Friday, October 13, 2006

Bono Bows Out

Well that was close. For a couple of days this week it looked as if my worst fears about the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) candidate for mayor of Madrid were about to be realised. The Napoleon of La Mancha, Jose Bono, toyed so much with the idea of standing that his party leadership more or less assumed he was going to accept. Then, when he announced his decision not to stand, the party was left once again without a candidate, and looking a bit silly for having assumed that it was more or less a done deal. Bono’s public reasons for rejecting the position are that he has only recently left the government and that he has no desire (yet) to return to political life.

Jose Bono

The possibility of him being the candidate did create the prospect of an interesting contest between him and the current mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón (of the Partido Popular). Most interesting would have been seeing the number of voters in both major parties switching to the candidate on the other side, as ideologically there is very little separating the two men. Gallardón is now hated by the hard right faction calling the shots at the moment in the PP, and Bono is the most visible face of the right-wing in the PSOE, on certain issues it’s even possible that Gallardón is to the left of Bono. So many PSOE supporters were dreading the prospect of a Bono candidacy, as well as being resentful of the way in which a candidate was being imposed on the Madrid party by the national leadership. Meanwhile, some PP supporters would perhaps have been tempted to vote for Bono as a means of showing their dislike for their own candidate.

Napoleon Bonaparte

So once again the PSOE is hunting for a candidate capable of giving Gallardón a tough contest, although whoever accepts the task now is going to be perfectly aware that they were not the first choice. I do not expect a big queue of volunteers to be forming, and unless there is a genuine surprise candidate waiting in the wings, the prospect of the PSOE capturing the big prize in next years election is looking less likely. In the meantime, Bono is nobody’s favourite in the party headquarters – although many outsiders, including myself, are very happy not to have him as the main alternative to the incumbent.

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