Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Zapatero Test



Last night saw the first of a series of televised 'head-to-head' debates between the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (above, left, with Hugo Chavez)and opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, ahead of Saturday's general election. The BBC reports that four out of five opinion polls show that Zaptero won the debate. That's excellent news. For if there is any Western European leader who deserves to be elected, it's Zapatero. As good as his word, he pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq. Furthermore, he also wrote a letter to other European leaders urging them to do likewise. Zapatero has moved his country away from the neocon foreign policy stance it adopted under his predecessor, José Maria Anzar, a strong supporter of the illegal Iraq invasion. Zapatero has developed closer ties with the progressive Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez, and despite pressure from the US, France, Britain and Germany, has refused to recognise the illegal breakaway province of Kosovo. At home, he has increased the minimum wage and old age pensions. And he's put homosexuals on the same legal footing as heterosexuals by legalising same-sex marriages.

Now, you would have thought the last point alone would make Zapatero, the darling of the liberal imperialist/Euston Manifesto crowd. But don't hold your breath.

I've mentioned before, that in order to make up for their total lack of any left-wing credentials in matters economic, the liberal imperialist/Eustonista brigade are always very keen to promote their support for same-sex marriages. But support for same-sex marriages does not, on its own, a socialist make. The issue of gay rights has been used by liberal imperialists as a smokescreen to propagandise against regimes not fully open to global capital and of whom the US State Department does not approve: Iran being the classic example. Of course, there are genuine human rights campaigners, like the admirable Peter Tatchell, who are totally consistent in their approach: Peter will berate US allies and US foes alike. But for the Eustonistas/ liberal imperalists what matters most of all is not the treatment of homosexuals, or indeed other human rights issues, but whether the country in question is 'open for business' and does what the US State Department tells it to do.

The Eustonistas and liberal imperialists do however, have a golden opportunity to prove me wrong.

They can join me, in proclaiming a very loud 'Viva Zapatero' and expressing a hope that the admirable Spanish Prime Minister is re-elected in Saturday's general election.

If they keep silent on this issue, or express support for the candidate of a party of nostalgists for the fascist blood-stained, serial human rights abusing dictator General Franco, then we can only draw our own conclusions.

3 comments:

Dan, portsmouth said...

I must be behind, the last thing I read is that of Chavez threatening to boycott spain and nationalize spanish bank unless he receives an aplogy for the Spanish kings personal abuse.

Neil, I'm very surprised you didn't say anything about the bloodbath in Gaza. it has been scandalously mis-reported in the BBC.

All the best

jolies-couleurs said...

I wish Zapatero well on Sunday...

However, I cannot help thinking if I were a gay man in Iran (which thankfully I am not, rather I live in the (relatively) more benign Russia, and as a foreigner), I would take any support, rightly or wrongly, from outside with grateful relief, whatever other agendas might be tied to it, because I expect I would feel so hemmed in as to feel, for me, this was the only issue that mattered: often a matter of my life or death.

Nick said...

I am an expat living in Spain and agree that Zapatero has passed some very progressive policies that may otherwise have taken years to happen in what is traditionally a conservative country. However, while he withdrew troops from Iraq, remember that Spain still has a presence in Afghanistan.

In addition, there's been widespread condemnation of the televised political debates for both candidates trotting out the same old tired arguments about immigration, ETA etc. rather than providing vision as to their plans for the future.

That said, at least they were brave enough to go head to head on TV - something I cannot imagine happening in England a week before an election.