ESPERANZA AGUIRRE - FIRST FEMALE PRIME MINISTER OF SPAIN. |
Esperanza Aguirre set to take the wheel
By Michael Mifsud.
Her name means hope but in this instance it means a little more than that for Ezperanza, the controversial and sophisticated ex President of the Madrid Community whose mere presence already speaks about her future role in the leadership of Spain.
For those with a feel for the urges of destiny and its political “expressants”, there was no shadow of doubt about the outcome of the future general election which did come sooner than the intended end of term vaunted by the then hugely unpopular Prime Minister Luis Zapatero. But things are not easy in the Iberian front as the economy begins to illustrate what many have suspected and which most have papered over – that it was never there in the first place. It certainly looks like that with the disastrous economic figures that should have, by now, forced the country into ruinous bankruptcy. Spain is a relative newcomer to the modern world of Europe and its strategic position within the landmass, made her a useful ally and potential partner in the construction of a unified, potentially strategic world economy. It has not turned out that way with a tendency on the part of the lower European members to dig into an antiquated and reclusive nationalism directly contributing to increasingly convergent economies set out to carve their own course at the expense of the genuine European contributors. Spain, like Portugal and Greece has not emerged from the downturn produced by the simple lack of tourists and the incredible property bubble that has all but destroyed the majority of the foreign investors whose nest eggs have been dragged into the vortex. Little hope of recuperation and crippling designer taxes set on taking what ever is left from those who left their own shores to settle in what appeared to be an idyllic place, has brought many to the point of rescue by other members of the family. The hot spots like the Costa Del Sol, overbuilt and incapable of controlling its own effluence has further damaged the delicate ecology of the one time enchanting Mediterranean seashores. Concentration on massive building on ribbon development scale has completed the picture of what is now a social wasteland devoid of the basic recreational necessities for communal living that does not have to end up consequently, at the local bars.
Greed and corruption has destroyed an economic dream gone sour, but worse, as tourism, the lax and lonely supporter of the national budget, threatens to bring a veritable house of cards down by its increasing absence. No significant effort has been made to create employment and worse still, where the effort has succeeded to keep the figures apparently moving, it has been in the grossly overmanned public sector with a Government bill and employment ratio that speaks volumes of political incapability of controlling this amazingly unnecessary bureaucracy. Additionally the daily television debates devoid of real substance demonstrate that the entrepreneur is something totally misunderstood and in their minds loosely related to job creation. One so called economic expert actually said that they appeared to be "mad investors with no sense of risk". It is small wonder that the place is littered by their absence. Most have packed up their bags and gone leaving massive unemployment in its place. However, the chief culprits in this respect are the banks which have destroyed most of the small and medium sized companies which sustain most Western economies. There appears to be a strong political, bureaucratic and banking antipathy of the imaginative entrepreneur full of positive and usually successful ideas. The Spanish economic system favours and aids the giant monopolies for reasons to do with influence and backhanders. One such company which threatened an economic analyst on television if it was mentioned, was said to control 75% of the consumer market. It is not difficult to understand the ability of such giants to affect the inflation rate at will.
In the worst hit ares of Southern Spain, political opponents have thrown out facts that have underlined the wasteful nature of national and local political expenditure with successive governments spending on itself and its own and neglecting the struggling businesses without which there would be no employment at all. The value of high employment within public administration as seen by the extreme left, as geared to greater control of the machinery of state. The long term effect of this drain on resources and consequent increased taxation to the point of killing the goose, can be seen in the tatters of the Spanish social scene which is dangerously close to widespread violence. The practically inexistant export market and steady decline in industrial investment (warehouse rentals have dropped to 30% of that in recent years) has been largely caused by massive cheap Chinese exports of which low quality copies of European products feature mainly on a built in obscelecense consumer assault. This has effectively dented consumer spending as the nation turns turns into a throwaway society.
The lack of industrial production or the resettlement of desperately needed foreign producers on the Iberian shores are linked with national deterrents based on narrow interests in these state revered monopolies. Mercifully, hugely unfair anti employer courts have now lost their teeth but the debri of the millions of jobs lost through their scurrilous judicial blackmail can be clearly seen. It has always amazed foreign investors that modern production units with built in social and entertainment centres that contribute to the social lifestyle of its employees are hardly visible. It is thought that there has been a determined political and bureaucratic attempt to keep foreign employers away or discouraged by the union movements. Safety and hygiene instruments of indirect punitive penalties rarely applied to locals, is also seen in this light. Turkey once wore this sinister garb of behind the scene fooreign investment deterrants which ended in its economic downfall. The growth of light industrial units and highly geared cottage industries would have would have pushed Spain into the 21st. Century without dependence on cheap tourism. The discouraged residential tourism with all its spending is now being wooed back as a valuable aid - miles too late. The British community is moving out faster than newcomers coming in and it is sad to realise just how much a light industrial foreign investor with a villa attached could have been to the Southern Spanish employment scene. Neither the banks or the local government sources spending their European funding elsewhere, even recognized its potential. The factory and villa in the sun at a time when the consumer boom sparked off by European aid, was in full swing, could have even outstripped local needs and set up the much needed export flow that would have guaranteed the welfare of the Spanish family for generations to come. Of that there is little doubt. The bad press however which Spain has received over the last ten years, particularly in the tax and labour sector however, has eroded the platforms on which these economic possibilities could have been launched.
Lack of industrial interest.
The total lack of political will with respect to industrial investment and which is demonstrated in the economic figures, betray disguised import export deficits that have contributed hugely to underlying inflation rates. Spain has now become too expensive for the type of tourism on which it fed. Additionally, its management at both national and local level has utilised community membership to remunerate itself with what is termed "parity". Political and institutional executives appear to have a free hand in adjusting their own salaries with a result that even mayors now pay themselves more than the President of the United States. And that does not include the behind the scene add ons. The state monopolies and energy companies follow suit passing the buck on to the now terrified and overburdened consumers.Unrelenting taxation is also a nightmare as is also the subjective, judicial system which has been classified as not protective and of poor quality by most of the European media. It simply does not work.
But where most modern countries have aspired to reduce the tax burden on its electorate,Spain not only increases them but creates more and as is the case with the much detested stamp duty, it maintains it at 7% whichever sale price the authorities wish to impose on the unwary buyers. This unfair tax which discourages sales in the property market, is not based on actual purchase price but what the government thinks it should have been sold at ! Social security contributions stand at a record breaking 45%. Wealth tax, vehicle transfer tax, and an incredible rental income tax for foreigners (denounced by the EEC) whether they let their properties or not, has destabilised the foreign second home sector which in the main accounted to over 60 % of the restaurant and bar trade.
But would a new broom full of European promise get the national confidence back ? Esperanza Aguirre stands in the wings with no magic wand, but already her foreign public appearances have ingratiated her to the citizens with her liberal approach to social structures and they now see her as a potential Margaret Thatcher for the country. She is probably the only Spanish politician of any standing who can speak good English and although she is viewed with caution by those whose power would be left in the shadows if she made her way to the leadership of the party, it is not difficult to see that she is being carefully monitored. There is a hint of optimism in political circles that her strategic challenge will not take too long to make its appearance. Both the previous Prime Minister, Jose Aznar and the present Mariano Rajoy have left Spain particularly unimpressed with their theatrically structured and hollow attacks on the present Social ruling party and it is very doubtful that either will make it to the next General Election. A similar situation arose in the Thatcher days and it was a forgone conclusion that the thrust of a totally novel concept into what appeared to be a never ending, crisis ridden, political scene would attract voters. It did and temporarily shook the country to its feet. The same happened in Turkey and Pakistan with results too difficult to interpret out of context, but without doubt, Spain will be the next entrant in the female leadership scenario. It will also, for reasons to do with her liberality and lack of the sort of chauvinism which is alienating Spain, prove to be a future platform on which a hopelessly lost economy can be restructured within intelligent and more family and business oriented efforts.
A Woman of Destiny
Esperanza Aguirre studied law and like Thatcher whom she confesses to have been attracted by, keeps her iron rod well hidden from public view showing a Shirley McClaine front that reveals little other than the impact of her innocuous, not so politically correct, occasional remarks. She is the mother of two and married to an aristocrat who also happens to be successful in his career. She is presently head of a head hunting agency and her next move may well be one of surprise. She is an ex President of the Senate.
No loose cannon.
Political conflict has never been her chosen aim, but within the ranks of the right wing party, Partido Popular, her liberal characteristics have kept its leaders casting glances with a degree of disquiet. Some serious brush ups with both the leader Rajoy and the uninspiring, ever popular,ex Mayor of Madrid, Gallardon have enkindled what is now a dawning realisation - that she will lead the party to electoral success.
During the course of the year, events will force her into the open as the crumbling support for the fumbling Rajoy becomes more evident. Spain therefore needs an injection of genuine values devoid of party political sectarian interests and prevalent corruption that has kept a handful of people among the richest in the world at the expense of the rest. It also needs to re-establish institutional ethics to render them of real public use. Most are membership conscious and find it difficult to relate to complaining outsiders with the resulting lack of social balance mechanisms that make investing in Spain a non too digestible spectre.
Esperanza Aguirre was expected to make a public statement to the effect that she is conscious of her possible contribution to the aspirations of her country, but the stalemate between her and the prevailing party authorities can only be broken with the sort of public demands expected during the course of this year. This situation, according to many within the body of the party, is rapidly coming to a head. If this is the case, an early election could be on the books, not by consent but by force of circumstances and the escape valve may well be no other than the redoubtable charismatic and very willing Esperanza.
Since this article was written, despite the lack of real leadership and candidates up to the score, this much admired claimant to the task has been blocked, insulted, defamed and generally manipulated to keep in the wings. The present, now routed President (Prime Minister)did not even offer her a Ministry or prominent political role. Her comments recently in the midst of the most shameful whirlpool of inconsequential political nonsense, merit printing - "Obviously I am not the blue eyed girl of some of my party´s Executive "·
Since this article was first published, Esperanza Aguirre has slid further back into the shadows and no least as a result of a so called mistake in choosing a close aide who turned out ruinous and since taken his life. She however, as with other attempts on the part of her nervous antagonists,can only be uncomfirtably slanted towards any possible association with the corruption that has swept her party. The lady, is not to be tainted and in view of the present, lowest ever estimation by the public of the world of politics and the deluded Bankers, it is possible that a gap will emerge that will enable people like her to take the lead once and for all.
Michael Mifsud was a House of Commons Commonwealth correspondent at the age of 16. He published Britain´s first trade journal for Drivers and became the youngest full member of the Commonwealth Press Union sharing platforms with the press barons of the day. He traveled with the Royal family for over a decade as a member of a press team,becoming much sought after on matters of Monarchy by the media. He had his own TV programme on culture and art (as a keen art collector and investigator)in Marbella,Spain and has recently published a very successful book on the nature of the unique people of Andalusia,called, Al Andalus - a trail of Discovery. He has been the subject of TV interviews in Spain and the UK on Princess Diana (whom he knew before she married)the Templars of which he became a very senior executive and royal exiles whom he met regularly as a director of the Monarchist League of Great Britain. Reuters recently featured him in an exclusive interview on Templars on the eve of the da Vinci premiere which was seen worldwide and was a an important contributor to the controversial books, Holy Blood and Holy Grail and The Messianic Legacy in which he is also interviewed. He is mentioned in others like The Sword and the Grail as an interpreter of the real meaning behind the Templar battle cry. His research over 30 years on the Knights and the symbolism is disquieting and unpublished. He was included in the 500 most "inspirative" people in the world - according to the American Academic BWW society for the advancement of Peace and which has gone into official political agency and government libraries throughout the world. He delivered a paper on the failing role of the world press in Paris as an official delegate of the organisation and published two well received papers on Culture and Globalisation. He has been offered an editorial seat on the board which advises its academic members throughout the world. He is a proud Freeman of the City of London and holds Polish, Serbian and Afghanistani decorations gleaned during his early Templar life in London. Pre-retirment business interests included publishing,professional academies, airline operating, airport carparks and hotels. retirement will be spent on getting all outstanding books out on the market.
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