Elections in Spain
The first TV debate: The PP mentions the immigration problem
Even if there is no substantial development regarding the campaign for the National Parliamentary Elections in Spain, there is plenty of news in these first days of the official campaign. The main one has been the first TV debate between Zapatero and Rajoy. I am rather skeptical about those debates; I have serious doubts that they have ever changed the mind of a meaningful proportion of the electorate. In any case, this has been the most relevant event up to now.
I have to say that I did not see the debate. What for? I have just read the part on “social issues” (Spanish transcription), which includes some references to immigration by Rajoy. This part of the debate was opened by Rajoy, who mentioned immigration as a new social issue and referred to the “crowding out” effect in social services. He mentioned the figures of new immigrants:
In the year 2005 more than 700,000 [immigrants] entered Spain; in 2006, more than 670,000; more than France, Germany and the United Kingdom altogether. In the year 2007, more than 725,000; again, more than France, Germany and United Kingdom altogether, and we are the second country, only the USA has a higher number of foreign residents.
Yes this is an immigration tsunami. Zapatero did not answer and changed the topic to his social achievements: that is, the increase in spending. Rajoy reproached him for refusing to deal with immigration. He went on with the figures:
I gave you the official information from your Government, on residence permits: in June, 2004 there were in Spain 1,776,000 regular foreign residents. In December, 2007 there were 3.9 million, that is to say more of the double. For you this seems not to be a problem, but there are people to whom this is actually a problem: those who want a place in the school [for their children], who want vouchers for the school canteens, which want access to public housing; it is necessary to manage that the rights of each one, because they all have rights evidently; do not harm others’ rights.- - - - - - - - -
For you this does not matter, but for me it does. Also the fact that 10% of the foreigners, being only 10 per cent, account for 34% of the population in jail; 40% in Catalonia. Do you know why this happens? Because there is no control; we need order and control; this is what must be done: legal immigration with a contract, fighting against illegal immigration and, of course, an “integration contract”; not to forget: we have all equal rights and obligations; we are equal in duties and in opportunities.
Finally, the “moderate right” dares to link immigration and criminality. I have serious doubts that the PP would really tackle the issue. Rajoy just proposes to control immigration, but what we need is to stop it, in particular the immigration from Morocco. At least, it shows that the PP would be receptive to the pressure of an anti-immigration party.
I will not elaborate on the other parts of the debate. If interested you can consult the Iberian Notes (Monday, February 25, 2008) and the results of the different polls on who the winner was. I agree with the conclusion. Rajoy was better, but he did not at all knock out Zapatero. We will have to see the second debate (I think I will see it this time, even if I have already decided on my vote). It seems that it will be interesting.
Zapatero has declined to attend two events he had already accepted, one organized by the Spanish blind association, another by the second largest university in Madrid. Some malevolent tongues suggest that he needs some extra time to prepare the second debate.
PS: The most notorious association of Spanish Muslim converts has asked the Muslims to vote for Zapatero (Spanish).