If your government’s decisions are not your own and you can’t even vouch for their effectiveness, it is time to stand aside
"You cannot lead men in directions that mutilate them." The phrase is Frantz Fanon's, in reference to decolonization, but it does draw a red line of what is admissible in any government action. Policies that condemn whole sectors of the population to exclusion and the impossibility of a decent life, are illegitimate. And the Spanish government, after dragging its feet for six months, is now stretching the social pact to breaking point. Reduction of unemployment insurance, the limit of aid to released prisoners, cutbacks in social expenditure on the elderly, co-payment of medications, while the threat of pension reductions looms just beyond the horizon - all of this aggravates the social crisis, affecting millions of people.
History repeats itself. Two years ago, in May 2010, Zapatero, under international pressure, performed a traumatic U-turn, sowing unease throughout the country and wrecking his own credibility. Wednesday July 12, 2012 will be remembered as the day when Mariano Rajoy did a similar U-turn, going back on his electoral promises and hiding behind "international demands" to duck his own responsibility. "The Spaniards cannot chose whether to make sacrifices or not. We do not have that freedom," he has said. Expressions of this sort ought to be pronounced by a prime minister only a minute before submitting his resignation. If he is not capable of shouldering responsibility for his policies, a prime minister should not be there.
With Rajoy's permanent dodging of responsibility, people are asking whether there is anyone at the helm"
Dodging responsibilities is a chronic vice in Rajoy's style of politics. He wanted to live off the discredit of the Socialists, blaming them for the crisis, thinking that in this way he might avoid having to make unpopular decisions. But reality is moving too fast for him, and the lumbering Rajoy has lost his footing. Demoralization spread in his own political milieu, and in an economic world which, believe it or not, had actually thought that with the PP everything would change. Having betrayed his electoral promises and lacking a program of his own, Rajoy tried to gain time, with a strategy of denial of the obvious. He spoke of reforms which almost never arrived, avoiding words such a cutbacks and trying to pass off as a "line of credit" what was a full-blown bailout, thus rejecting any suggestion of obligatory measures imposed by exterior forces. Until the other day when Rajoy, pushed again by the EU, fell off his horse, and pronounced the phrase: "We do not have this freedom."
With Rajoy's permanent dodging of responsibility, people are asking whether there is anyone at the helm. There are good grounds for this doubt. The prime minister himself says that he has no freedom to decide. This is very serious: a leader is a leader because he is capable of standing for the decisions he makes, disdaining subterfuge. This is the basis of credibility. This is why it is so obscene when the prime minister utilizes the king, having him preside a Cabinet meeting previous to the decision on a new round of cutbacks. Rajoy wishes to implicate the monarch in responsibilities that are only those of his government; to give the Spanish people to understand that "there is nothing else to be done" so as to make his U-turn look like a shared national objective. And to camouflage the fact that it is a strategy that, first and foremost, will create more recession and unemployment.
There are millions of people who do not share this idea. The Popular Party government is alone responsible for the decisions it makes. And it will have to answer for them to the public. The aim of creating a climate of national mobilization around a set of measures that Rajoy himself, only a few days ago, denied he would have to take, is another turn of the screw in the process of manipulation and deception. It is the smoke screen the prime minister hides behind.