In a manner of speaking

IRENE MONTERO: The ‘portavoza’ of Podemos. IRENE MONTERO: The ‘portavoza’ of Podemos.

PODEMOS leader Pablo Iglesias and his girlfriend Irene Montero, who is also the party spokeswoman, want to use ‘la portavoza’ instead of ‘la portavoz’ which means nothing other than spokeswoman.

What’s more Adriana Lastra, a PSOE spokeswoman, agreed with Montero and is happy to use it, she said.

Portavoz is one of those nice Spanish words that can be preceded by el or la depending on whether it describes a male or female. You could say it was gender-neutral, which should keep everybody happy.

Unfortunately portavoza could be here to stay because politicians increasingly feel the need to refer to both genders, which makes for some very clunky speechmaking and irritates more people than it pleases.

But it’s not going to close the male-female pay gap, which is where Montero and Lastra should be investing their energies instead of splitting semantic hairs.

Interestingly, no-one has asked the Podemos spokeswoman if she intends to change her surname to Montera.

 Up, up and away

THE polls show Ciudadanos taking the lead again, ahead of the governing Partido Popular (PP) and the PSOE.

With regional and municipal elections only a year away, the government has agreed that something must be done to clip Albert Rivera’s wings. The PP barons have their own ideas about how to do this but are afraid to tell Rajoy. And no wonder. The best and least conflictive way to stop Rivera from flying up, up and away is by grounding and replacing Mariano Rajoy.

Telling him so is regarded inside the party as heresy but 60 per cent of PP voters have told pollsters that they think Rajoy should go. If the faithful are deserting him now, how can the party ever hope to recruit non-believers?

 The icing on the cake

SPAIN’S Economy Minister Luis de Guindos hopes to become vice-president of the European Central Bank.

Inside Spain there was criticism because he announced his candidacy but hasn’t yet handed in the boxy briefcases that are the Spanish government’s equivalent of a despatch box.

There should be a respectable hiatus between both jobs, it’s claimed.

That’s inside Spain. Outside, it’s a different story because there is uneasiness about his past with Lehman Brothers.

Remember Lehman Brothers? The economic crisis was already looming in 2008 but the bank’s collapse brought it into focus while Luis de Guindos was its European adviser and director of Lehman’s subsidiary in Spain and Portugal.

And oh yes, just to make things really kosher and put the icing on the cake, De Guindos belongs to Opus Dei, too.

A rose by any other name

IT’S said that a resigned Mariano Rajoy would allow Carles Puigdemont, currently skulking in Waterloo, to receive an honorary designation from Cataluña’s pro-independence parliament. This would be acceptable so long as he receives no public money and possesses no administrative powers, Madrid has hinted.

Two months after the regional elections, Cataluña still does not have a government because the pro-independence parties whose combined majority allows them to call the shots, wanted Puigdemont as president. It must be him or no-one, they threatened, so the Madrid compromise would be one way of investing someone - possibly Elsa Artadi - so that Cataluña finally has a semblance of a government.

Although with Puigdemont as a string puller and an acknowledged presence in Belgium there would be no change in secessionist ambitions and this particular remedy could turn out to be worse than the disease.

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