Saturday, March 06, 2010

A new political party; News slants; Bull goading; and Tax avoidance.

This week Spain has seen the launch of its first Muslim political party - the Partido Renacimiento y Unión España. This, of course, results in the unfortunate acronym PRUNE, though this has no meaning in Spanish. Anyway, its intention is to contest municipal elections next year in Málaga, Madrid, Barcelona, Murcia, Valencia, Oviedo and Toledo on a manifesto of ‘justice, equality and solidarity’. For Muslims, presumably.

From time to time, I reflect on the fact that the UK is lucky to have a judicial system which is not visibly politicised. This is not to say that most British judges are not conservative with a small ‘c’ but this is almost inevitable, I suspect, as they're appointed by themselves. I’m aware that a great deal of politics surrounds appointments to the Supreme Court in the USA but I wonder whether things anywhere else in the world approach the level they do here. Today, for example, the leading right-of-centre paper, El Mundo, weighs into Spain’s famous judge Baltasar Garzón - in its lead editorial - on the grounds he’s moved from megalomania to paranoia, attacking the paper and some of his fellow judges along the way. All in all, not a very edifying sight.

If you watch French TV news, there’s an awful lot of stuff about obscure ex-colonies in Africa. British news, of course, gives you a lot more information on, say, Pakistan, than you’d get in the Spanish press. And the latter naturally goes in for South America. All of which raises the question – If these places aren’t terribly interesting to the rest of the world, why are they still important to the ex-colonial rulers? Habit, I guess.

Bullfighting in Cataluña – My blogger mate Trevor is on excellent, less-gnomic-than-usual form on La Espe over at Kalebeul. I’ll let you know when Graeme of South of Watford goes on the attack. Bloody 'ell, he was even quicker off the mark than I expected. Click here.

Incidentally, a couple more of Spain’s regional governments – right-of-centre, of course – have joined the chorus demanding that bullfighting be made part of Spain’s national heritage. Plus bull-running and, I suspect, the barbaric bull-sticking fiestas as well. What next? Church towers plus donkeys, goats and assorted fowl species? I suspect nothing could be more effective in further damaging Spain’s battered image than all this playing of the nationalist card. But worrying about this sort of thing – witness the property abuse scandals – is not something to which much priority is given here in Spain. Which is rather ironic, as the Spanish seem rather obsessed with what other nations think about them. And then in disagreeing forcibly and volubly with any criticisms.

Finally . . . Now that times are tough, the Spanish government has decided to try to do something about the massive avoidance of taxes in a ‘submerged economy’ now said to represent 25% of the official one. Rather belatedly, the Taxation and Social Security Ministries have decided to talk to each other and to compare notes. If they can find them.

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