Friday, March 04, 2016

Spain In A Day: Insults and tedium

Multi-tasking you could call it, were it not for the fact that the task was singular. Multi-single tasking, if that isn't an oxymoron, which it probably is. The task was writing. So, nothing unusual in that regard. But it was a day - Wednesday - that demanded simultaneous tasking, a day that was unusual in that it projected onto screens, Twitter and multimedia for the multi-tasking the coalescing of great institutions. Parliament, not one but two, the judiciary and the monarchy. All that was missing was the church, though it, buried within the bile that was being belched in Congress, was a bystander on this day of multi-institutional exposure. 

The tasks were these: keeping across debate in the Balearic parliament; keeping across the interrogation of the one-time Duke of Palma; keeping across the debate (the wrong word) on the investiture of Pedro Sánchez. Of these, the first was uncommonly civilised and meaningful in that a key subject was of broad interest. On too many occasions, the Balearic parliament peers deep into its rectum and plucks out arguments that are of no interest other than to parliament itself.

The subject was holiday rentals. For once, parliament was capable of arriving at unanimity - consensus in today's politically correct parlance. It agreed that regulation should be introduced within six months. The unstated message was why it had been taking the government so long to pull its finger out on a subject of infinitely greater importance than the wretched tourist tax. There are times, perhaps, when messages need not to be stated. Let's just all agree to agree and get on with it.

The normal state of dysfunctionality of the Balearic parliament - puerile debate, childish remarks, egotistical posturing - was momentarily cast into the background. It was the national parliament, the Congress of the Cortes, that was to borrow what is usually the normality of Palma's institution. Borrow and graft on insults and observations that should play no part in the most important of institutional processes - the confirmation or otherwise of His Majesty's principal political officer.

It has occurred on more than one occasion that current-day Spain is in a constant state of historical regurgitation. And here was an occasion which confirmed this. While minor parties had their digs, and these included aspirations of independence for Catalonia and the Basques, there was Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, a party that is highly contemporary and yet a relic of the past. How can it be anything other than when references can be made to the Civil War and to the dark fight with ETA terrorism in the early 1980s? Iglesias's dredging up of the murder of two ETA terrorists in 1983 was reprehensible, an utterly uncalled-for stick with which to beat Pedro Sánchez. The murders were themselves appalling, but Iglesias should remember the context. Spain was still in turmoil, with ETA at the centre of this. A year before there had been another coup attempt (covered up) which had sought to deprive Felipe Gónzalez and PSOE the government it deserved. All that Iglesias succeeded in doing was to trigger suspicions that Podemos is not wholly without ETA sympathies.

The debate, which wasn't a debate just an excuse for pathetic trading in insults, was always destined to be a charade. Sánchez had no hope of winning. I had written the introductory paragraph long before the vote was taken; all that was needed was slight tweaking. Mariano Rajoy, as malicious and small-minded as Iglesias in his abuse, suggested that the King hadn't been fooled, and thus managed to suggest that the King had been fooled. The monarch should have been left out of this disgraceful exercise in his name, but this couldn't have been avoided. The King had given Sánchez his blessing to attempt to form a government. Well, someone has to try.

Inadvertently, Wednesday became a bad day for the monarchy. In the court in Palma, the ex-Duke of Palma was subject to the questioning of Pedro Horrach. Of the three tasks this was by far the most tedious. Listening to Horrach deliver questions as though he is an aloof maths teacher, listening to Urdangarin's monotonous replies, the best that one could say that it was at least civilised, albeit that the presiding judge had to rebuke Horrach for constantly asking about invoices. Rebuke? What for? Aren't the invoices crucial to the whole case?

But it was the fact that the Royal Household was supposedly overseeing all that went on at Nóos made it a bad day for the monarchy: Congress and its antics just confirmed this.

It was a curious day of multi-single tasking. A day when the institutions of Congress and monarchy seemed to be unravelling and yet when the judiciary, with its prosecutor's forensic obsessions, and - most surprisingly of all - the Balearic parliament with its consensus came to the rescue. It was Spain in a day. Contrary and exhausting.

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