Francisco Camps al New York Times20/5/2011
Publicat en New York Times, 19/5/2011
"Diumenge s'espera que Francisco Camps siga reelegit com a cap del govern regional valencià [...]. Cap a final d'any, però, el senyor Camps haurà d'anar als tribunals per a afrontar càrrecs de suborn, com a part d'una àmplia investigació de corrupció, anomenada cas Gürtel."
Spaniards Take to Streets Before Vote
By RAPHAEL MINDER
Published: May 19, 2011
MADRID — With elections set for Sunday in Spain in more than 8,000 municipalities and 13 of its 17 regions, thousands of people, most of them young, have taken to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona and other large cities this week, calling for an end to suspected longstanding corruption among established parties. Fueling the demonstrators’ anger is the perceived failure by politicians to alleviate the hardships imposed on a struggling population by a jobless rate of 21 percent.
At sit-ins, street protests and on social media networks, the protesters’ message is that of an alternative campaign that could eclipse that of the established parties and result in a decline in voter turnout on Sunday, from 63 percent four years ago.
Some of the youth groups have made the fight against corruption their battle cry, like NoLesVotes, or “Don’t vote for them,” whose manifesto starts with the warning that “corruption in Spain has reached alarming levels.” The group recently published a Web site map pinpointing localities where more than 100 politicians seeking election were also under judicial investigation.
Other protesters are fielding alternative candidates, like the Pirate Party in Catalonia, founded 18 months ago, which is hoping to win about 7,000 votes across Catalan municipalities. One of its candidates in Barcelona, the 27-year-old Francesc Parelleda, said political corruption was a consequence of a “political system in which there is simply zero transparency and democracy within the main parties.”
José M. de Areilza, dean of the IE Law School in Madrid, said, “I don’t think that political corruption is necessarily worse in Spain than in other European countries, but I do think that the economic crisis is now generating a lot more anger and resentment here toward politicians.”
On Sunday, Francisco Camps is expected to be re-elected as head of the regional government of Valencia, which includes the third-largest city in Spain and some of the most popular Spanish resorts.
By the end of the year, however, Mr. Camps is also likely to be in court facing bribery charges, as part of a vast corruption investigation, dubbed the Gürtel case, that has also targeted several other politicians from the main center-right political force, the Popular Party.
Mr. Camps was charged in February for allegedly receiving tailor-made suits in return for granting public contracts, with further possible financial irregularities still under investigation. Nine other politicians standing for the Popular Party on Sunday in Valencia are being investigated or have been charged with fraud. Mr. Camps and his fellow candidates deny any wrongdoing.
For now, the corruption allegations have not hindered Mr. Camps’s re-election bid, according to the latest opinion polls. Like Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister who is engulfed in scandal, Mr. Camps has portrayed himself as the victim of a witch hunt by political opponents, judges and left-leaning media. Asked in December to comment on some of the allegations, he said that “nobody should believe Soviet-style propaganda against everything that has been achieved in Valencia.”
In fact, “many people in Valencia now talk about the Berlusconization of our society,” said Ferrán Bono, a Socialist lawmaker who represents Valencia in the national Parliament in Madrid. “Some people have seen so many political scandals that they just treat them as banal, but I think many also genuinely believe the conspiracy theory that Camps has been so actively promoting.”
The Gürtel investigation, which also targets some Popular Party politicians in Madrid, involves more than €120 million, or about $170 million, of public funds misspent by politicians in return for alleged kickbacks, according to a summary of the charges presented by the prosecution this year. Its alleged ringleader, Francisco Correa, is in jail awaiting trial.
But corruption investigations have not spared other main Spanish political parties, starting with the governing Socialists of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Socialist politicians stand accused in several of the property-related fraud inquiries that have mushroomed amid a collapse in the Spanish construction sector. Since April, the Socialist party in Andalusia, the largest region in Spain, has also been shaken by an inquiry into whether party officials provided fictitious early-retirement packages to friends and family members.
Mr. de Areilza, the law school dean, said: “We have built a democracy with political parties somehow disconnected from society, who have accumulated a lot of internal powers and have not been regulated in very important areas like their financing — and unfortunately they are also the ones who are in charge of pushing through any reform of the system.”
Mr. Camps’s anticipated victory in Valencia is expected to be part of a countrywide sweep by the Popular Party at the expense of the governing Socialists, whose popularity has plummeted because of the economic crisis.
Whatever the outcome Sunday, Mr. Zapatero announced in April that he would not seek a third term in office, paving the way for the selection of a new Socialist leader ahead of the general election, expected in March 2012.
In their campaigns, many regional and municipal politicians sought to distance themselves from the policies of Mr. Zapatero’s central government in Madrid in order to bolster their own prospects. In the case of Mr. Camps in Valencia, “the message has been that everything that works in Valencia is his doing while everything that is wrong, like a jobless rate that is four percentage points above the national average, is the fault of Zapatero,” said Mr. Bono, the Socialist lawmaker.
The reverse, however, has not been true, with national party leaders careful not to antagonize powerful regional politicians who could influence their chances next March.
For much of last year, Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party’s national leader, refused to confirm his support for Mr. Camps because of his ties to the Gürtel corruption scandal. On Tuesday, however, Mr. Rajoy went to Valencia to join Mr. Camps at the city bullring. “You are a great president,” Mr. Rajoy told him in front of a cheering audience. “The people vote for you because they love you.”
Tags: política valenciana, cultura democràtica.