Monday, 3 March 2008

FT: PP still has Francoist roots

The FT has published an editorial on the Spanish elections. The PP don't come out very well.

I copy and paste the full text:

Spain’s choice
Published: March 2 2008 18:43 Last updated: March 2 2008 18:43

Spain’s general election campaign, now reaching its climax, has been a dispiriting spectacle. Against the background of an economy weakened by the end of cheap credit and a sharp property market correction, the contenders seem to be trying to bribe or frighten Spanish voters.

That is odd. Spain in the past three decades has become a confident and prosperous democracy. For the first time, wealth has spread throughout what for centuries had been an unevenly developed country, where it had developed at all. If all you did was listen to Spanish politicians, you probably would not guess that.

Spain’s public life has become very polarised. The rightwing opposition Partido Popular, in power for eight years after a 14-year Socialist reign, remains unreconciled to losing the past election, in the wake of the March 2004 Madrid train bombings by north African jihadis.

Instead of acting as a parliamentary opposition, the PP has tried to impugn constitutionally major initiatives of the Socialists, in an effort to paralyse government. Mariano Rajoy, its lacklustre leader, has failed to emerge from the shadow of José María Aznar, the former prime minister, and has colluded in a hysterical campaign by the Catholic hierarchy that calls into question the legitimacy of the government.

José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the prime minister, has been uninspiring. His social policy has aimed at creating a tolerant and decent society. He managed the macroeconomy competently but did little to address structural weaknesses such as low productivity growth, a weak technology base and a huge current account deficit. He has been self-congratulatory on economic prospects, just as he was overconfident about reaching a peace settlement with the Basque separatists of Eta.

The PP has used these negotiations as a stick to beat the government, part of an attempt to conjure up a caricature of a Spain disintegrating as Basques and Catalans demand ever more devolved power.

Mr Aznar also negotiated with Eta, and allied with regional forces, just like the Socialists – as whoever wins next Sunday may well have to do. The PP’s problem is that its current leaders have not completed their journey from Francoist roots to a modern centre-right.

Revealingly, the PP is placing its hopes of victory on Socialist voters staying home; Mr Aznar’s attempt to paint the 2004 Madrid bombings as the work of Eta, despite evidence it was carried out by jihadis, was worth 3m extra votes to Mr Zapatero. It is equally revealing that the Socialists do not appear confident they still have them.


That's what I call a severe corrective:

"The PP’s problem is that its current leaders have not completed their journey from Francoist roots to a modern centre-right."

It is interesting to note that the expats anti-Catalan and rabid cheerleaders of the PP have kept quiet about this one...

Democracy in action: self-determination

There is plenty of media coverage about the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo.

It is not surprising how Spain has aligned itself with those models of democracy: Russia and Serbia.

Spanish politicians are at pains to stress that Catalonia and the Basque Country are different cases and that Kosovo is a one off. I am old enough to remember that the same people said exactly the same after the independence of the Baltic Republics or the new Balkan states.

Independence is won by exercising the democratic right self-determination. Apart from the former Czechoslovakia, I cannot think of any stateless nation that won independence by mutual agreement. According to some, self-determination is the prerogative of the occupying or master power. Their lack of democratic credentials is obvious for all to see.

Kosovo, like Croatia or Lithuania or Latvia won their independence status by exercising their democratic right of self-determination: democracy in action.

Let’s hope that Catalonia will one day join the community of nations and become another state within the European Union, by exercising the right of self-determination in a free and democratic manner and without Spanish anti-democratic interference.