Monday, April 06, 2009

Una Crisis De Gobierno

It's a funny thing, language. What we call in the UK a "reshuffle" is always called a "crisis" in Spain. Even if the only reason for changing the members of your government is that you can't stand their faces any more, it's still a crisis de gobierno. According to virtually all the major papers in Spain, we are going to see that crisis this week, in the middle of Semana Santa. The general view seems to be that Zapatero has decided he needs to bring forward the remodelling of his government to refresh it's image before the European elections in June and before the warm glow of the Obama Moment fades from public memory. The publication of an opinion poll showing the Partido Popular edging ahead could also be an additional motivation.

The rumours, which is all they are at the moment, suggest that Pedro Solbes is on his way out as finance minister to be replaced by Elena Salgado - currently in charge of public administration. No surprise if it happens, Solbes himself has made comments recently that suggest he has had enough. Another suggested change is that José Blanco will join the government for the first time as the minister of public works, displacing the not very well regarded Magdalena Alvarez in a big spending ministry. Blanco has done several years as the organisational boss in the PSOE, usually being the one who delivers the hard hitting direct political attacks that Zapatero generally avoids. The most surprising rumour has long standing Andalucian president Manuel Chaves joining the government as a vice president responsible for relations with the regional autonomous comunidades. If true it would be a curious way of managing the succession in Andalucia after so many years.

We'll see. Despite the unanimity amongst the press, it's a curious time to make such a move with so many Spaniards on holiday anyway. Also, it distracts press attention at the very moment when Zapatero is strutting the international stage in a big way and is out of the country. There has been a general expectation that there would be significant changes in the government at some point before next year, and a defeat in the European Parliament elections in June was identified as being the most likely moment to do it, presenting a fresher lineup for the second half of the parliament. We should know how true the rumours are by Wednesday if not before.

No comments: