Talk about Saving Private Ryan. Here, too, from May onward, we have witnessed an operation with the objective of saving president Dívar, and keeping him at the head of the General Council of the Judiciary, after it emerged that he had spent at least 32 "Caribbean" weekends in luxury hotels at public expense, in the company of a favored bodyguard.
This operation mobilized figures such as the justice minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, who loyally spoke up for Dívar; the deputy Speaker of Congress, Celia Villalobos, who, when it was proposed that Dívar be summoned before a congressional commission, adduced (fallaciously, and against the custom of recent years) the strict separation of powers between the legislative and judiciary branches; and the deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, who sought out the cellphone numbers of the other Council members to solicit their support for the beleaguered president.
This is an embarrassing episode, entirely characteristic of the recent degradation of our democracy. A cavalier attitude to democratic procedures, which was already manifest in the takeover of public broadcaster RTVE by means of a Decree Law modifying the system of choosing the corporation's president, so that it no longer requires a majority of three-fifths of the Chamber, and a simple majority (which the PP has) is enough.
This is a very grave decision, which enables the PP to bring to an end the nascent independence of RTVE, returning it to its old condition as a slavishly obedient domestic servant of the government, from which it had been freed by the three-fifths majority law promoted by Zapatero.
The PP seems to want to use public television as an eyedropper for daily doses of propaganda to render the public more docile, like the saltpeter the army was said to put in the troopers' food to calm their libidinous drives.
The list includes the tolerant passivity shown to the police and Finance Ministry reports, received by the judges Pablo Ruiz and José Ceres, which demonstrate the illegal financing of the PP. Funds that in 2007 and 2008, through the Gürtel corruption network, served to pay for electoral rallies in Madrid and Valencia, when the unforgettable Francisco Camps was regional premier.
The PP seems to want to use public television as an eyedropper for daily doses of propaganda to render the public more docile
Meanwhile, the all-in fight goes on to obtain the favors of the gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson. We hear calls for no less than the disappearance of the Constitutional Court when it issues an unpleasing ruling. For tax evaders, there is an amnesty; for the PP politicians involved in pillaging the regional savings banks, a cover-up. The distance between what is well known and what gets published is growing.
Which brings us back to the Dívar case. It is well known that before last Saturday's plenary session of the Council, the secretary of state for justice, Fernando Román, called Jesús Chamorro, president of the Magistracy Professional Association (conservative and representing a majority of judges), to warn him that Dívar had to be kept in his post, and that withdrawing confidence in him would be considered a "declaration of hostilities."
Meanwhile, a Council member stated that Sáenz de Santamaría had been pressuring the Basque National Party (PNV) to back Dívar. At a subsequent press conference, Sáenz admitted to the PNV calls, but said they were not pressure, and that those who considered them to be ought to be giving explanations instead of her.
This kind of short-circuiting of democratic procedures is not without its long-term cost. And the explanation that I think many of us would like to hear is why the PP has been going to such lengths to save Dívar anyway. Is this Hobbit the bearer of some magic ring?