CASSANDRA NASH

A weekly look

- and not entirely impartial reaction -
to the Spanish political scene

PIGS aren’t yet flying in the UK but closer inspections suggest that they are sprouting wings. Teresa May lost her overall majority and Jeremy Corbyn, darling of the Labour Party membership but not the Parliamentary Labour Party, scooped up the biggest share of the vote since Tony Blair. No doubt…
MANUELA CARMENA, mayor of Madrid, recently received the parents of Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner in Venezuela. In doing so, she has distanced herself from Podemos whose votes put her in City Hall, because Pablo Iglesias and the party hierarchy are close to Venezuela. Formerly wellpaid assessors to Hugo Chavez…
METROSCOPIA and CIS opinion polls found that support for independence inside Cataluña is at its lowest since rumblings were first heard years ago. Both the national government and Cataluña are deadlocked because the only thing that can settle the issue once and for all is a referendum. There is no…
CATALAN president Carles Puigdemont announced that if Cataluña cannot have a referendum it will declare independence anyway. If he and his government had a clear mandate they might be forgiven for assuming that all Catalans coincide with their own hunger and thirst for independence. But as the now defunct CiU…
NO surprises, then. Pedro Sanchez, long the darling of PSOE’s paid up membership - the militants according to Spanish usage for card-carriers - is once again party secretary general. To be strictly accurate he was the darling of only 50 per cent of them, receiving 74,223 votes from the 187,949…
IT’S best to be cautious when referring to Gibraltar because someone somewhere will always be offended, if not downright outraged. But it’s worth mentioning that Brussels has agreed to a Spanish veto on any agreements that involve Gibraltar during Brexit negotiations. Coming while Spain was making Gibraltar noises in the…
OF course Pablo Iglesias and Podemos want a vote of no confidence in Mariano Rajoy and his party. Proving how reasonable he was, Iglesias emphasised that he would raise no problems regarding an alternative candidate put forward by either the PSOE socialists or the ‘C’s,’ the centrists. “The candidate isn’t…
INSIDERS now doubt that Esperanza Aguirre will ever hold a prominent position again in the Partido Popular. One thing is certain: Spain’s president and PP leader Mariano Rajoy is unlikely to stick his neck out for Aguirre as he did for the late Rita Barbera. Aguirre challenged Rajoy’s leadership after…
HOLY WEEK shows Spain at its most quaintly religious with processions, hooded penitents and outpourings of devotion as statues are hauled through the streets. The rest of the year churches are sparsely occupied except for births, marriages, first communions or funerals, and Spain’s hierarchy is hitting out. “Secularism threatens religious…
THERE was discussion between Washington and the US ambassador to Madrid regarding Carme Chacon’s appointment as Defence minister in 2008. Minister of Housing until then, she was 39 and pregnant but Eduardo Aguirre commented that although young and inexperienced “she should not be underestimated.” Spanish president Jose Luis Zapatero regarded…
THERESA MAY’S ‘dear John’ letter to Brussels activating Article 50 and Brexit was achingly polite. But May did not get off to the best of starts as every member of the remaining EU family homed in on a barelyveiled warning about cooperation on security and terrorism and compared it to…
THE frugal will ever suspect flamboyant spendthrifts and Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem accused Spain of squandering Brussels money on “wine and women.” Speaking in the national parliament Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera agreed that money was wasted, but it went on corruption, empty motorways and closed airports. Admittedly, the population once…
CARLES PUIGDEMONT, Cataluña’s regional president and its vice-president Oriol Junqueras, recently co-authored a ponderous article in El Pais. It was entitled ‘Let dialogue win and the ballot-box decide.’ Both launched into their independence spiel and plaintively asked why, if the British government and Scotland could hold a referendum, Spain can’t.…
PEDRO SANCHEZ’S “No means no” has metamorphosed into “Yes means yes.” If it weren’t somewhat overworked, the former PSOE secretary general would probably appropriate Obama’s “Yes we can” too. Sanchez aims to restore the party’s fortunes by beating off his rivals in the May primaries to return to the post…
ONLY paid-up Podemos members have much time for the party’s secretary general Pablo Iglesias. Given the way the political parties are organised, they have the last word even though sidelined Iñigo Errejon is preferred by Podemos-inclined voters. Almost 43 per cent would have voted for Errejon had they participated in…
FOR a politician who was so often wrong, Artur Mas, ex-regional president of Cataluña, finally got it right. There is an alternative to Catalan independence, he said, but the State must come up with it. Of course Mas is no longer president after a sequence of early elections that ran…
MARIANO RAJOY’S phone conversation with Donald Trump was called his Azores Moment. The offer by Spain’s president to act as Trump’s mediator with Latin America was considered as unnecessary and servile as Spain’s ex-president Jose Maria Aznar decision to sign up for the Iraq war in 2003. The moment was…
INDEPENDENCE-OBSESSED Artur Mas was a noisy and ineffective president of Cataluña. His party’s majority shrank during a series of snap elections called to buttress the independence cause and the last in 2015, planned as a plebiscite, was a fiasco. The CDC had to embrace the anti-system CUP party in order…
ALBERTO GARZON is the leader of what remains of Spain’s defunct Communist party, Izquierda Unida. He protested recently at “intolerable” criticism of IU from some sectors of Podemos. There is a patent lack of respect for IU and the party is constantly belittled, Garzon said. He complained with good reason,…
PODEMOS was in the right place at the right time. It grew from discontent crystallised by the 15-M movement when thousands occupied Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. “They call it democracy but it’s not,” they chanted as they mistakenly equated democracy with prosperity, a forgivable misconception as the two often go…

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