Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Senator Jordi Guillot, who represents the Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds, which presented itself with the far-left Izquierda Unida at the Spanish General Election, is proposing to Spain’s Upper House of Parliament that members of the Royal Family be banned from participating in businesses, advising companies or having a financial interest in them.

He spoke out over the so-called “el escándolo Urdangarín” which has embroiled the Duke of Palma who is the husband of the Infanta Cristina, daughter of Spain’s monarch Juan Carlos I. He wants the matter debated by the Senate when it holds its first meeting on December 13.

Guillot is seeking the Real Decreto 1369/1987 be modified – this royal decree regulates the treatment and honours that correspond to the members of the Crown. He wants the decree to be amended to ensure no member of the Royal Family takes part in remunerated activities, cannot form any part of a business and no person who have been convicted of a crime can be a member of the Royal Family.

This would see Iñaki Urdangarín thrown out of the ranks of royalty and his titles withdrawn should he be convicted. The Duke of Palma is an advisor to Telefónica Internacional and co-owner with his wife the Infanta Cristina of Aizoon SL. Since 2006 this company has had a 50 per cent holding in Nóos.

The ICV senator is very angry over “the silence” that the Casa Real has maintained over the judicial investigation in to the business activities of Iñaki Urdangarín. Guillot stated: “This is another case that demonstrates the necessity of knowing the accounts of the Royal Family. It will be good to oblige the members of the monarchy to declare their assets and the economic activities that they participate in, in a similar manner to the other senior members of the government.”

The Duke of Palma, Iñaki Urdangarín, is being investigated in the Palma Arena case over allegations that his company Nóos received money from large businesses and private entities. None of these so far have accused Urdangarín of fraud or indeed the others implicated in the affair.

Investigations by the Agencia Tributaria tax agency, the economic crime squad of the National Police and the anti-corruption prosecutor of the Balearic Islands have found that associates linked to Urdangarín invoiced between 2003 and 2007 millions of euros to large companies. These included Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Iberdrola, Bancaja, the football clubs Villareal and Valencia plus Roig Grupo Corporación and the Sociedad General de Autores (SGA). The report also showed that Nóos, a supposedly non-profit making company, had relations with other major companies such as Repsol, BAF, Motor Press Ibérica and financial institutions.

It is believed that the clients of Urdangarín paid to him and marketing- image experts very high sums. It is claimed that SGAE handed over 760,000 euros to Nóos, a car company another million euros and Villarreal football club almost 700,000 euros. It appears the Duke of Palma also received sums for publicity for a series of events Nóos organized with public funds in Valencia and Palma. Nóos is said to also have received 625,000 euros from private sponsorship plus 2.3 million euros from the Balearic Government of the then president Jaume Matas. If there is any wrong doing it will revolve around Nóos non-compliance with an agreement with the public organization Illesport under which private funding was meant to be used to reduce the dependency of the events on public cash.

The duke used the name of the Royal Family and his wife the Infanta Cristina as bait to sell the projects. The Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo claims that apart from the Duke, his wife and their private secretary are also involved. They could face charges of misappropriating funds, fraud, falsifying documents and obstructing justice. Not surprisingly given the seriousness of the charges the investigators are being accused of bowing to pressure from the King in a cover-up.

Last year the then Izquierda Unida mayor of the Andalucía town of Puerto Real, José Antonio Barroso, attacked the Spanish monarch, Juan Carlos I, and has repeated his accusation that he is corrupt. He accused the monarch of having “enriched himself illegally” and added some unflattering remarks on the morality of his father adding like father, like son.

The Partido Comunista also organised a petition presented to the Spanish Parliament demanding transparency in the accounts of the Royal household. The PC pointed out it was “unusual” that the King “does not explain how he spends the budget he receives from the State, that is around 10 million euros a year. Whilst he does not declare his spending there will be suspicions.”

(The above article appeared in the London Progressive Journal on December 20 2011)

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Following the recent Spanish general election there is now a fourth force in the nation’s politics. After the new party of government, the Partido Popular, comes the outgoing socialist PSOE, the far-left Izquierda Unida and then the Voto en Blanco – those who submitted blank votes as a symbol of protest.

En masse the PSOE supporters abandoned their party with 4.4 million previous voters rejecting the socialists. The majority abstained, others stayed on the left with Izquierda Unida, which rose from two to 11 seats and its vote hit 6.9 per cent – but – and this is the key point only 550,000 of those dissatisfied voters went to the PP. Hence it wasn’t a mass endorsement of the Partido Popular but a mass rejection of PSOE.

It is in to this scenario that Voto en Blanco entered with the blank votes accounting for the fourth largest amount in the general election. In the election for Spain’s Upper House, the Senado, there were 1,263,120 which equates to 5.37 per cent of the electorate and also three times as many as registered a blank vote in 2008 when it was 2.06 per cent. In the Lower House, Congreso, the blank votes reached 333,095 or 1.37 per cent against 1.11 in 2008.

To the total of blank votes – 1,596,215 – has to be added the sum of 97,706 for the political group Escaños en Blanco. Their electoral promise was that if their candidates were elected to parliament they would not take their seats as a protest and rejection of the unjust Spanish political system which they claim is anti-democratic.

The result of the Voto en Blanco, along with those who abstained and submitted spoiled votes, shows the overall discontentment of the Spanish people with the political system and the offerings of the various parties. The increase in this protest vote has been notable but it is insufficient because it was overshadowed by the immense wave of rejection of PSOE.

This was the major tendency in the 2011 general election, with voters turning their backs on outgoing premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and his successor Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. They were humiliated and suffered the worst result for the socialists since the death of Franco and now PSOE needs to enter a period of deep reflection.

Traditionally and importantly the Voto en Blanco represents a frontal protest by those citizens against the various electoral offerings presented by the parties but, and this is the important part, who refuse to renounce their right to vote and be part of the democratic process. A right earned by Spanish society through force and bloodshed.

(The above article appeared in the London Progressive Journal on Saturday December 3 2011)