There can be no better example of opposition tactics coming back to haunt you once you’re in government than what has happened to Mariano Rajoy.
During the last two intense years before coming to power, Mariano Rajoy’s tactic was to hound the socialist government, criticise its every move. When the government raised VAT from 16% to 18% he declared it the act of fools. When the socialist government froze pensions and reduced public-workers salaries by 5%, he rounded on the government mercilessly – it was scorched-earth opposition tactics… but now he finds himself having to cross that the desolation that he laid downed, having his own words thrown back at him.
During the parliamentary debate, a speaker from one of the opposition parties held up a photo of the conservative First Minister of the regional government of Madrid, Sra. Aguirre in 2009. In the photo, reproduced here, she can be seen holding up a board, showing the negative results of putting up VAT, how it would cut consumer spending, stunt recuperation, affect trade, bring about recession, etc, but here we are with the conservative Prime Minister, hiking the VAT by 3% upping the reduced VAT on public transport, and hotels from 8% to 10%.
In a country that depends so heavily on tourism – it is Spain’s prime income – hitting hotels, airports and public transport seems a recipe for disaster, as if things weren’t bad enough.
Mariano Rajoy relied upon his habitual defence of putting the blame firmly on the previous government for not taking measures before, but it escaped nobody’s notice that when the previous government did attempt to take measures, they always had his frontal opposition to counter. Spain can thank their lucky stars that the socialists, now in opposition, are not paying him back in kind, but on the contrary, are backing him.
Prime Minister Rajoy is to be commended on some of the most overdue cuts; those to the overweight political system; he is cutting local-level councillors by 30% for instance. Furthermore, public workers can hardly complain that they will lose their Christmas and summer bonuses, seeing as there are so many people out of work and with nothing. One wonder’s, however, what Mariano Rajoy 2009 would have had to say about such a cut…
Yes, at the end of the day, Mariano’s worst enemy is his actions whilst in the opposition, which is exacting a very heavy punishment on his credibility, more than anything that the combined efforts of the parliamentary opposition parties can hope to muster.
In the meantime, the miners have arrived at the heart of Spain, in more than one sense.