Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Rise And Rise Of José Ramón

Are we to conclude that there has been a potentially defining moment in the political career of Balearics president José Ramón Bauzá? What conclusion do we draw from the words of national premier Mariano Rajoy that Bauzá is a "brilliant Spanish political reality in his own right"? Something's going on. Is José the anointed one, the special one?

Soon after the latest vengeful revelations of Luis Bárcenas hit the newsstands, a correspondent of mine sent me an email in which he suggested that, if Rajoy were to find himself out of a job, there might be three names tossed into the prime ministerial ring: Aguirre (as in Esperanza Aguirre, the former president of the Community of Madrid), ex-premier Aznar and Bauzá. I assumed that the latter of these names wasn't serious. However ...

Being an anointed one is something more likely to occur in countries where there is slightly less than a full grasp on democratic principles, such as China or Venezuela. Anointment has sort of occurred in Western democracies, as with, for instance, poor old Anthony Eden, who had to endure years of being undermined by Churchill, despite his being the old boy's acknowledged successor, before finally getting his feet under the 10 Downing Street table.

Generally speaking, though, there isn't an anointment process, even if Rajoy himself was something of the chosen one by Aznar (a mistake, Aznar would now have to admit, given that Wikileaks showed he was none too convinced by Rajoy). But Rajoy was very much part of the Aznar establishment. Bauzá isn't part of the Rajoy establishment. The glowing terms in which Rajoy described Bauzá the other day can be seen in different ways, and one of them may be that Mariano has made a left-field pick for a potential successor.

Bauzá's elevation to the main political establishment in Spain has been spoken of before. Barely a year into his presidency, there was talk of him getting a political transfer to Madrid, but, rather than sit on the bench in national governmental circles, he preferred to see out his contract in Palma. It was the honourable thing to do, after all. But why was he even being considered? And why now might he be being lined up for a position rather grander than he currently has?

Bauzá isn't exactly that experienced. Prior to assuming leadership of the Balearics Partido Popular, he was a mere mayor of Marratxí and something of an unknown. He became leader, or so it seemed, more because he was anyone but Carlos (Delgado) than because he was especially qualified. Given his lack of experience, could he genuinely be thought of as premiership material?

There may of course be something else going on. Bauzá isn't without his own problems, those to do with the charges that his business affairs (not adequately declared) are incompatible with his position. So, Rajoy may simply have been laying down a marker, one that might have in mind a decision regarding this incompatibility by the Balearics High Court.

Alternatively, Rajoy may just have been acknowledging what he believes to have been Bauzá's astute handling of the Balearics economy. There will be many who would disagree with such a belief and who have viewed Bauzá's period in office as one characterised by adhering steadfastly to Madrid dogma. It has been said that the region of Castilla-La Mancha has been the "test bed" for many national policies, but the Balearics have been as well and in more than an economic way - in the Balearics, there have been the language politics as well.

The president of Castilla-La Mancha is Maria Dolores de Cospedal, who is also the PP's secretary-general. Cospedal, like Bauzá, is the model austerity PP politician and one who might well be thought of as Rajoy's most likely successor. But, she has been damaged by the Bárcenas revelations. Indeed, much of the PP establishment has been damaged. There may not be an admission of this, but Bauzá, being distant from this establishment, is untainted. The allegations of incompatibility are nothing like as serious as any that Bárcenas has brought up and, in my opinion, are ones inspired by mischief-making rather than by barefaced impropriety.

Is Bauzá seen, therefore, as a new broom? The PP might gain a great deal from being seen to shed some of its damaged goods and from presenting a new image. Whether Bauzá would be the right one, who can say, but he does seem destined for higher things and were he to stand as the Balearics deputy to Congress, then those higher things might come within his grasp.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

No comments: