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Monday, September 15, 2008


Spaniards are not a corrupt people but sadly some of their politicians are. The problem is there is not a corrupt political party but bad apples in every party.

There has always been a low level of corruption in Spanish political society. The party in power at the town hall was always expected to look after “the family” of those who supported it. However before we Anglo-Saxons become too smug let us remember our own saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” which applies as much in Britain and it does in Spain.

The corruption that now endangers Spanish democracy is not the small “favours” but the large scale fraud that has been witnessed in Marbella, Estepona, Manilva and in town halls throughout Spain. This is largely based on illegal town planning deals that have gone to swell the off-shore bank accounts of the perpetrators including mayors and councillors whilst leaving the municipalities bankrupt with the local residents picking up the crippling tab.

In the dock working from left to right are PSOE, Partido Andalucista, Partido Popular plus GIL and post-GIL councillors of deceased maverick Marbella mayor Jesús Gil who have left their mark along the Costa del Sol. They have all been caught not with their hands in the till but with the actual till. This leaves the Spanish citizen and foreign resident at a total loss as to who to trust, who to vote for.

In my own municipality I would tend to support PSOE but because of the actions of the previous mayor I have tactically voted PA and Izquierda Unida at recent elections. However in the neighbouring municipality of Gaucín it is the Partido Andalucista that is at the very heart of the problem.

After the last election the socialists and PP formed an unlikely left-right coalition to keep the Partido Andalucista out of power. The PA mayor, Francisco Corbacho, faced trial and has since been barred from office for misusing town hall funds but is appealing the court ruling so is still a councillor. His fellow PA councillors have been accused of various town planning offences.

Recently the PP withdrew from the coalition but said it would vote with the minority PSOE administration. Then one of the two PP councillors broke ranks and last week Francisco Ruiz was elected mayor with the support of the PA councillors led by Corbacho who will now occupy the real seats of power in the municipality. The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum and Francisco Ruiz this weekend placed town planning at the top of the agenda and declared “El nuevo PGOU es vital, aquí comemos de la construcción.”

Gaucín is a rural municipality and the level of corruption is small beer when compared with Marbella and Estepona on the nearby coast. However this corruption is at the very heart of local society and those who support the PA in Gaucín back a corrupt party whilst those in neighbouring municipalities do not.

At the time of the discovery of the missing funds I lived in the same valley as Corbacho’s father. The word was that his father was beside himself with worry as he had to mortgage his home and land to raise the money to return the missing amount to the coffers. Therefore the notion that these crimes of greed are “victimless crimes” is nonsense. Corbacho’s father was a victim as too are the residents of bankrupt municipalities that owe millions, can’t provide a decent level of service, where the town hall workers are often unpaid and the municipal tax and other bills are huge.

There have already been major demonstrations in Marbella and Estepona by ordinary residents against those involved in the corruption scandals at their town halls. That is fine but the time is not far off when the people, who are being hit hard in their pockets, will be at a total loss as to who can be trusted and who can safely be entrusted with power unless drastic steps are taken by the major political parties to put their own houses in order. To date there is little sign of that despite pious words. If that breakdown in society comes it will be democracy that pays the price and we should fear even more the person who will be waiting in the wings to offer peace and stability to a traumatised nation.

1 comment:

Lenox said...

I'm not sure of the percentage of Northern Europeans with the right to vote in local elections who actually bother to do so (five per cent... less?) and who therefore become part of the problem rather than the solution, but a town needs responsable support to make it stronger and a better place to live.
Most of the 'free press' veer away from this issue. 'No politics... we're just guests here' they gibber as they haul in the advertising revenue and translate uninteresting articles from the local Spanish press (or download even less relevant stuff from the Internet).
Seems that the free press could try and encourage intergration.