Monday, February 09, 2009

Your Next Corruption Scandal Will Be Along In A Minute

Like London buses, scandals involving the Partido Popular seem to come in pairs. Hot on the heels of the still (deliberately) unresolved Aguirregate we get a whole new case involving accusations of companies well connected to the PP having used influence peddling and bribery to improve on and profit from those connections. The case is still in its early stages and many of those said to be involved have yet to be named or be brought before the judge - Baltasar Garzón. Nevertheless there have already been arrests, and the case is provoking commotion inside the PP with the first "resignations" having already occurred.

The main figure arrested in connection with the latest case, Francisco Correa, has not been anywhere near as marginal to PP affairs as the party would have us believe. Most of the photos of Correa that appear in the press show him dressed for a special occasion. That occasion was none other than the wedding of Jose Maria Aznar's daughter Ana, a very grand affair staged at El Escorial as Ana's father temporarily confused himself with Felipe II. Correa was not just there as any old guest either, he was one of the witnesses. He was a key figure in organising events for the PP under Aznar, a position he has obviously used to the full. When Mariano Rajoy took over, the relationship between Correa and the national party was abruptly ended. I think it would help the police with their enquiries if we were told why that happened. The accused have not been left idle by that decision and have continued to work very profitably for other PP controlled administrations, most notably Valencia and of course Madrid.

One of the political figures most touched by the emerging scandal is the mayor of the Madrid municipality of Boadilla del Monte, Arturo González Panero. He is alleged to have accumulated assets which go well beyond the means of even the best paid mayors. He also clearly has political enemies inside the Madrid PP, although if there is anyone in that formation that can't lay claim to having at least one enemy in the party then that means they just don't count. He was reported earlier today as having resigned under the pressure of press reports on the scandal, but apparently retracted on discovering from Judge Garzón that he is not yet on the list of the accused. Where exactly does his alleged resignation leave the claim yesterday by the national PP leadership that the whole affair is just an evil plot by the government? Indeed, why has the PP announced an internal enquiry if there is nothing to the story? I guess that having cancelled the last one they have a crack team of investigators who are sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

Clearly González Panero is not amongst the chosen few in the Madrid PP and it appears the whole investigation was sparked over a year ago by PP members who were nervous about his activities. A couple of others named in reports on the scandal have been invited this evening by Esperanza Aguirre to abandon their posts in her administration. That tells you something about what is going on, if Aguirre feels the need to react then it is because she realises that this is a situation she cannot bluff her way through with yet another bogus commission of investigation. The case focuses too much attention on the way in which the PP and construction interests have worked hand in hand both in Madrid and on the Mediterranean.

An irrelevant but entertaining aside comes from the names of the companies involved in the scandal. Most have odd sounding names in English, a sure sign that their founders are residents of Pijolandia. Nevertheless it`s hard to argue with the name of "Easy Concept" for a company involved in a political corruption case. As an alternative, "Good and Better" also suggests that those behind what has happened had an eternally optimistic outlook on the future for their business.


Colin Davies said...

What we need, of course, is list of councils - of any party - which are NOT implicated in development irregularities. These would be those in possession of a Certificate of Probity. Trouble is, no one would believe it.

Troy said...

Good point Colin, but if that were to happen I'm afraid there wouldn't be one government left standing in the entire country.

But that aside, I heard something great from a fervent PP supporter the other day.

"How dare the PSOE investigate all of this, I'm mean, it's not like there isn't corruption in their party."

Seems to sum it up quite well...If you keep quiet, we will too!

Colin Davies said...

Yes, The crime, of course, is getting caught. Or at least arrested. I sometimes wonder just what one has to do, or whom one needs to upset, or how greedy one has to become, for this to happen. I mean, what criteria DOES Garzon use, given the vast rane of opportuities in front of him. Of which this is one minor example I've just read . .

Graeme said...

The main reason why Garzón is dealing with this case and not any number of other ones is because somebody went to the cops over it - they've spent over a year already on this investigation. If El País is to be believed then the people who started the ball rolling were from inside the PP!