Spain: A Replica of Ali Baba and the Countless Thieves?


Europe is seeing a revival of right-winged parties in part due to the effects of the recent financial and sovereign-debt crisis but unlike others, Spain’s right is excruciatingly corrupt, chauvinist, incoherent and incompetent. As a Spaniard, I love my country but I cannot help feeling ashamed by its institutions. Spain’s political caste, especially that of its two main parties, PSOE (Spanish working class socialist party) or “pseudo-socialists” and PP (People’s Party) or “party of the elite”, has degraded so much that our own minister of culture does not have the courage to attend The Goyas (Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars) fearing the jeering crowds which seem to follow him wherever he makes a public appearance.

Spain’s corruption is most apparent in its infrastructures. Spaniards have a choice of over 50 airports of which only 3 make a profit. The big majority receive a few (subsidised) flights a week with one even averaging less than a passenger a day (Huesca airport). Another display of political prowess is a very extensive high-speed train network – AVE – second only to China’s, erected by the delusional dream of connecting every provincial capital to Madrid in less than four hours. No worries if at times the trains run at 6% of capacity or if a stop used by 328 passengers a year costs 7,2 million euros to build, AVEs are the perfect place for a relaxing cup of “café con leche”. If you’re not content with this you can always bring it up with Madrid’s unelected mayor – democracy is sometimes too mainstream for Spanish politicians.

The People’s Party (PP) is also very imaginative when it comes to financing itself. Luis Barcenas, treasurer for arguably 4 years since he was still being paid despite his resignation – does that sound like bribery? – held various Swiss bank accounts with more than €20m. Barcenas has also admitted to paying out illegal bonuses from a secret slush fund for the party’s leadership. Is it a coincidence that most of these came from large employers mostly related to real estate? Probably not. Meanwhile, the chief of police, Jose Losada, in charge of investigating Mr. Barcenas has been dismissed. However, the party’s and Spain’s president, Mariano Rajoy, has assured the people that “everything the press publishes is false, with a few exceptions”. The PP has also carried out an internal audit that has found no malpractices. I will write this again, internal audit. The main private consultancies denied their services due to the restrictions imposed by the party.

The lack of ethics of these politicians must also be highlighted. The secretary general, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, assured the Spanish electorate that if someone from her own party held money in Swiss accounts then she would have to resign. At the same time, Mr. Rajoy texted Barcenas, who was already pending, trail, encouraging him to be strong and telling him that the party was doing everything possible to help him. In what seems to be a fight for the biggest scandal, the PSOE’s gauche-caviar in the south has been allegedly stealing money from a money fund that was meant to finance redundancy payments for struggling businesses. Meanwhile, in the north, a few mayors have been caught smuggling hoards of cash into Andorra. Mr. Miguel Bernad, part of Manos Limpias, a far-right movement denouncing corruption scandals in Spain, stated the following in an interview with the Financial Times, “in Spain the prosecutors are completely politicised. They depend entirely on the ministry of justice, and they only go after cases that are politically convenient to the government of the day… We live in a country in which the institutions don’t function. There is no separation of power…a totally corrupt country” in which “the system allows corruption because the system itself is corrupt”.

The biggest joke of them all came when Mariano Rajoy justified the newly created abortion laws, which take us back a few decades, as complying with their electoral promises. Never mind the 99 other promises that haven’t been kept, such as not increasing taxes, not trimming pension funds, not rescuing the banks, not having a fiscal amnesty and an infinite etcetera. It is clear that this party is ruling by ideology and one could claim that not even, it’s more by convenience, because a (neo) liberal ideology as advocated by Friedman or Hayek would have never allowed rescuing an ailing financial system. In addition, the Council of Europe has termed the austerity measures imposed in Spain as “degrading to human rights” as well as bringing up the increasing violence the police is using against demonstrators. This country needs a strong, honest right that can proudly advocate its principles and ethics instead of an opportunistic band of thieves that rule by (ideological) decree.

Sacha Paneda.


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