Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Thirteen properties

In this country we are really into speculation, which is why we like radio talk shows, where professional talkers speculate about this and that, but never finish a story

In this country we are really into speculation. I don't mean real estate speculation (that too) but just speculation. This is why we like radio talk shows, where professional talkers speculate about this and that. And we never finish a story. Of the corruption cases that come up in the news, very few ever have a clear outcome.

Last week (to look no further) we saw a textbook example. One day we wake up and hear that the infanta has sold 13 real estate properties. No more, no less than 13, as if to awaken interest among fans of the occult. Immediately a flood of verbiage ensues, about the transparency of the Royal Household and so on. Then the Royal Household ups and denies that these properties were ever sold, or even owned. The Finance Ministry says it was all a mistake, and then the talk shows release a flood of verbal diarrhea, all pure speculation, about the nature of the mistake.

The more I hear, the less I understand. I suspect the talkers understand even less, though that is no reason for shutting up, because they get paid for talking. But what will the outcome be, or will there be one? The minister, Montoro, who is to be thanked for the good laughs he gives us on a fairly regular basis, flaps his arms as if they were wings and tells the journalists in mock reproach: "Don't look for a cloak-and-dagger explanation; you always see cloak and dagger."

His explanation, that it is all due to a mistake in reading an ID card, is so sick that it makes you want to see the advent not of the Third Republic, but the Fourth.

Of the corruption cases that come up in the news, very few ever have a clear outcome

What you do see coming, given the country's knack for never bringing any of its stories to a close, is that a day will come when the talk shows tire of discussing the 13 properties, and sink their teeth into some other matter that offers chewier meat. Spain is living in an interminable X-file. I greatly fear that the next meal for the talk shows will be the former chairman of the old Caja Madrid savings bank, Miguel Blesa, a man who is in and out of jail as if stuck in a revolving door. And like a revolving door, one day Princess Cristina is implicated in a scandal, the next day she is not, and soon it turns out that perhaps tomorrow they will declare her a suspect once again.

All this (just to look on the bright side) is very good exercise for the brain: as if one day the government proposed to us a different problem, as an intellectual exercise, leaving up to us the possible solution of the case; and then, once we had entertained ourselves working out imaginative theories, proposed another problem to us, obliging us to set aside the previous day's problem unresolved, and take up another.

For a nation whose average age is getting higher, this kind of mental gymnastics is highly beneficial. This must be why, at the end of every talk show worth its salt, a voice is heard saying that, unlike the rigidity of the Anglo-Saxon world, we Spaniards are masters at improvisation, the kings of flexibility. How not to be, with so many emotions tumbling along on top of each other? Quite another matter is finding out the truth of each question. The talk-show tides will wash away the case of the 13 properties, the case of the PP spies tapping PP telephones, the case of the layoff subsidies fiddle in Andalusia, and even the Bárcenas papers.

The curtain will fall, not because anyone wrote the word "end," but just because we are tired of listening. Someone we hear in a bar will say "bah, those are all just political rackets," and an opinion survey will show that Spanish people are disillusioned with their politicians. Someone on a talk show will remind us that pessimism is a breeding ground for demagogy; and on another station Revilla, the ex-premier of Cantabria, will sing a Habanera.

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