Monday, March 10, 2008

Here's to four more years of Zapatero

How refreshing to see a Prime Minister willing -for once- to channel money into welfare rather than wars, Millennium Dome, or billion-worth bailouts for banks and private firms (for British readers, Virgin Rail and Northern Rock may ring a bell).

Spain is going to be under Socialist rule for another four years. Last night's PSOE victory proved that the 21st century blend of ugly conservatism, bigotry and politics of fear that is stalking Europe can be defeated. Most importantly, it can be so without stealing the conservatives' clothes. Josè Luis Zapatero sent the Partido Popular packing without mimicking their policies, nicking their language or genuflecting to big business. The Socialists' four years in office carried none of that Blairite whiff of neo-Toryism which was essentially a priestly "I understand your concerns" tagged in front of "lady's-not-for-turning" sort of policies - and that was Blair's conscience ticked off.

Zapatero's government did exactly what it said on the tin. Firstly, he kept his word about Iraq as he pulled Spanish troops out as soon as he got in. Second, he acknowledged that labour casualisation is the noughties' version of the black plague. Fancy that in England, where the unions are still trying to get into Gordon Brown's head that the rise of casual labour carries a whole range of social side effects. For the PSOE, moderate and cautious policies don't necessarily mean pandering to whatever the zealots of contratos basuras (literally 'rubbish contracts') prescribe. For the first time, there's a government aware of today's 18-30 generation's financial plight. Hundreds of thousands of "call-centre-kids", in their twenties and thirties, pocketing crumbs and with no other choice than to hold onto their mother's apron. The ley de ayuda al alquiler (a sort of rent subsidy) was brought in to redress the drama of a new generation worse off than their parents' for the first time in history. Similarly, the dependency law (ley de dependencia) was designed to guarantee residential and nursing care to every old person in need.

Zapatero didn't flinch in the face of the PP's hysterical hissy fits about "wasting money" on solidarity. How refreshing, to see a Prime Minister willing -for once- to channel money into welfare rather than military adventures, opus magna a-la Millennium Dome, or multimillion bailouts for banks and private firms (to British readers, Northern Rock or Virgin Rail may ring a bell). How refreshing to have a non-Conservative government that doesn't huff and puff day in and day out against benefit claimants. Just look at the state of those New Labour fellas in the UK. All muscles when it's about giving dole-claimants the proverbial kick up the arse but as docile as the new boy at school when it comes down to the scandal of the non-doms tax-free status.

Given that it could have been Mariano Rajoy (the Iberic William Hague), here's to another four years of Zapatero.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you didnt mention civil partnerships in Spain. Now that was brave of him. Though Blair did that too.