Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Well, the Spanish national comic opera has entered its 3rd Act, with the resignation of the Minister of Justice. Some say this is because of his general incompetence but others see it as a success for the Opposition’s strategy of attacking the judge for his lack of objectivity in respect of corruption charges against businessmen close to the party. Then there was the – apparently fatal - issue of the minister’s illegal hunting a weekend or two ago, which even his own party found hard to defend. It’ll be interesting to see whether, with voting less than a week away, all this impacts on the government’s narrow lead in both the Basque and Galician regional elections.

Just when I admit there’s a growing possibility the EU will get its crisis-response act together, our friend Ambrose Evans-Pritchard weighs in with two articles [here and here] which claim there’s mutiny in the air. But I guess there’s a chance this will actually increase the odds in favour of a solution/compromise acceptable to all 27 states. Or at least to those in the eurozone.

Incidentally, the error-riddled version of the first of these articles available at 7am UK time suggests that, if the DT really is paying Australians to proof-read copy, they’re wasting their money.

As for Spain’s crisis and how it happened, here’s a translation of a major El País analysis, courtesy of Edward Harrison, via Charles Butler at Ibex Salad. Charles himself has one or two pertinent observations. As for mine, if I crawled through my posts of the past few years, I suspect I could find something very similar to this apt observation from El País -The Spanish economic miracle was a mirage. Except that I – and others, of course - was saying this before it evaporated. It’s because it was so bloody obvious that I find it astonishing the current government has got clean away with doing nothing to take the heat out of it and failing to address Spain’s underlying structural problems. At least over in the UK, Gordon Brown stands no chance of leading his party to victory in next year’s general elections. And, meanwhile, he faces another wipe-out in the European elections. Which is exactly how things should be. But perhaps the situation here will start to turn next Sunday.

Which is a good enough lead into the Galician elections. On these, I’ve [again?] noticed how ad hominem everything is. The 'positive' party ads and hoardings portray the leaders as men of stature. And the negative ones seem merely to seek to undermine the standing of the alternative candidates for the position of King Rat. So, for example, the leader of the PP is featured as a ventriloquist’s doll on the knee of the octogenarian ex President, Manuel Fraga. Does all this, I wonder, play to some residual Spanish [Galician?] need, deep in their psyche, to believe in strong men. Caudillos, even. Probably not.

Well, I returned to the scene of my parking offence today and what did I find but two motorcycle cops putting tickets on the cars of three more victims. When I asked one of them where the sign was, he pointed to two of them outside the square, though admittedly just before you enter it. When I asked him if these were new, he said they’d been up for two years. I didn’t ask whether he and his colleague were now on commission. Anyway, here are the signs. If you only speak Spanish, you won’t know that agas is Gallego for solo. Obviously.

After taking these pix and writing the above paragraph, I read in a local paper that there’s a police campaign against illegal parking running until early March. After which I guess we can all return to normal. This ambiguity about rules and the general arbitrariness of life here does rather remind me of both the Middle and Far East. Which is not to say the Spanish aren’t lovely people and that Spain isn’t a great place to live. Just different. Swing and roundabouts.


Anonymous said...

Mr Davies, you writes "This ambiguity about rules and the general arbitrariness of life here does rather remind me of both the Middle and Far East. Which is not to say the Spanish aren’t lovely people and that Spain isn’t a great place to live. Just different."

So, says I, Why comparing the arbitrariness of life in Spain to that of the Middle and the Far East should make anyone doubt of how lovely Spaniards are? Are people in Asian countries not lovely people? Do people think that? What people? Spaniards? British?

Is that another of your prejudiced comments, by assuming that certain people (Spaniards or perhaps Brits, dunno) are racist and will doubt of the goodness of certain Asian people?

Or is it yourself, Mr Davies, who thinks that certain Asian people aren't as lovely as the Spaniards? Isn't that a racist comment?

But perhaps this is only me, wanting to hear my own voice and not trying to debate to demonstrate how biased and prejudiced you are ... perhaps your chorus of (hundreds if not thousands) sycophants will think the same, too ...

You want to debate, Mr Davies? Aren't you a racist, Mr Davies? No? Let's debate them.

ANA said...

I really enjoy this blog. It is one of two that I read. It's funny, observant,and informative. Throughout the week I am often found uttering the words 'Thoughts from Galicia reckons...' or pointing out something funny or similar to what we see or experience here or there depending where we are to my friends or partner.Just thought I'd let you know.

Colin said...

Many thanks, Ana. Much appreciated.

Sierra said...

I can sympathise regarding the road signs - drove into a traffic "honeytrap" in Vigo last week. You come up to a sign saying residents only, so you turn right into - a bus lane!! Then in trying to escape that you turn into another. So I think I'm in for the double whammy.

Sierra said...

Further to your post on Monday, I found the following:


"The project being constructed for the Fundación Cidade da Cultura de Galicia began construction in 2001-2002 with an initial budget of €109m, which has now trebled."

Seeing the complexity, I'm surprised it has only trebled. The buildings cover a larger area than the Alhambra

At least they've found a home for all those newspapers in Galicia - in the Library and Newspaper Archive

Midnight Golfer said...

Having grown up in both D.C. and California, I learned from a young age to enjoy politics as just another one of The Performing Arts
(just with less attractive players.)