It certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed that second deputy prime minister and minister for social rights, Pablo Iglesias, hasn’t just once but twice broken his quarantine.
When Sra. Iglesias, aka Irene Montero, the equality minister, came down with the virus, the Podemos leader went into quarantine, only to break it in order to attend the state of emergency cabinet meeting last Saturday. The previous Thursday, he had tweeted: “I don’t have coronavirus. I have fourteen days of quarantine ahead of me, taking care of my family and working electronically.” Sure enough, though, he was out two days later, heading off for the meeting in order to ensure that it dragged on for six hours longer than had been expected. With Pablo seeking to ensure that Podemos have a say in the emergency measures, he was at it again on Thursday.
On this occasion he appeared at a presentation with the health minister so that he could basically reiterate the demands that Podemos had been making apropos workers’ rights and social rights (as he would, given that he’s the minister for them).
It’s right that he should stick up for these rights, but this wasn’t really the issue. He’s meant to be in quarantine, so leaving home on two occasions didn’t seem to be setting a great example.
This said, he isn’t the only one, but - because it suits certain elements of the media - he has been the one who has been jumped.
There is also, for example, the prime minister, as Mrs. Sánchez has had the virus as well.
Fernando Simón, the fellow who issues the daily bulletins about the virus and is the director of the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, has sought to explain. The general recommendation is that anyone who has close contact with someone who is infected should observe a quarantine. This advice does, however, envisage certain exceptions which are “reasonable”, such as those to do with “work activity”. And the prime minister and second deputy prime minister have plenty of that at present.
The empty Congress
It was like a theatrical performance to which hardly anyone had bothered to turn up. It was the one-man show of Prime Minister Sánchez in Congress on Wednesday. There were a few more than one other man and his dog, but not that many. The plush black seats in the front row were sparsely occupied, as were the slightly less plush red seats.
Those in attendance were not short of choice as to where to sit, which did make one wonder why some felt the need to sit behind others, as with the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, who was in the red ranks behind minister of transport, mobility and the urban agenda, José Luis Abalos. Then there was Iván Espinosa de los Monteros y de Simón (Vox) to the rear of the interior minister.
Vox, it has been said, provided “politician zero” in terms of coronavirus spread - Javier Ortega Smith. He went down with it, and there was a video doing the rounds of his shaking hands with various others at the recent Vox convention. The leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, was another to succumb. Wise to all this, the Esquerra Republicana Catalunya’s ruffian, Gabriel Rufian, was about as far away from anyone as he could be, including Espinosa, without disappearing from camera view. Very sensible no doubt. In the case of The Infant, Iñigo Errejón of Más País, he all but had disappeared. He was there, though, and proposed a type of Marshall Plan for overcoming the crisis.
Vox and the “pan-Catalanist” virus
While most non-essential activity at political institutions is currently in a state of hibernation, it would appear - or at least it did to Vox - that the Council of Majorca was still hard at it. “It is shameful,” Vox denounced, “that in the middle of a full-scale health and social crisis, the Council of Majorca is concerning itself with continuing to give subventions for Catalan”.
On the same day as the state of emergency was declared, Vox noted that the Council had announced a total of 300,000 euros in grants for books and recordings in Catalan. “We have enough to do in fighting this virus without these irresponsible individuals spreading their pan-Catalanist virus.”
Authorities, the party noted, are obliged to reconsider their budgets and spending in order to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. “They should be allocating social funds to the most needy.”
A couple of days later, and quietly enough, the Council said that the period for requesting these grants would be “reopened” once the state of emergency was over.