Wednesday, February 5, 2014

            Valencia tends to miss a lot of the systems that make their way across the peninsula either from west to east or south to north.  What we do tend to get are the winds that drive the systems in either direction.  Today’s winds are averaging 30 miles per hour and there have been some very impressive gusts that we got to experience as we made our way from a camera repair shop to Carrefour that reminds me of a Super Target.  We went there in search of grape leaves for a Saturday cooking get together with Pepe.  The culinary focus will be the Middle East and Pepe will prepare a lamb tagine and Susan’s contribution will be pita bread, hummus and tabbouleh.  I have graciously volunteered to eat everything.  What a guy!

            Last night we finally caught up with the Oberles.  It had been more than a month since out last get together.  Brian has been busy with his work at the consular office here in Valencia and Ofelia at the art studio she shares with a number of other artists.  The two of them spent several days in Madrid helping Ofelia’s mother get settled in her new apartment in Madrid.  We had a lovely dinner at Appetite Cantina as we caught up with each other’s comings and goings.

            I am following the political scene here with a great deal of interest.  As you know form previous posts the Partido Popular won an absolute majority in the last elections and has been ramming through legislation without any discussion and totally ignoring the will of the people. They have pushed through significant cuts in education, health, welfare, culture and pensions.  The have raised the VAT to 21% and, as announced yesterday, unemployment has reached the highest rate since 2007.  The party’s strategy for the upcoming elections will be to introduce a number of tax cuts that will be of scant benefit to the 26% of the overall population that is out of work with youth unemployment hovering at 50%.

            The PP has defended the interests of the wealthy providing the funds for a bank bailout occasioned by the tidal wave of mortgage loans that should have been never made and by stacking the boards of local savings and loans with cronies and then funding ridiculous construction projects carried our by friends.  The Catholic Church continues to receive 14 million Euros a month and the royal family continues to be staunchly defended in spite of their rather immoral and slimy goings on.

            The Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, hides behind his ministers who do all the dirty work and become the public face of the party.  The ministers, all longtime supporters of the party, are, to be kind, a group of bumblers.  They frequently make pronouncements that they soon retract claiming they were misquoted and they make policy decisions from which they backtrack. The latest hullabaloo involves the abortion question with the party putting forth a proposed policy change that would greatly limit access to abortion for any reason whatsoever.  There has been a great deal of pushback within the party itself and the reaction from other political parties here in Spain and all over Europe have been negative, to say the least.

            The decision has now been made to not make any changes until after the elections for the European Parliament in 2015.  The PP’s popularity numbers continue to plummet and there is widespread talk that the two parties – the PP and the PSOE – that have alternated being the party in power since the mid-70’s may find themselves on the sidelines after the 2016 elections.  We shall see how it all plays out.

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