Once a year Spanish politicians have a big brain storming session called the State of the Nation Debate. It’s a really big name for what is basically a mixture of random speeches and a massive shit flinging contest. Year after year you listen to the same crap by more or less the same people. This year’s “debate” is a bit different because it’s Zapatero’s last and everyone’s speeches are their first campaign act for the next general election, for which there isn’t a fixed date yet.
The first act is always the President’s speech, summing up the status of the country, which tends to be even more boring than any other speech because I have yet to listen to a president say that his work has been shit and the country is in the gutter. Everything’s rosy, life’s just peachy. He’s not to blame for anything and he’s going to propose such and such measures to fix problems that are always someone else’s fault. This year’s speech by ZP was no exception to this rule, although wading through the 35 pages of his speech has left me light-headed, put a silly smile on my face and made me see orange dragons dancing right outside my field of vision. I can’t imagine how he could walk back to his seat after reading it.
The second act is the Opposition’s Chief speech and the subsequent answers and re-questions by the President, et cetera. This year Rajoy had it easy, but somehow he managed to give a “mild”, almost cuddly speech, which I’m sure that the five million unemployed and all the people having to flee the Basque country will have appreciated fondly. He even managed to wish ZP the best in his subsequent professional and personal life. This Rajoy guy must be a descendant of a certain roman who was quite fond of fiddling in front of a good campfire.
Then the rest of the political parties present in the Parliament give their much less relevant speeches, with two main trends becoming quite evident once you’ve followed this “debate” a couple of years:
-The nationalist forces are always victims and demand more money for their regions.
-The leftist groups are always victims and demand more money for social programs.
The only variation are the leftist nationalist forces, which are always victims and demand more money for social programs in their regions.
After everything is said and done, the interesting part arrives in the form of press coverage and a deluge of opinions from one side or the other saying that they “won” the debate. This year not even the Prisa media group could say that ZP won. Only MediaPro are still lifting their left fist and claiming victory over the oppressing forces of capital and the “fachas” that besiege and besmirch the only acceptable and true way of thinking. ZP’s performance has been so lackluster this year that even some of his supporters have deemed him a “zombie” and grudgingly concede that cutting this term short might be the wisest course of action if they want to salvage anything at all before it all comes crumbling down and buries them in political rubble.
Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks, but I’m afraid that we won’t see too much action during the summer and that everything will be put off at least until september. I wish we could all do that with our bills and our mortgages. As a matter of fact I’m going to talk to my children this evening and tell them that we will delay any food or clothing purchases until september, too. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled by the proposition.