Friday, January 29, 2010

The Countess, The Banker, The Deputy Mayor And The Hijoputa

So finally Rodrigo Rato rode in to Caja Madrid and took control of one of the largest financial institutions in Spain. This, you would think, might mean the end of the long battle fought by Esperanza Aguirre to take control of the Caja. Indeed, the scene was set nicely for a peaceful takeover by Rato, without making it appear that Aguirre had been humiliated. But for Espe, losing a battle never means that the war cannot continue by other means.

Just before the changeover, the Partido Popular conveniently announced its disciplinary sentence against Madrid's deputy mayor Manuel Cobo for having revealed to a wider audience just how things work in a Madrid PP led by the Lideresa. Cobo has been suspended from the party for a year, exactly the same sentence as was given to Valencia's Ricardo Costa for defying the national leadership. Not that Cobo cares too much, his loyalty is to his boss Alberto Ruiz Gallardón and it's probably the case that his intervention helped to tip the balance against Aguirre in the battle of Caja Madrid.

Unsurprisingly, the measure taken against Cobo didn't satisfy Aguirre's lust for revenge, she would prefer something closer to a severed head on a stake. Ignacio Gonzalez, the man who was Espe's candidate for the job that Rato got, soon made it clear that hostilities continue when he reminded journalists that the lists for the next elections are in the hands of the Madrid PP, controlled by his boss. Aguirre herself has today come out and said to El Mundo that she doesn't think Cobo should be included in the lists for the next election. Even so, PP leader Mariano Rajoy could still veto any attempt to axe Cobo from the PP list, assuming that he feels like it. One reason for the continuing animosity is that the case investigating the great Madrid spy scandal still continues, and I have read that Cobo will be declaring before the judge tomorrow.

The best, however, was still to come. At the end of last week a conversation between Gonzalez and Aguirre concerning Caja Madrid was captured by a stray microphone, and provided an interesting insight into Aguirre's way of thinking....and talking! Discussing the new members of the Caja's governing body, Espe celebrated the fact that she had managed to give a place to a representative of Izquierda Unida rather than it going to "el hijoputa". Initial shock at hearing a member of the aristocracy talk in this way gave way to speculation about who exactly she was referring to. Most people believed it was a direct reference to Gallardón although Aguirre has denied this and I think there might be something in what she says. Surely Gallardón woud be "el gran hijoputa" as far as she is concerned? How revealing, though, that she should prefer the left wing IU to get the position rather than someone from her own party.

Many observers have asked the obvious question. If Cobo loses his membership for saying Aguirre's actions were "de vómito", how come there is no action against her for calling a fellow party member "el hijoputa"? Don't hold your breath on that one, it will only cause unnecessary suffering. Although the insult captured the headlines, there was another more tantalising part of the conversation where Aguirre was believed to be asking Gonzalez what weapons her faction possessed for use against Rato himself. If I was Rodrigo I would get to each meeting early and check under the chairs and tables.

Apart from the danger of having crossed Aguirre's path, who wouldn't like to be Rodrigo Rato? It's a nice little earner being in charge of Caja Madrid, and Rato has come through the battle completely unscathed having done all of his manoeuvering in the background. Even if you can't occupy the big comfy chair at the head of the table it's still worth getting a walk on part in the Caja Madrid story. Those who turned up to raise their hands for the appointment of Rato as president were rewarded for their tremendous effort with a free DVD player and €700. That enters into the "nice work if you can get it" category.

Someone who would have liked the extra cash but who no longer gets it is one of the outgoing members of the caja's governing body. Gerardo "Aguirre es cojonuda" Diaz Ferrán ended his term of office having successfully managed to avoid repaying the €26,000,000 that the institution so generously lent to him. Gerardo still has a line of communication open to him in the ongoing negotiations, the place he vacated has been taken by his brother in law.

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