Thursday, 28 March 2013

Private Eye goes to town on Spain

SPAIN The famous satirical magazine published an article on Spain in its March issue (yes, March is almost over but what the hay). We discovered this not because we subscribe to it (we can't afford it) but because we came across it looking for something else - not quite, we were listening to GBC Radio a couple of days ago, and they mentioned it in their news section. So we found the cover on the Private Eye site, but couldn't read the whole article as we are not credit-card-carrying subscribers. However, we did find a review of the article on the GBC site, and fearlessly cut enough of it to give you a taste of what it says (okay, okay, we will give you the lot, so long as you promise to visit the GBC site for other information...)>>>
It begins by highlighting the case of PSOE MP José Antonio Viera. As a socialist deputy for Andalucía, one of the poorest parts of the country, it says he should have much to say.  Yet in the whole of 2012 he apparently asked not a single parliamentary question and made no speech or intervention.  Private Eye says he's far from unique and that few Spaniards are surprised.  80% describe the country's political leadership as "poor or very poor".
According to the magazine many blame the system itself, with closed lists of candidates at election time meaning voters must vote for all or none.  This leads to little individual accountability with politicians making no effort to do surgeries as there is little possibility of building up a personal vote.
Incredibly, Private Eye notes, there are no definitive official figures for the precise number of how many politicians or political appointees there are at local, regional or national level.  Best estimates suggest that as well as the national parliament and executive there are nearly 70,000 councillors and 8,000 local mayors, to which must be added members of 17 regional parliaments and administrations.  According to one calculation there is one political office holder for every 115 people in Spain, compared with one to 800 in Germany.
Private Eye says popular anger hit a new peak when official figures revealed there are around 22,500 official cars in Spain. Nearly one thousand belong to central Government, eleven thousand to local town halls and ten thousand to regional government. The estimated annual cost of keeping this "fleet of privilege" on the road is more than 1.2 billion euro.
Naturally, anything said that smears Spain for any reason is dearly loved by most Gibraltarians, or so it seems. This article is a good example - but we strongly suggest that readers on the Rock might also like to look at CampoPulse, where plenty of (constructive?) criticism is launched most days, and not just about Spain.

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