Monday, July 09, 2007

Are You A Ratista?

No sooner had I written my post on who is best placed to be the next leader of the Partido Popular (PP), than something had to happen to throw it all open again. In a comment on my original post, Evaristo suggested the name of former Spanish finance minister and current IMF director-general Rodrigo Rato as an alternative candidate to Esperanza Aguirre or Alberto Ruiz Gallardón. No chance, I said, he's too far from home to be a contender and doesn’t have sufficient support in the party. A couple of days later, Rato took care of the distance problem and announced his intention to leave the IMF and return home to Spain.

I like to think he took his decision after reading South of Watford and realising that his chances of being PP leader were not good while he lived the good life in Washington. However, I’m prepared to accept that his return might not be a result of this blog showing disrespect for his chances. In any case the decision certainly caused some expectation both inside and outside of the PP. Officially he has returned for family reasons and is not seeking to resume his domestic political career (cue murmurs of “heard that one before”). I have even seen suggestions that he is returning to Spain because of lurrrv, although I’m not sure about that one because he could always have followed the Wolfowitz Principle and placed the object of his affections in a well paid post in the IMF.

Maybe he is retired from active politics, but the problem is that a politician who wanted to place himself as a possible successor to current leader Mariano Rajoy would not behave much differently. Rato is making loyal, supportive, noises but maintaining a safe distance from a party leadership that could be facing a second successive electoral defeat. Should that defeat occur then he can instantly put himself at the service of the party. He certainly provokes less rejection inside the PP than Gallardón does, although maybe he is not ideological enough for those who currently pull the strings in the party. He’s a candidate…..or maybe he isn’t!

On an incidental note, Rato’s return spells the end of the war “dividend” from Aznar’s disastrous participation in the Iraq invasion. The only beneficiaries of this adventure have been those PP politicians (Aznar included) who got nice jobs out of having US support for positions in major companies or international organisations. Jobs for the boys (and girls), shame about the rest.


Evaristo said...

The problem with retired politicians is that their ego normally remains intact. And it is tough to retire from your ego...

Look at Bono. After 15 months he is back, mainly because there are elections next year. Is Rato coming back to work in the private sector? Maybe. But there are elections next year...


PS: believe it or not, but next weekend I'm going to London for the first time. What should I NOT miss?

Graeme said...

I haven't lived there for about 15 years so my knowledge of the city is not very up to date. If you have time and the weather is not bad I would recommend a couple of hours in Greenwich, downriver from the centre. A museum - the Tate Modern. A different London - take a stroll around Brick Lane in the East End. Enjoy.