Saturday, October 21, 2006

I just watched the debate on TV3 and here are my notes, at least as best as I can read them:

Host Josep Cuni: Why an early election? Mas is Mr. Spinmeister, Pique is lounging, Cuni is wearing an ugly tie. Mas blasts the Tripartite, Montilla is uncomfortable, he's reading a script, brags about Tripartite social spending, so does Carod. Carod makes big deal out of Salamanca papers. Pique is a little uncomfortable with his hand to his face, now he's OK, says Tripartite has looked foolish, he's the first to show some spirit and leave the script. Saura isn't wearing a tie like a good Communist, talks about more spending. Mas smooth, takes credit for social spending "achievements."

"If you did such a great job why are we holding an early election?" --Mas

Montilla's a nerd, he doesn't speak Catalan much better than I do, but he doesn't express himself well in Spanish either. Pique points out that turnout in this election will be less than 50%; fails to take advantage of the opportunity to call on marginal PP voters who often don't vote in regional elections. He's articulate, able to improvise. Carod's surprisingly reasonable, he's a pro debater but he's memorized these lines and it shows. Saura is repeating himself, now he's trying to appeal to the small-town vote. Mas is running on Convergence's 23-year record in the Generalitat before the Tripartite took over. "We didn't have to hold any early elections." --Mas

Mas is the best. Now he tries to disassociate himself from the PP and brings up the Carmelo subway tunnel cave-in. He refers to a report and remarks, "I'm translating from English." "You were in power eight years thanks to the PP," says Pique, who then refers to "Mr. Saura, who is so ecologistic and green," while criticizing opposition to the old PP national water plan shot down by the Zap government. Cuni is starting to lose control of the debaters, especially Mas.

"We've created a new culture of water," says Saura, whatever that means. Montilla is a zero, completely overcome by stage fright. Pique pats him on the arm. Montilla is extremely tense. Carod appeals to the long-term future while Pique smiles rather patronizingly at Montilla. Montilla's voice is down to nothing. Saura has to take over and defend the Tripartite.

"Forget about Aznar. Look at the past and into the future," says Mas, trying to shrug off past CiU deals with the PP. He goes too far and Pique flares up: "I am not questioning the democratic value of the statute (regional constitution) and don't say I am." Now Pique and Mas are sniping at one another and Cuni tries to retake control. Montilla reads his speech again, more social spending, he is not smooth at all. Tremendous stage fright. This man might be about to lose his dignity.

Now Carod brings up immigration, as a typical blood and soil national socialist would. He says it would hurt the working and middle classes. He's also in favor of better health care, by the way. Pique is rather sardonic, but he comes out with the first original thought, saying immigration is Europe's most serious problem and it must be dealt with at all levels of government from the EU to municipalities. Saura promises to spend more money. "We want rights, not vouchers," he says; Mas has promised vouchers for everyone for everything. Saura wants more public housing. Mas piles on Montilla, promises "good government versus bad government." Mas might make a good candidate in the States. Pique reminds me of Bob Dole.

Now Montilla acts like a jerk, trying to catch Pique with a childish rhetorical trick. He repeats Saura's line, "rights instead of vouchers." Everyone else looks bored. Carod cites more stats proving the Tripartite spent a lot of money. He says, "If we don't administrate taxes here in Catalonia, we won't have social justice here." Pique throws a line to Montilla, saying, "I agree with something Mr. Montilla said about immigration, that we must take it seriously." Montilla: "Neither Clos nor I has ever supported 'papers for everyone'...I believe immigration must be limited." Saura says vouchers would take resources from the public sector and transmit them to the private. I wonder how creative and tenderly passionate Saura feels when his iife-partner Imma begins to slowly but firmly caress his--oh, never mind.

Mas accuses Montilla of having the same position on immigration as the Zap government in Madrid. Pique keeps touching Montilla's arm, trying to buck him up. Mas and Saura face off on tax cuts for those who learn foreign languages, and then Mas accuses Montilla of voting for the PP. The debate is clearly out of control now and Cuni calls for a commercial break. They run an ad for La Caixa that has Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as the background music.

Now Cuni challenges the candidates to explain how they will pay for everything they promised. Carod brings up immigration again--Esquerra thinks it's found a hot button!--and says, "Catalonia should have the right to decide how many people come every year...We can't pay for the health care of all of Africa." He adds, "Those who live here without integrating will always be immigrants," in a shot at the charnegos. And he wants consumer products to be labeled in Catalan. Now he repeats, "What about the people who were here already?" Carod Le Pen.

Cuni tries to regain control and get Carod back to the subject of taxes, and Carod BSs for a while. He actually talks about using market incentives to foment economic growth, and he's also against bureaucracy." Pique fires back, "When Carod talks about 'our country's language,' he should remember there are three." He then praises Carod for "joining the liberals' club," in the European sense of the word. Now he goes after CiU and the Tripartite for the crappy state of the educational system--"very bad quality," says Pique. He's Mr. Sensible, globalization forcing us to adapt and all that.

Saura repeats that there isn't enough social spending and that Catalonia is eight percentage points below the EU average, however that's calculated. I wonder how tender and passionate he is when Imma is wearing that special pink nightie--oh, never mind. Now he goes off on the environment and appeals to the countryside again--most of the Commie vote is found in the metro area. Montilla had gotten confused and could only name Sweden as a social democratic country which Catalonia should take as an example; Saura names the others, you know, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, all very tender and affectionate countries, I must say.

Mas repeats his promises to raise pensions, etc. etc., and adds that his proposed spending increases would mean less than a 5% increase in the budget, however that's calculated, and challenges Catalonia to rise to the occasion. He also wants to eliminate the inheritance tax, appealing to petty-bourgeois CiU voters "who have worked hard and want to leave something to their families." Montilla says the Tripartite spent a lot and is proud of it, and that the new statute will bring in more revenues to spend. He promises he will reduce the inheritance tax, and then bumf. He is still very wooden and nervous.

Carod wants fewer regulations that interfere with business, but more bureaucrats! That is, a "facilitator" for small businesses at every city hall. Sounds to me like just somebody else you have to bribe. Pique criticizes the rest for being simplistic and points that reducing taxes does not necessarily mean reducing revenues. He points out that the PP government in Spain reduced income taxes twice and it worked very well, and then gives a short lecture on classical economics. Saura wants 8% more social spending--I think he means percentage points--in order to reach the EU average and so is against cutting any taxes. Then he gets confused on his figures, or at least he confuses me.

Mas says, "CiU is always in favor of cutting taxes," and he and Pique snipe at each other over the budget, a subject only they seem to understand. Mas says, "Nobody is listening to what you say because you can't govern in Catalonia." Mas points out that in Sweden, "which Montilla says he admires," the Socialist government abolished the inheritance tax. Carod has a good line, quoting Josep Pla: "Sweden's wonderful, but Catalonia's problem is that there aren't any Swedes here."

Then Carod starts bitching about Madrid and Pique slaps him down for comparing two distinct things, calling it "a cheap argument. Let's not mix things up. We were talking about the inheritance tax." Montilla is lost, saying that everyone wants low taxes but good services too. He wants to modify the inheritance tax but not eliminate it, saying "Bill Gates is in favor of inheritance taxes. He is terribly out of place, seems about to choke or even cry. Mas picks on him. Mas: "We only supported the PP until 2001 when it went down the path we have seen." He wastes Montilla, who is unable to name a specific, but does remind Mas that CiU conspired with the PP. Then Saura talks about Sweden, where he and his common-law wife Imma once passionately and caringly...uh, never mind.

Mas drops a bomb. "In 2004, you, Mr. Montilla, were the first person in the Spanish government to announce an appeal against the statute, before even Ibarra and Bono." He's clearly painted Montilla as a Spanish politician first. Pique says, "The new statute doesn't solve anything," as he removes his glasses. He adds, "Saura is honest, he wants the Tripartite government to continue after the election. We will be honest too; we will negotiate with anyone." He then challenges the rest to say what they will do after the election.

Saura makes no sense on the budget, but says he won't deal with the PP or CiU. Mas says, "We won't govern with the PP," and then accuses the PP of having "used Catalonia for partisan ends." Pique says, "Nonsense." Mas is good, improvising. Montilla can't get in a word. Cuni is pissed, saying, "You're not obeying the rules you agreed to." He gives Montilla his turn and here comes the prerecorded speech again. "We want to negotiate," he says, and adds, "We'll say the same thing here and in Madrid, in Catalan and in Spanish." Now he rather pathetically goes after Mas: "The Catalans don't believe you when you say you won't deal with the PP...A politician who goes to a notary is ridiculous. We can't trust you."

Carod says they'll deal with anyone but the PP, and then unloads some more bumf. Mas charges Carod with making a deal with Zapatero, but they've pretty well cornered Mas into saying he won't make a deal with the PP. Mas slams the Tripartite hard. Looks like a bit of a bully. Montilla is out of play. Cuni cuts Mas off. Now Saura says he wants a leftist government--he's suddenly afraid that CiU might win and be forced to cut a deal with the Socialists, leaving them out of power. Carod points out that he has one surname that is not Catalan, and that Montilla has two. Montilla saves some dignity though the stress shows. Mas goes on the attack again and Pique calls him arrogant. He is pissed now, and says, "More humility. You went too far."

Mas fires back, saying again, "You, Mr. Pique, have used all of Catalonia," and then brings up the dread names Zaplana and Acebes. Pique explodes and threatens to leave. Cuni cuts in with, "I cannot allow any more," aimed directly at Mas. He's pissed now and gives them all a lecture. Now everybody gets thirty seconds.

Saura: In the last three years there have been problems, but we have made many improvements. So if you want more government subsidies, vote for us. And we're moral. And my partner and I have a creative and passionate sex life.

Pique: If you think what's happened in the last three years is negative, vote for us.

Carod: Bumf.

Montilla, memorized: "Catalans don't want a conservative government or a nationalist front."

Mas, back to normal: "Bumf. And the Tripartite sucks."

Now it's over and they all pretend to laugh. Tango and Cash comes on.

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