Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Local elections

The run-up to the local elections here in Spain started a few days ago, so now placards, posters, banners and other electioneering paraphernalia adorn every available space, as the various parties try to persuade us that our vote is best spent on them. If the pollsters are to be believed, and that seems highly likely this time round, then the PP (Partido Popular) will make huge gains across almost the whole of the country, thereby taking control of many more "ayuntamientos" from the unjustly maligned PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero EspaƱol).

This is a terrible thought. True, Spain is still very much divided between left and right, but relatively recent history has shown just what the right is capable of, and local councils already controlled by PP are hives of corruption. The PP is basically the party of Franco's heirs, an ultra right gang of conservative, catholic, anti-socialist individuals, who probably have gilt-framed photos of Margaret Thatcher in their bedrooms and think that Bush was the personification of the Second Coming.

The poor PSOE has had a hard time in main government and this will be reflected in the results of these local elections. They are blamed for an economic crisis with which they have had little to do, a crisis of worldwide proportions, generated by greedy bankers and suchlike, which has had repercussions in a Spain whose economy the PP, when it was the governing party at the end of the last century and the beginning of this, ensured was built on the shaky foundation of the construction industry, which, if it did not build a solid economic platform, at least meant big backhanders for the PP-ers who ensured that land was redesignated as building-ground, irrespective of the actual legality of such actions and with no regard at all to the future.

In many ways, El Raso, the estate where we live, is a miniature example of Spain and such PP shortsightedness. The area occupied by El Raso was designated building-ground by the PP when they ruled the roost in Guardamar, even to the extent of allowing roads and building plots to be laid out in the area immediately adjacent to a nature reserve, when the law expressly prohibited such behaviour. A large housing estate was established, including numerous very large, well planted roundabouts and several green areas. All very nice and prestigious, but no thought had been given to the maintenance of these areas, nor to the provision of telephone lines, or a postal service. The PP was interested only in large short/term gains for the few, of course.

Thankfully, the PSOE took over control of Guardamar after only a limited amount of construction of buildings in the prohibited zone, but the damage had already been done by the roads, which had first been laid, and the inadequate planning for service facilities, thanks to the PP's lack of forethought. As a result, the PSOE was left with a host of El Raso-related problems and an extremely limited budget with which to solve them. They have, during the past five years or so, done much to improve matters, but this goes unnoticed by most, who see the problems as occurring during the mandate of the PSOE and remain blind to the reality that they were generated by the PP.

This is remarkably like the situation in Spain as a whole, though on a far smaller scale, of course. The really sad part is that the results of these local elections are likely to be reflected in the general elections, to be held next year. Spain will then most probably lumber itself with an inward-looking, Europhobic, xenophobic government and control by the PP will be complete, with both local and national governments in their hands. That will be a sad time for Spain and a sad time for Europe, too, as yet another country falls to the short-term thinking of the right wing, who delight in strengthening delimiting borders and even building more.

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