Thursday, January 09, 2003

In political news, Rodrigo Rato, economics minister and "vice prime minister", has officially announced that he'll be a candidate to succeed Prime Minister Aznar when he steps down at the end of 2004. He looks like he has a very good shot at the position, since he's known for being competent and boring. Spain has been into competent and boring for the last ten years or so, after fourteen years of charismatic Socialist leader Felipe González. Rato is not especially popular, but he's respected and not disliked. Aznar's wife, Ana Botella, who does not call herself "Ana Botella de Aznar" (nobody uses that formula any more), is going to run for a seat on the Madrid City Council. She's certainly intelligent and qualified enough. This wouldn't be something new around here; Felipe González's wife, Carmen Romero (according to rumor, she's the official wife and González has had a series of, uh, close female friends. Then again, Aznar is probably the only prominent male in Spain who isn't rumored to have had a series of extramarital affairs) was a Socialist deputy in Parliament for years; for all I know, she still is. Also, in France, both President Chirac and Prime Minister Raffarin's wives hold political posts, one on a city council somewhere and the other in a regional parliament. By the way, there's a nice sex scandal shaping up in Germany; Chancellor Schröder, according to the German sensationalist press, is having an affair with a well-known German female TV personality. He's suing a small paper that broke the story, but the biggest German paper, Bild, and the British Mail on Sunday have both headlined it. Schröder has already won one libel lawsuit; in May, he won a judgment against a news agency that had reported that he dyed his hair. Schröder apparently has rather Clintonian proclivities; he's currently on his fourth wife.

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