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Monday February 11, 2013

Why the Spanish are right to be angry

A street name in Majorca’s capital of Palma that once honoured Cristina, the King of Spain’s youngest daughter and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, is to be removed. In the light of an ongoing fraud investigation which allegedly implicates Urdangarin, the City Council has decided to remove ‘Rambla dels ducs de Palma de Mallorca’ replacing it simply with ‘La Rambla’.

Iñaki Urdangarin has been a suspect in a long running investigation by the Balearic authorities into allegations of corruption and embezzlement of public funds, some from the Balearic government. Only this week, he and his former business partner, Diego Torres, were ordered to post €8.2 million bail and Urdangarin will face a judge for the second time later this month. Although the King’s son-in-law has so far not been found guilty of any charge, it seems that Palma City Council is taking no chances, opting for damage limitation by removing any whiff of the Duke from the streets pending the final outcome of the case.

Meanwhile El Pais, Spain’s left leaning daily newspaper, has implicated Mariano Rajoy the Spanish prime minister, in an alleged corruption scandal along with others in the conservative Partido Popular (PP). Last week the newspaper published unofficial documents claiming to show donations made by companies to a number of PP leaders, including Rajoy himself. It alleges that he received annual payments of €25, 200 over an eleven year period, an estimated €250,000. This latest report will have dealt a severe blow to the party, already fighting allegations of secret cash payments made to its leaders, all of which have been strenuously denied.

The long running Urdangarin case, and latest alleged revelations about the Partido Popular, have angered the Spanish electorate already struggling with 26 per cent unemployment and a fiscal crisis that has pushed Spain to the precipice of a European bailout. Outrage and fury at the allegations of government corruption has led to 500,000 people so far signing a petition which calls for the resignation of Mariano Rajoy and other key ministers within the PP party. Hardly surprising is it that a recent poll revealed that 96 per cent of the Spanish believe that corruption is widespread in politics.

In Majorca locals expressed disappointment at the allegations made against Iñaki Urdanagarin, the Duke of Palma, and indignation at the alleged revelations in El Pais. One cynical wag in my mountain town sighed philosophically and countered, “Aren’t all politicians on the make? The only problem for some is that they’re foolish enough to get caught.”

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