Benidorm’s confusing candidates


SPANISH politics is nothing if not colourful, and one has to admit that next to local government in the UK, the equivalent here in Spain is in entertainment terms like comparing the test card to a Bruce Willis film. One particular fashion here in Spain is for politicians to be voted in on one ticket, only to then dash across the chamber and join the opposition.

Until now the most publicised of these was when the current Mayor of Benidorm, Agustin Navarro, did exactly that by leaving the Partido Popular (Tories) to move in with the PSOE (Labour). He has been the subject of predictable vitriol from his former party ever since, and on a moral level at least this turncoat behaviour can perhaps be condemned as it is not a matter of politics but simple loyalty that is being brought into question. This is the case in whichever direction the defector is travelling.


Matters became so bad here that an accord was reached in 1999 between the mains parties were they agreed not to accept politicians who entered this practice. It was becoming hard to keep track of who belonged to which party, as barely a week went by without some defection. Things got incredibly confusing. But again, and predictably, no party has since said “non” to any waverer from the opposition who asked to join them. The incessant defections between the parties make for much bustling and barging as former rivals pass each other on route to sit with their new chums. Some 30 local mayors have hopped the fence in such fashion in recent years.

Things took an even more interesting twist last week when Gema Amor, who was the President of the PP in Benidorm, abruptly got up and left. But rather than adopting the normal practice of crossing the chamber to join the opposition, she confused everyone even more by setting up her own party, calling it the Centro Democratico Liberal, just in time to fight the up and coming elections on May 22. Ms Amor had been with the PP for 18 years and the split is the largest ever in the party in the Valencia region.

Ms Amor left the party 18 months after a motion of no confidence in the town saw the PSOE, with the support of the (another?) PP defector, José Bañuls, see the then PP Mayor, Manuel Pérez Fenoll, removed from power. A similar switch took place back in 1991 when Eduardo Zaplana obtained power from the Socialists, again with the help of a defector. Following?

With the rich language of scorned politicians Gema Amor has now accused her former boss, the PP leader in the Valencia region, Francisco Camps, of ‘Mafioso practices’. Marvellous.

The PP candidate for Mayor on May 22 is once again the recently ousted and still smarting Sr Manuel Pérez Fenoll, who has now described his ex colleague Gema Amor as ‘history’. All great stuff. Why can’t British local elections be as much fun? Birmingham South was never like his.




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