Posted by: puebloman | November 9, 2009

Rainbow politics: the mayors of the Axarquia

Spanish mayors (Alcaldes) like French mayors are powerful local politicians that shape not only the direction but the very culture of the community they represent. Their campaigning style is intensely personal and can be misunderstood by foreigners as corruption. In fact the culture here is to be enchufe – “plugged in”. The tradition of caiques in Spanish politics – political cliques that develop to advantage their single issue interest might lead the cynical stranger to feel that the community is sewn up against him.

There is however another side to all this. The Alcaldes who run our cluster of villages come from a rainbow spectrum of political affiliations and their personalities hone and condition the political and cultural life of the community that they run.

Almachar, where we live, recently threw out its PSOE   (Zapatero’s party, sort of “new labour”) Alcalde of 18 years and brought in the United Left.  This Alacalde, who assumed he had been elected for yet another term, was ascending the stairs to the stage where he was to give his acceptance speech, when he picked up the text on his mobile phone telling him he’d been defeated. There was literally wailing, tears and gnashing of teeth in the village, which had only wished to “teach him a lesson”, not to put him out of office (or so they said). But of course, power for 18 years is power for a very long time and, as we know, power corrupts. Some people in the village blamed us, the foreigner community, for swinging the vote ( the Alcaldes voted to  allow foreigners voting rights in local elections), so I’d like it noted that I voted PSOE, in spite of my strong conviction that two terms in office is quite enough for any politician.

Move up the hill to “El Borge” and you encounter the communist and highly theatrical mayor, the fabulous José Antonio Ponce. Ponce famously cut the electricity of the pueblo during a royal wedding, sent a box of condoms to the Pope, went on television to declare that 10% of all men of all pueblos are homosexuals ( the men of El Borge stoned him through the village shouting “which 10% of us?” but they voted him back in again). imagesHe has offerd the first gay couple to marry in El Borge a free holiday. Recently he has severed diplomatic relations with Israel, declaring that El Borge is the first “state” to do so. No doubt the Israeli cabinet is having to cancel all its planned holidays in El Borge! For renamed streets and squares El Borge boasts  el Avenuda Che Guevara and la Plaza la Passionaria. I love him!

Move up one village and you come to Cutar (where we work). The Alcade is PP – Partida Popular – the Franquista party. Everyone you talk to will tell you that they vote for the man and not for the party. Well . . the Alcalde doesn’t actually live in the village, he lives in Torremolinos – a sign of prosperity (to have escaped from the village) and we all know that this is a sign of strength if you are a conservative. Enough said.

Move down the hill and turn left and you’ll come to Benamargosa, whose mayor is PA – the Andalucian party. The great founder of the Andalucian Independence Party, Blas Infante was murdered by Franco in 1936. In Benamargosa, there are English representatives on the council so there’s hope for all of us.

Turn right down the same road and you come to Benamoccara, the village of the poets. Benamoccara is run by the glorious Abdeslam Jesús Aoulad Lucena. Ade, as his friends call him, is a Muslim. He is 23 years old, son of a Moroccan father and a Spanish mother. He is the youngest chief councillor in Andalucía. None of his council is more than 26 years of age .Benamocarra

Lest this council be thought to be a little young for the responsibilities of State, lets remember that historically it’s at this age that young men risk their lives for their beliefs.  Certainly, if fascist trucks were rumbling to olive groves for dawn executions as they were only 70 years ago, Abdeslam Jesús Aoulad Lucena and his friends might have been put onto one.

And it may be that those who shape the coming  world are young men in their prime . . .


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