“La peor crisis de la democracia española”.
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Financial Times consagra hoy un editorial y una crónica a las crisis españolas, con unos argumentos que abundan en mi propia percepción de las crisis:
“Que estallan cuando la población sufre un paro excepcional, con medidas de austeridad sin precedentes y un rosario de escándalos a repetición”.
“Crisis política que afecta a todas las instituciones, tocadas por la podredumbre”.
“Rajoy y sus colegas deben demostrar que las denuncias son falsas”.
“Si las acusaciones son exactas, el PP tendrá que explicar de donde llegaba su financiación”.
“Falta de alternativas populares, electorales”.
“Fragil y dividida oposición socialista”.
“A pesar de su profunda caída, el PP todavía está por delante del PSOE”.
“La falta de alternativas impide que la cólera popular se transforme en cambio político”… Alternativas a Mariano Rajoy.
“Goya, España y sus asnos filantrópicos”, “España y el gobierno de los asnos”… digo en España, una temporada en el infierno.
Rajoy in crisis
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, faces the fight of his life as allegations of a secret slush fund engulf his party and government. This bombshell could hardly have detonated at a worse time, with a population facing record unemployment and unprecedented austerity, and already infuriated by a string of corruption scandals.
The government needs to get to the bottom of these, so far, unproven claims if it is to survive.
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That means this cannot become yet another kickbacks case – allegedly provided in this instance by construction companies – gathering dust in the notoriously slow Spanish courts. It will certainly not be enough for the party to award itself a clean bill of health, as it did on Saturday after a cursory internal inquiry.
Mr Rajoy and his colleagues now intend to publish their tax declarations for the relevant period, although that may not disprove there were secret cash payments. But there is an urgent case to answer in the court of public opinion, if the PP government is to put this scandal behind it.
Spain is still fighting its way through the most wrenching economic crisis of the democratic era, at a time when nearly all its institutions, from the monarchy to the judiciary, exhibit signs of rot. There must be a full, transparent and independent investigation of the alleged Bárcenas accounts. Neither the government nor the country can afford anything less. [ .. ] Financial Times, 4 febrero 2013, Rajoy un crisis].
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Anger rises as scandal rocks Rajoy
By Tobias Buck in Madrid
Mariano Rajoy waited more than two days to comment on the slush fund scandal threatening to engulf both the Spanish prime minister and his Popular party. When the denial finally came, it was firm and unequivocal. “Never, I repeat never, did I receive or hand out black money, not in this party nor anywhere else,” Mr Rajoy declared over the weekend.
Until recently, many of his countrymen would have been inclined to believe him.
Spaniards typically describe their leader as dull but honest – a politician whose taste for austerity extends from his fiscal policy to his private life. Reminding Spanish voters of his decision to drop a lucrative career as a property notary decades ago, Mr Rajoy said on Saturday: “I didn’t enter politics to make money. I entered politics losing money.”
His assurances, however, did nothing to silence the rising popular anger over alleged secret payments to senior members of Mr Rajoy’s centre-right Popular party, which has been rocked by a stream of embarrassing revelations over the past days. Hours after he spoke, riot police cordoned off the streets around the PP headquarters in central Madrid in preparation for the latest in a wave of small but widespread demonstrations against political corruption.
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The revelations raise two crucial questions – both of which could prove deeply embarrassing for Mr Rajoy.
The first concerns the payments allegedly made to him and other PP leaders. Mr Rajoy and his colleagues will be under pressure to show that the entries made by Mr Bárcenas are either false, or that they reflected their normal pay and benefits package, and were declared as such to the Spanish tax authorities.
The second key problem – again assuming the books are genuine – concerns the people and companies that allegedly contributed to the fund in the first place. The PP may be forced to explain where exactly the money came from, what was promised in return, and whether the donations were collected and handled in compliance with party funding rules. Though Mr Rajoy himself was not the treasurer, he did preside over the party for many years in which the fund was allegedly in operation.
Analysts point out that the scandal has undermined the credibility of the Rajoy government at a time when public trust in key institutions of the state is already in steep decline. The prolonged and painful economic crisis has shaken the faith in the country’s political and business elite, while a series of scandals has undermined support for both the monarchy and the judiciary.
For all the popular anger, however, few observers detect an immediate threat to Mr Rajoy and his government – not least because of the lack of popular alternatives.
The opposition Socialist party, in particular, is weak and struggling for direction; despite the sharp drop in support for the PP, Mr Rajoy’s party is still ahead of the main opposition group. Remarkably, his own personal ratings are also better than those of Alfredo Rubalcaba, the Socialist leader.
Spanish prosecutors may or may not eventually be able to prove wrongdoing – but any such decision is likely to be some years away. Foreign investors, meanwhile, have recently turned more positive on the Spanish economy, and have so far shown no sign of revising their judgment in the light of political scandals.
“It will be a tough ride for them but I don’t see the government coming down so easily,” says José Ignacio Torreblanca, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Madrid.
He argues that the lack of political alternatives has made it hard to channel popular anger into political change.
“There is a strong disconnect between society and politics. People are basically fed up, but they are also unable to express themselves in a way that would change things. They already went out so many times [since the start of the economic crisis], but nothing happened.” [ .. ] Financial Times, 3 / 4 febrero 2013, Anger rises as scandal rocks Rajoy.
Las negritas son mías.