They were at it again in Congress last week. The coconut heads were popping up from their shies on the voting merry-go-round. Ready to be shot at, aim was taken at one of them. The head belonged to Jorge Moragas. Bang!
Jorge is Super Mariano's chief of staff, his right-hand (it couldn't be left) man. In Jorge, Mariano trusts. Unfortunately, Jorge had a yes-no brain fade moment. And let's be fair, it's not difficult. Fifty-fifty, anyone could make the same mistake. Jorge made that mistake. Invited, as with the other coconut heads, to state "sí" or "no" in response to the motion of no confidence in his boss, Jorge chose "sí". He opted for the wrong half of the 50:50 equation.
Seemingly unaware of his cock-up, Jorge had to be arm-wrestled by Celia Villalobos. You'll remember her; she was the one who had words to say about Podemos's Natty Dreadlock In A Babylon, rasta-ised Alberto Rodríguez. With Celia wrenching his arm from its socket, Jorge screamed "no". Then shouted it several more times, as the tellers hurriedly revised their voting entry and the whole of Congress collapsed in a fit of collective mirth.
At the moment that Jorge uttered his gaffe, it appeared as if Pablo Iglesias was on his way to the presidency (known also as being prime minister). The Podemos vote of no confidence in Super had claimed its victim. Jorge said "no" to Rajoy, albeit he had said yes, when he shouldn't have.
Brushing it all off, a red-faced Jorge later explained (joked) that he had been "building bridges". Is that what they do in Congress, hidden behind the coconut-shy terracing? A Lego kit or some such to pass away the endless hours of having to listen to Iglesias? Here's a bridge I've made. Which, given that it is a Partido Popular bridge, would be one constructed with the aid of a dubious contract and a vastly inflated value.
This, corruption, was essentially why Pablo and Podemos had lodged their no confidence vote. "Spain is a great country. But without you, it would be even greater," opined the patriot Pablo. Super Mariano's riposte: "The PP is not a corrupt party, that's why voters renewed their confidence in us." Actually, that probably wasn't the reason for the highly muted confidence that the citizens had shown in Super and his party. Meanwhile, Mariano suggested, in not so many words, that Podemos had been having a laugh by bringing the no-confidence vote. It failed, as everyone knew it would, despite Jorge's attempt to make it work and indeed give everyone a good laugh. PSOE abstained.
The debate was otherwise noteworthy for its usual Hernando moment. The PP's Congress spokesman, the one-man demolition squad who is Rafael Hernando, having stated that more work was needed and less circus of a Podemos populist variety, then decided to allude to Pablo's romance with fellow Podemos-ite, Irene Montero. Now, usually when there's a Hernando-Podemos moment, the latter walk out. On this occasion they stayed put and confined themselves to booing Rafael in the style of rival football supporters.
Prior to all the fun and games in Congress, Podemos's man-on-the-way-out in the Balearics, Alberto Jarabo, was reminding everyone that he is, for the time being, still in charge. He did this by launching an attack on Rajoy and the PP, who were accused of having an obsession with the Balearics and displaying "persecutory mania" and "Balearicphobia". So, we had a new phobia to add to the list, which includes "tourismphobia", something that Alberto knows all about, except when it comes to subletting a holiday rental in Son Serra de Marina.
Anyway, Alberto was making it perfectly clear that Podemos in the Balearics were squarely behing the Iglesias no-confidence vote, which no doubt didn't cause Rajoy a sleepless night.
Overlooked in the middle of the debate and the vote was the fact that on Thursday there was a fortieth anniversary. On 15 June 1977, Spain held its first general election of the post-Franco, newly democratic era. At that time, Javier Rupérez, chief of staff for foreign affairs, declared that there was immense joy in the streets for having recovered democracy and that Spaniards had "found themselves".
Indeed they had. And they were to find that Spanish democracy came with something of a caveat. The Podemos no-confidence vote because of corruption wasn't a case of having a laugh. After nearly forty years of dictatorship, democracy was restored. Forty years later, they're talking corruption. Over and over.