Right, all you lot who can’t speak Spanish, here’s today’s grammar lesson. The Spanish verb to kill is, everyone? Anyone? Yes, you, you at the back there, consulting Google Translate on your iPhone. “Matar?” Correct. Now, let’s do a bit of conjugation shall we. Matar, third person. He kills, she kills, you (formal singular) kill. And the answer is? Juan Mata, the Manchester United footballer, kills. Él mata. Next, first person, I kill. Who shall we have here? Come on down, Ana, yes Ana Mato, until very recently the Spanish health minister. Yo mato. Now, it gets a bit tricky. Second person, you kill (informal singular). Who can this possibly be? My God, Jaume, Jaume Matas, ex-Balearics president, newly returned to jail. Tú matas. Next question. Which of these three - Juan Mata, Ana Mato, Jaume Matas - is the odd one out? Simple. It is of course Juan Mata. Thanks to an extraordinary conjugational coincidence, he is not a Partido Popular politician who has been caught in a corruption net either alleged or proven. He should really donate his surname to Ana and Jaume, though. It would sound so much better and so much more accurate. Ana kills. Jaume kills. Or, if you fancy some alternative meanings for “matar”, Ana does in, Jaume destroys. Pretence to the end with the PP. Destroying democracy. It isn’t Podemos which is on the point of doing this, as Maria Dolores Cospedal (PP) has suggested; the PP has been perfectly capable of doing this by itself. Greater care really should be taken when appointments are made. I mean, whose bright idea was it to have a health minister whose name comes from the verb to kill? Rajoy’s probably. And how he must wish he’d given Ana the heave-ho a few weeks back when there was a clamour for her head over the ebola business. This might at least have reduced the embarrassment of the past week when she resigned having been cited by a judge as an alleged “participant to profit” from gifts that were lavished around through the network that has made the “caso Gürtel” the massive, ongoing corruption investigation that it is. Poor old Rajoy, his timing was, as ever, impeccably dreadful. One day he had brought his anti-corruption measures before Congress and the next day Ana had handed in her resignation; echoes of the “few small incidents” (of corruption) speech he made in Murcia the day before much of Murcia was raided. Mariano, much to everyone’s amusement, was forced to declare that Spain was not corrupt. And no, Spain, as in the whole country isn’t. Just some of it, and Rajoy knows full well which part. By the way, can anyone remind me? Those Bárcenas ledgers of supposed black payments. The M.R. mentioned as an alleged recipient was? Why has all that gone so quiet?
The gurus of Podemos
Every time another member of the PP elite makes the front pages for the wrong reasons - and these occurrences are startlingly regular - the membership of Podemos leaps along with its poll rating. There are, I’m afraid, some people who still don’t quite get it with Podemos. Sure, it may blow itself out and sure, when the moment of decision at the polling station arrives perhaps the electorate will think again, but Podemos, contrary to too much opinion, does not solely comprise a bunch of leftie twerps with nary a coherent policy thought in their heads and it most certainly cannot be compared with UKIP. In only one regard, a desire to see the back of two-party dominance, can there be said to be any common ground. Podemos is an organisation of spontaneous combustion formed out of the protests of the “indignados”, not a party with years of clowning and tomfoolery. It is not a party which appeals exclusively to one end of the political spectrum, i.e. the left. It can’t possibly be because polls show that it has to be drawing support from the right, i.e. from the PP. It has no witch-hunt, other than that of a corrupt political system. It is not, as again some opinion might suggest, bereft of political intelligence or intellect. Indeed, the contrary is the case. Take, for instance, the views of Wolfgang Münchau, a fierce critic of Eurozone policy, who appears as a columnist in the “Financial Times”. Last week he considered proposals from Podemos to be “perfectly legitimate”, such as the renegotiation of interest on Spanish sovereign debt. What was particularly intriguing about this was the fact that the FT was paying Podemos some serious attention. Leftie twerps? The economic intellectualism of Podemos comes from its two “gurus” - Vicenç Navarro and Juan Torres (both leading academics). Proposals that were put forward by Podemos last week are essentially those of these economic mentors of Pablo Iglesias. They received short shrift from most business associations in Majorca - as one might expect that they would - as they include plans for the raising of the minimum wage, an increase in progressive taxes and nationalisation of large businesses in strategic sectors. They are proposals which may well frighten some potential voters away, but not all. Inherent to the future electoral ambitions of Podemos is whether the electorate might feel itself able to trust the party when it comes to the economy. There again, what is trust in Spanish politics? The PP might be “trusted” to look after the economy, but it has shown itself to be untrustworthy in other regards. Does this untrustworthiness outweigh the uncertainties of a different economic model? And will this be so come election times? It may not, as there are many voters - both those with PP and PSOE sympathies - who have had enough of a political system that has exposed itself as untrustworthy. One only has to consider the poll published last week to appreciate this. Podemos ahead with 28.3% of the survey, the PP 18% down on the 2011 general election and PSOE almost nine points down. And this was a poll taken before Mato had resigned.
Youth employment flop
In a week when a report conducted on behalf of Vodafone revealed that six out of ten Spaniards between the ages of 18 and 30 are considering seeking employment abroad (thus swelling the numbers of those who have already gone) and when a further report showed that over a half of Majorca’s pensioners are having to help with paying their children’s mortgages, bills and weekly shops, the Balearics economy minister, Joaquín García, had to admit that the Youth Guarantee programme for employment and training has been a flop in the Balearics. A mere 150 youth unemployed out of over 30,000 had enrolled. The Balearics are signed up to this initiative and had been expecting 15 million euros from national government to help fund it. To date, not a single euro has been handed over.