Wednesday, April 02, 2008

No Buses For Bono

The new Spanish parliamentary session kicked off yesterday with the election of the President of the Congreso de Diputados. The lucky winner was José Bono, although he was elected only with the votes of the governing PSOE and one other member; without reaching an overall majority. None of the regional nationalist parties was prepared to openly support the election of Bono, despite concessions by the PSOE to allow some of them representation on the Mesa del Congreso which governs parliamentary affairs.

Bono is a politician who has a clear self-esteem problem, but in the opposite sense to that which is normally seen as problematical. His candidacy as president provoked dismay amongst many, including members of his own party, as he is not noted for showing restraint and tends to revel in the limelight. The nationalist parties dislike him because he represents the most Españolista wing of the PSOE, those for whom the unity of “Ejpaña” is sacred. However, the PSOE is not unduly upset that he was elected without nationalist support, it demonstrates the “autonomy” that they are looking for despite not having a parliamentary majority. Zapatero himself may yet be voted in next week as head of government with what they call a simple majority (i.e. more votes than any other candidate).

I find it hard to understand why Zapatero insisted on presenting Bono for this post. There was no real need for him to offer Bono anything at all, especially after the latter failed to carry his former stronghold of Castilla la Mancha in last month’s election. It certainly doesn’t seem the best way of keeping him quiet. Whatever the reasons, there is no doubt that Bono has got a very rewarding position. Above all financially, with the salary and associated benefits the President of the Congreso does significantly better than the Prime Minister or anyone else in an official position. All he has to do is be driven between multiple ceremonies and cocktail parties in his official car, shout out “¿Por qué no te callas?” occasionally to one of the assembled “señorias” and life is good!

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