shortest Parliament in Spain’s history has been dissolved. New General Elections are schedule for the 26th of June. It’s party time all over again.