Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 02:41:17 PM EST
[editor's note, by Migeru] With additional formatting and corrections.
Today is the big day in Spanish politics. Today is the big debate: after 15 years, a major TV confrontation in Spain between the two major parties.
Come next 9th of March, we select the Congress of Spain in general elections. The two main parties are the center-left PSOE currently in power and led by Prime Minister Zapatero, and the PP (center-right/hardcore-right) led by Mariano Rajoy. Today they face each other. We hope to follow the debate for all those interested.
Let me recall that it is highly unlikely that any of the two big parties will be able to form a government without the help of other small parties (greens/left-wing IU, catalan nationalists CIU, Basque nationalist PNV, or some smaller regional parties).
Nevertheless, the party which gets more seats in Congress gets to set the agenda and initiate the coalition talks with other parties. It is highly unlikely that the loser will form the government unless the right-wing party wins by a very narrow margin and does not find any partner among the big nationalistic parties (Catalan and Basque). [editor's note, by Migeru] This is quite likely considering that the PP is campaigning on explicit anti-Catalanism.
A win by Zapatero will throw the right-wing party into disarray and will solidify all the social reforms introduced by Zapatero, together with the very centered (a la more than Clinton) economic policy.
On the foreign front... pro-EU, against Iraq involvement... and against any US conservative administration.
A right-wing win means the end of some of the social reforms, a US-style reduction in taxes, and a firm pro-US policy... something like Blair. It would also lead to a major earthquake for the Europe left as the two main representatives (Spain and Italy) would be out of government.
(Note: this is a community thread.. any relevant comment will be place in the main thread. Spaniards are encouraged to participate.. as is anyone alse interested).
Debate starts formally at 22:00.
We will update here what is going on...
Both Rajoy and Zapatero are already in the studio. After being bombarded with all the details and rules I will just say that it will take place in a non-white room and both will talk for equal times about every topic.
: Rajoy should fix his sloppy suit.
Nothing, nothing, nothing... No image. Forbidden ([editor's note, by Migeru] by the rules agreed by the PP and PSOE campaign media advisors)
... the TV stations that carry the signal (La Primera —the national public station formerly known as TVE1—
, Cuatro —left-wing— and Sexta —the open counterpart of subscription-only Canal+—
) filling in with spin or "people on the street" interviews. Right-wing Antena3 station does not carry the signal, and neither does TeleCinco (centered, the best-rated station).
Cuatro station has an spanish Spitting Image in the middle of spin. This only makes it worthwhile.
22:05 Here we go
Moderator: it is amazing how many channels are connecting to the signal blah blah, and radios blah blah and internet blah.
22:10 Rajoy general opening
Whaaaaatttttt????' an infomercial. "Good night. Are you better off now than four years ago?" Reagan style.
Everything is worse than four years ago, except if you ask Zapatero. Economy bad. Crime scary with scary bands. And terrorism, worse... talking with ETA breaking all consensus and lying to people. "No Prime Minister has created so much hatred among Spaniards while talking about good demeanor".
22:15 Zapatero general opening
"Happy to be here".. and then to half-infomercial. Contrast two models... "we have pushed for women rights, for higher pensions for the elderly, social consensus without strikes from workers, more money to health care system..." and "we have done this against an awful opposition which had no qualms about using the pain of terrorism victims to its own advantage. Dialogue or confrontation, that's the choice".
22:20 The economy
Rajoy's basic economic argument is high inflation as the worst state of affairs. Zapatero recalls that Spain is growing more than any other country and it is well placed to deal with international problems, especially given that unemployment is at a historical low.
Rajoy insists that average wages have not increased at the pace of inflation. Zapatero retorts that there are 3 million more people working and that he did not reduce the wages of state employers (as Rajoy did when he was in the government) while reducing strongly the State debt.
Weird.. Zapatero says that to stimulate the economy he will give a tax rebate as Bush is doing, of 400 euros to everyone, and that he hopes the PP will behave like the Democrats. Rajoy says "I had never thought that you would put Bush as an example". Zapatero closes using the words of Rajoy in 2004 when the PP leader said that he would ask for 2 million jobs at the end of the 4 year period.
22:33 Social policy
Rajoy states social policy is taking care of health care... but the problem is immigration. There is an avalanche, ignoring reality. He asks whether Zapatero thinks nothing is happening.
Zapatero starts answering that there were 700.000 illegal aliens when he reached government, but before falling into Rajoy's trap he switches to education. Claims high spenditures at all levels. Moves on to other social policy, specifically to pensions and the minimum wage, which has been highly increased (it is now 600 euros). Stresses the new Law on Dependence, now in process of implementation, to help people who can not take care of themselves and need family support.
Rajoy strikes back that the real topic is immigration. Yes, the PP supports the new law to support families of dependents... but the real issue is immigration... One topic... crystal clear strategy... fear, fear, fear. Directly from Karl Rove's playbook. Will it work? Rajoy:" We have to put order and control" Zapatero. "It is clear the PP only talks about immigration, you do not have a social policy". Rajoy: "You do not want to talk about immigration" plus "education is a disaster and we did peg pensions to inflation".
22:45 Zapatero talks about Inmigration.
ZP: We found 700.000 illegal aliens and legalize them if they had job.. "you had legalized half million with a bus ticket". We fight against illegal inmigration and we did serious legalization.
Rajoy: "It is a lie" and we had a pact with Europe to do the legalization and were small, in the last four years inmigrant doubled.
ZP: We sent back 200.000 more people.. oh and I have here a regularization with a bus ticket... and by the way, all the things you propose the immigrants to do like not marrying polygamously... it is already the law of the land, and then some platitudes saying that most immigrants are OK people.
22:50 ETA terrorism
Rajoy: You talked with ETA.... in good faith for Christ's sake..."ETA was almost dead and now it is strong"
Zapatero: My goal to reduce victims... and I expected your support in my talks...it was standard procedure and you debilitated the government in this fight. oops..."If ETA was so dead at the end of your government why did you attributed to ETA the 11-M attack".
Rajoy: A long list of sentences with the same structure insisting on the Zapatero flips-flops regarding the ETA talks. First I talk, now I do not because we get closer to the elections. "Who are you? The Zapatero who does not talk politics with ETA or the one who says he does".
Zapatero looks angry...:"you were the ones that lied to the people and the ones who never supported a government in a the fight against terrorism".
Nasty exchange... and it continues... with more terrorism and foreign policy.
23:00 HALFWAY THROUGH
Rajoy has two topics. Inmigration and terrorism and insists on them. Zapatero tries to show the record but got angry on the terrorism issue (kcurie).... any more input from the comments?
23:10 Territorial model
Rajoy. You should have not reformed the Catalan Statute. Nobody asked for this debate, and now Spaniards have different rights.
Zapatero: We believe that it is good to reduce central power and we did it in 5 Communities... and you agreed except with the Catalan one while trying to sow hatred among different Spaniards... oh and Spanish speakers are not persecuted in Catalonia
Rajoy: "Spanish is not persecuted in Catalonia but you can not study in Spanish".. and by the way, those that said that Spain were breaking were your own party fellows. "You have no idea about the Spanish nation".
Zapatero: "Mr. Rajoy, it looks like YOUR apocalypsis is getting postponed in history..."
ZP: and I am also glad that you no longer will bring the water from one area of Spain to the other and support getting water from the sea.
Zapatero at his best.. excellent attack recalling that Rajoy supports the same article if it comes from Andalucia but not from Catalonia. He recalls one article supporting euthanasia if it is desired by patients... meanwhile the Community of Madrid government (PP) tried to imprison doctors in Madrid hospitals who were in intensive care applying it. [editor's note, by Migeru] Citation needed! :-P
Zapatero is brilliant here... Rajoy is uncomfortable... Zapatero is solidifying the Andalusian and Catalan base without losing support in other areas of Spain. Great narrative.
23:30 Future and environment.
Rajoy: A disastrous public housing policy. Government has done nothing, you did not think well about it. You said you would resolve this problem... and you did not.
Zapatero: Ok... housing... Shows a graph with the decrease in the bubble price. Rajoy: We do more where we govern.
What a lame exterchange. I do not know who was worse.
Research and education
Zapatero: we put our money where our mouth is... you created laws without funding.
Rajoy : "Did you read the last PISA report?" which indicates that spaniards have lost reading comprehension.
Zapatero: "you raised CO2 emissions by 40% and we reduced it".. and it is very important to support anti-climate-change policies because we have big companies in the wind area.
Rajoy: "We signed Kyoto".
Rajoy then he clearly distorts the record saying that Kyoto has not been fulfilled... forgets to mention that it is because the PP government raised 40% CO2 emissions
Zapatero tries to underscore this point with a graph... he should not have... a direct answer would have been better.
23:40 THE BITTER END!!!
Very heated exchange where Rajoy accuses Zapatero to attack "the victim of terrorisms". I do not know what he was talking about. [editor's note, by Migeru] Something to do with the "Association of Terrorism Victims" (AVT)?
Zapatero says something like "where did you get that?" and "I can not accept this accusation. Where did I attack anyone?" This nasty attack helped Zapatero clearly but probably also rallied the rabid right-wing (such as Federico Jiménez Losantos, the Spanish Rush Limbaugh)
23:45 FINAL STATEMENTS...
Arrgggghhhh Back to infomercial.. it is disgusting.. he is treating viewers like stupids with a crazy voice tone...." if a girl is born now I want that she...."..
I am going to throw up...really
More institutional.. half infomercial with short referent about a brilliant future plus "I asked your vote for 'this' and we did it"... where "this" goes from Iraq to women's rights. It is not good but not disgusting. He ends up with "good night and good luck"... are they following US politics or what?
So it needs some formatting.. but I will leave it to others... and add any new comments. And now to the spin area where the most important thing is "not to be the loser".
THE DAY AFTER...
13 million people watching. Phone polls give winner zapatero as always but eveybody stresses the great performance of Rajoy. Left-wing newspapers focus on the zapatero win while right-wing newspapers focus on Rajoy attacking Zapatero very effectively: as always the most accurate report (or the one i agree more) is La vanguardia header ( http://www.lavanguardia.es/ ) "Rajoy attacks (acosa) Zapatero in a tough and bitter debate"