Saturday, October 23, 2010

No sooner do I make a point about the importance of fiestas in Spain than I find in my mailbox an 8 page leaflet from our local council entitled “Fiestas Special”. Its sole purpose seems to be to remind us what a great time we all had last summer as a result of the council’s “important and indispensable investment”. Of our money. Mind you, I notice that the paper isn’t glossy. So they can’t be accused of not making economies.

Which reminds me . . . When I first came to Pontevedra around twelve years ago, there was no fiesta in September. Now, though, we have the Feria Franca (or medieval fair), which started small but is now huge. Five years ago, we had no fiesta in October. But next week sees the city’s version of the Munich Oktoberfest. Can’t wait to see what we’ll be having in November within a year or two. Crisis? What crisis?

For the vast majority of time, you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘Old Spain’ had disappeared completely. But then along comes some pillock who makes a macho comment that takes us back several decades. This time it’s the mayor of somewhere down south who made a lewd comment about one of the new female cabinet ministers. I wasn’t quite sure what his words meant but the graphic gesture of the barman I asked left little room for doubt. I can’t say I was surprised to see the mayor is a member of the right-of-centre PP party but I was a little taken aback to read he’s a gynaecologist. Illogical as that might be. I dread to think what his bedside manner is like.

The leader of said PP party is the deeply uncharismatic Pontevedran, Mario Rajoy, who’s so bad he ranks as the main electoral asset of the beleaguered president, Sr Zapatero. That aside, he came up with a nice response to the surprise government reshuffle of this week. Or, rather, his scriptwriters did – “”They’ve changed the musicians but not the conductor nor the score.” If you’d like to know more about this development and its implications, click here for Guy Hedgecoe’s informed overview in Qorreo. Essentially, while moving rightwards with his policies, Sr Zapatero has moved leftwards with his ministerial personnel. This appears to be an attempt to lure back disenchanted socialist voters, who currently look like staying away from next year’s urns in their droves. As Guy says, decisive but perhaps a little too late.

Incidentally, all the new members of the government were sworn in before a copy of the Spanish Constitution, a Bible and a crucifix. Which seems a little anachronistic and excessive even by God-ridden US standards. I wonder how many of them really are practising Catholics. I do fancy, though, that I’ve read that this mode of swearing your allegiance is not compulsory and that there’s at least one alternative. But I can’t recall what it is. I don’t suppose it involves Mephistopheles. Even if it would be more appropriate for some of them.

Here in Galicia, our government’s budget for 2011 is around 11% down on this year’s. The level of spend will, therefore, be around that for 2006. There will be screams of pain, of course, but I don’t recall anyone complaining back then that this wasn’t nearly enough. And we all got by somehow. Possibly with smaller fiestas.

Finally . . . It’s been announced that there’ll be a competition to decide between the governments of Portugal and Galicia as to which has been more inept in handling the issue of road and air travel in their respective bailiwicks. This, of course, follows the Portuguese government’s “third world” implementation of a decision to put tolls on all major roads in the north of the country, and the Galician government’s failure to reach an agreement with Ryanair so as to keep it flying into and out of our region. For what it’s worth, I believe the Xunta will finally realise all the cards are in the airline’s hands right now and beg it to return to the table. By which time, of course, the price will have gone up. And the policy of having three small airports which can be played off against each other will have been shown to be as strategically stupid as I’ve long said it is. But we will see.


Tailnote for new readers: The first nine  chapters of my daughter’s novel can now be read and/or downloaded in pdf form, for easy reading. It’s a “Fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalised Cuba, it’s being e-published at the rate of at least a couple of chapters a week. If this entices you, click here.

1 comment:

moscow said...

Colin,
Apparently - people say - Rajoy has got fixation that it is somehow his turn now. He seems to believe that like during the "Restauracion" period (not the British Restauration but similar in connotation) parties swap positions after one or two terms in office the way the "conservadores" and the "moderados" did between 1875 and 1923. During almost 50 years Spain had stable (sort of) government under a constitutional monarchy. Universal sufrage was enacted in 1890 (well before Britain, BTW). Mr. Sagasta and Mr. Canovas used to take turns as to who would govern the country in his majesty's name.
What it was not is real democracy and it all anyway came to an brupt end with the Primo de Rivera dictatorship (then came the 2nd Republic and then the civil war and then Paco the toad). It probably was as democatric as Britain around 1867. That is: not very much. And that is what Mr. Rajoy wants to go back to - the fool. Democracy is about unpredictability (Obama in 2008, Clegg in 2010, Zapatero in 2004). This thing about taking turns is anathema to democracy. And I still expect quite a few surprises from here to 2012 to come about.

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