Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Every Meatball Has Its Price

One of the more entertaining aspects of the Gürtel corruption case comes from the documentation detailing many of the illegal payments made by the organisers of the ring to various politicians in the Partido Popular. A few weeks ago we learnt that Valencia's Francisco Camps had the code name of "El Curita". Back in Madrid we have something even better. The former mayor of Boadilla del Monte, Arturo Gonzalez Panero, was given the name of "El Albondiguilla" (The Little Meat Ball). A very expensive little meatball he seems to have been, Panero and Boadilla are at the heart of the case. Then we come to "Luis el cabrón". This nickname has been found in the documentation and it is believed by the prosecutors that it is a reference to Luis Bárcenas, the national treasurer of the PP. The name clearly suggests that he wasn't held in great esteem.

The accusation against Bárcenas has now been referred to the Supreme Court, because of his status as a member of the Senate rather than his position with the PP. This means the case is now divided between three separate courts, as the regional equivalents of the Supremo are already dealing with their part of the case in Madrid and Valencia. Whatever the people behind Gürtel may have thought of him, the charge is that they paid huge sums of money to Bárcenas. The PP's treasurer is certainly a very wealthy man, having accumulated riches that go well beyond the limits of his salary from the PP. His predecessor in the post offered us an insight into the ethical yardstick being used inside the party when he claimed that the fortune Bárcenas has accumulated is not an issue, because he had managed to obtain much more!

Inside the PP there are now plenty of people who think it's time Bárcenas resigned his position, but party leader Mariano Rajoy doesn't seem to be one of them. Boosted by his recent election victory, Rajoy has been carefully avoiding any comment at all on the Bárcenas issue, waiting as he always does for developments to solve the affair for him. A lot of the pressure for Bárcenas to go is coming from interested parties on the bitter and twisted right, with El Mundo leading the charge, but other PP figures who can't be so easily classified have also expressed their doubts about keeping him in his job. There is of course also the question of how to justify forcing Bárcenas to resign whilst so many others continue to occupy their political positions. In reality, although the PP has taken measures against some of those accused, nobody has yet resigned from an elected post and those who have had their PP membership suspended continue to form part of the party group in town halls and regional governments like Madrid.

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