Thursday, July 24, 2008

Peace In Our Time

Well who would have thought it? A meeting between Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy which actually ends in agreement on something! Yesterday’s meeting was a first outing for Rajoy’s new strategy for the Partido Popular as he attempts, somewhat unconvincingly, to present a softer image whilst praying that the economic troubles in Spain will be enough to bring down Zapatero. So we got agreement at last on the renovation of the judicial institutions, and an agreement on terrorism; although we will have to be convinced that the PP doesn’t really intend to try and use terrorism for political advantage. There are some habits that are very hard to shake.

The blocking of the long overdue renewal of the Constitutional Court and the judicial governing body, the Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ), formed part of the PP’s strategy in the last parliament as they sought to preserve their political advantage in both institutions. Nobody should imagine that either institution is even remotely non-political. The justice system works appallingly badly at times. I was reading the other day about a case where some people were swindled by a bank and a property developer, the case went to court and was heard but the judge couldn’t be bothered to write the sentence. Several years later the CGPJ finally got round to doing something about him, but the victims of the fraud were still left without a verdict. When some right wing fringe group makes a complaint about someone burning a photo of the king or about a street that has been named after an ETA member for the last 20 years then there are judges fighting each other to take the case. Meanwhile, anybody else who wants justice is left waiting in the queue and neither the government, the PP, or their political appointees on the CGPJ seem to see any problem there for them to worry about.

On the economy Rajoy is developing a habit of accusing others of possessing what are really his own faults. So he accused Zapatero of being indecisive and being inactive on the economy when he is famous within the PP for his habit of leaving difficult decisions, and has never been accused of being a workaholic. Had the accusation come from anyone else it might have had some force. Given the PP’s proposed solutions for the crisis – tax cuts and reductions in public spending - all the evidence suggests they have still not found anyone with an economics degree to bolster their new found interest in the topic. They will be celebrating the latest bad economic news in the PP headquarters as the economy has become the issue which Rajoy hopes will return him to power. Its an open question, the government managed to get re-elected just as the economy started to decline, Rajoy has to be hoping for a profound 4 year crisis if he wants to make this the centre of his next campaign. Either that or a government which fails to see out its full term.

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