First, in yesterday’s summit, “Eurozone leaders draw up radical plan to safeguard Euro” says the Guardian contentedly.
Really? Well, they must be talking about a different plan, because all I can see is a band-aid which does nothing to address the fundamentals, like the moral hazard inherent in the system (in other words, that we give countries no incentives to behave themselves and
and Portugal will probably need another bailout soon as well). We have resolved nothing, and Europe's leaders are refusing to focus on the need for a long-term solution to the Euro’s problems. Ireland
A stunning failure of leadership all round: but it is emblematic of the EU’s approach to the problem that the deal was struck, not by high-level discussions involving a supranational institution, but in a cosy carve-up dinner between Sarkozy and Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday night.
And second, talking of stunning failures of leadership, the other news from yesterday was the climax of an extraordinary political drama in
, a country in the eye of the debt crisis storm. You may remember that Francisco Camps, the president of Spain , was about to enter a legal process which would almost certainly convict him of corruption and probably mean imprisonment. Could things get any worse for the opposition PP? Valencia region
Step forward PP prime-minister-in-waiting - in theory - Mariano Rajoy, who intervened to negotiate a plea-bargain, allowing Camps to get off with a fine, as long as he pleaded guilty to corruption. He agreed to sign, as did three other compatriots. The shocking things are numerous: that he was not suspended two years ago when this first arose; the failures of the legal system that mean that an alleged crook like Camps should be able to get away with a fine, sending entirely the wrong message to other crooks in Spanish politics; that the leader of the opposition should intervene in a legal trial at all, mainly to try and save own his scrawny neck; and finally that Rajoy should be prepared to allow a senior politician, who was prepared to admit in writing to being a corrupt liar, to stay on in his job as President of Valencia.
The final twist was then that at the eleventh hour, Camps reneged. He decided to resign as President and try and clear his name, although there seems precious little chance of that happening. For Rajoy, the problem is solved; but no-one can consider this a success. As the El País editorial described it: "not very honorable". That's a big understatement: the whole episode is shameful for a supposedly advanced democracy.
All in all, this sordid little affair means that there may well not be a change of government in Spain next year after all; that the Spanish have increased their already-considerable contempt for politicians; and that the economic problems which have festered under the PSOE will continue to get worse.
But hey, good job the Eurozone is in such safe hands, eh?