Monday, October 30, 2006

Crusades, Conspiracies and Cockroaches

Although resident, I am officially a foreigner and hence not entitled to vote in the Spanish parliamentary elections. Being the outsider also means that I am thankfully not burdened or conditioned by family politics or prejudices that would influence my political predilections. However despite the luxury of impartial analysis I still find myself only ever capable of loathing El Partido Popular (PP). In fact given this unplanned bias I have at times been quite paranoid that I have become too blinkered as regards whose carefully crafted spin I choose to listen to. I have therefore often genuinely tried to give better consideration to the voices of the PP, but sadly they manage to leave me each time more exasperated by their pitiful conduct.

My first experience of EL Partido Popular was in 2002 when they were safely in power with an absolute majority. It was late in that same year that the Prestige Oil Tanker sank off the Galician coast. The breaking up of the said vessel on high seas amounted to nothing short of an environmental catastrophe in which every link in the chain of command failed in their respective responsibilities to avert the disaster. As I later saw it, the Partido Popular became the unwitting scapegoat for something in which there was a collective failure by all involved, not just the Government. However the PP character shone through when they refused to publish the results of the subsequent investigation and furthermore repeatedly denied their undisputable roll in the fiasco.

It was only a short time later that Aznar gave his unequivocal support for the invasion of Iraq. Setting aside my personal stance with regard to the military campaign itself, I was most bewildered to see the leader of a democratic Government refuse to debate in congress the subject of his use of Spanish Military. To my mind this amounted to spitting in the face of a young, immature and insecure democracy. It is my firm belief that be they for or against war, majority or minority, an electorate deserve to be taken heed of and acknowledged by those who ostensibly represent them. This should especially apply when over 90% of the electorate is of the one opposing opinion. Of course while it is all now in the past with Spanish troops since withdrawn, I mention the episode as it perfectly sums up the recurring arrogance that has unfortunately proved to be the perpetual hallmark of the PP personality.

More than a year subsequent to Aznar’s personal pledge of support for George Bush’s “Chemical Weapon Hunt”, Madrid lived it’s darkest moment with the 11-M terrorist attacks that caused 209 deaths and left countless others maimed for life. The horrific tragedy occurred only three days before the general election when opinions polls were still suggesting yet another landslide victory for the PP. This however was not to be the case with the socialist PSOE being pushed to victory in a sudden and dramatic swing in public opinion. The terrorist attacks certainly did influence the final election outcome but having said that it is not the case that the electorate gave in to Islamist terrorists or that the populace fled to the pacifist arms of the left leaning opposition. Instead the voting public, many mobilised for the first time in almost ten years, exercised their democratic right to an alternative government, thus objecting to the insensitive lies and recurrent self-serving spin of the then governing party .

Having clearly acted wrongly the Government paid the commensurate price. Their narrow election strategy of “being hard on ETA” meant that if they were to hold on to power the only possible angle to be taken in the 11-M aftermath was to continue to point the finger at Basque Separatists, even if this required deceiving a public who were in a state of nervous shock. Aznar accordingly convened a war council that curiously excluded all political opposition as well as the national intelligence agency. Meanwhile his ministers remained insistent on the culpability of ETA despite the fact that Al-Qaida was now openly claiming responsibility for the attacks. Indeed not only was ETA denying involvement but increasing evidence made Basque complicity ever less likely with the bombings bearing no resemblance to their litany of strikes.

The Partido Popular is now deservedly relegated to the cold opposition benches. Stubbornness and arrogance prevent them from admitting their errors and they now cheekily accuse a new Government of falsifying evidence and manipulating reports concerning 11-M. In fact rather than rebuilding their party and working towards a more glorious future, 11-M conspiracy theories remain at the very top of their political agenda. Ex-President Jose Maria Aznar may be long gone from Parliament but he and those remaining in politics show no shame as they continue without basis to insinuate an ETA roll as the “intellectual authors of the attacks”. This has recently reached an all time low when the PP stated that the tracing of a boric acid common to AL-Qaida lodgings and an ETA safe house proved to be the missing link between the two organisations. It did not matter to them that the chemical in question is not listed as a bomb-making ingredient by any intelligence agency in the world. In fact the most common use for the said chemical is for killing COCKROACHES. Understandably therefore, Acebes, Aznar and Zaplana remain the faces of the worst betrayal in modern Spanish History.

However the sorry conduct of the PP is not at all limited to clearing their sorry names. Only recently on the return of the vice president from a trip to Africa where she admirably donned the traditional dress of the tribe she was visiting, Eduardo Zaplana of the PP had the indecency and to stand up in congress and ask if someday she would also like to “dress up” as a Vice President. This exactly is the thuggish mentality that permeates through all facets of the PP body politic. In opposition they have incredulously voted against a new law for a mandatory “Parliamentary Vote” before any future uses of the Army and have also militantly opposed plans to put all religions on an equal footing in the Spanish education system. Furthermore during the highly polemic Gay Marriages bill, instead of simply opposing the legislation in a noble and skilled fashion (which they are perfectly entitled to do), the Partido Popular produced “experts” who claimed that all homosexuals are "SICK INDIVIDUALS" who required medical treatment.

Moreover the current President, Jose Luis Zapatero, is the first leader of Parliament to have his attempts at brokering a peace deal with ETA challenged. The PP staunchly opposes the parliamentary motion giving Zapatero the green light to enter into talks with ETA “on the condition that they first abandon their activities of violence”. Without exception, all of Zapatero’s democratic predecessors, including Aznar himself, have made overtures to ETA regarding sustainable peace. Each of these occasions enjoyed the notable support of all other political parties. This time however the Partido Popular hypocritically demonstrate against the latest efforts on the streets of Madrid. The PP has labelled the Government policy as ”Surrender to Terrorists” and a “betrayal of the victims”, while rhetorically calling for a complete crushing of ETA.

I cannot help but see the Partido Popular as a group of people who not only lack of respect but who are also completely devoid of any human decency. I view the leader Mariano Rajoy and the rest of his cronies as a crowd of gangsters who will stop at nothing to gain power, be it incite hatred and homophobia, lie to a mourning nation in the wake of catastrophe, insult foreign cultures or of course obstruct bona fide peace efforts. I consider them a great danger to Spanish society and can only hope that the party undergo considerable reformation before they once again inhabit the Moncloa Presidential Palace.

No comments: