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Mr Casado is a different kettle of fish altogether Casado has stated that “we can’t let millions of Africans in”

Foreigners giving even just a cursory glance at Spanish politics will know that in June of this year, the right-wing Popular Party (PP) was ousted from power thanks to a vote of no confidence tabled by the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). Largely unnoticed abroad, however, there has been another major political change: the PP’s former president Mariano Rajoy has been replaced by one Pablo Casado. Rajoy was an authoritarian, legalistic conservative who - with the exception of the police violence he inflicted on millions of Catalan citizens on Referendum Day (Oct.1st, 2017) - usually played by the book. Mr Casado is a different kettle of fish altogether. Gifted with a seemingly permanent smirk when addressing the public, Casado made his first headlines when he was still a spokesperson for the PP, by saying - before Referendum Day - that the then president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, “would end up like Lluís Companys’” (Companys was the democratically elected president of Catalonia who was forced into exile in France after Franco’s victory in 1939, arrested by the Gestapo at Franco’s behest in 1940, tortured in Madrid and then shot out of hand in Barcelona). This macabre prediction, however, turned out to be just the hors d’oeuvre for a veritable feast of unsavoury and duplicitous declarations made after Casado became the PP’s president. Among other things, he has expressed his belief that ’Spanish is not taught in Catalan schools’ (this is so false as to be barely worth denying); and according to him, the Catalan [political] prisoners are given special privileges in the Catalan prisons where they are currently being held (there are no such privileges, but there has recently been an outright demand for the prisoners’ release from AI); as for Catalonia itself, it is a “narcostate” (?) and a “dictatorship” (!); he has described the obviously peaceful pro-independence movement as “intrinsically violent”; and the yellow ribbons which bedeck much of Catalonia in protest against the imprisonment and exile of elected Catalan politicians and civic leaders, are, for the grin-laden Mr Casado, “totalitarian iconography”. While Catalonia is undoubtedly the biggest bee in Casado’s bonnet, he has also seen fit to opine on matters further afield. The Day of Spanishness, celebrated every October 12, commemorates, for Casado, “the most brilliant period of human history”, when Spain “transferred its culture, religion and history to so many different places at the same time, as no other nation had done before” (he omits to add that the same period saw the first widespread genocide of the modern era, with eight million Amerindians dying in the early years of the ’discovery’ alone). As for immigration, Casado has stated that “we can’t let millions of Africans in” and that, for him, is apparently that. Mr Casado’s imagination - so fertile when it comes to his statements on politics and history - is equally vivid when he applies it to himself. He claims he has a post-graduate degree from the University of Harvard, but forgets to mention that this was the result of a four day course which he took in Madrid. He also claims to have another post-graduate degree from Georgetown, which would have meant an 18-month stay in the States (he wasn’t there). There is also some doubt about his Master’s degree from Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University, given that he “couldn’t remember if he’d attended the classes or not” and definitely did not take the requisite exams. A Madrid judge wanted to take him to the Supreme Court on this issue, as there were “clear indications of criminal behaviour” but was stymied by his parliamentary immunity. In a nutshell, the future prime minister of Spain could well be this blimpish, abidingly smug, compulsively mendacious lawyer-without-a-degree. Assuming that Catalonia will still be participating in Spanish elections - by no means a given - it’ll be interesting to see how Mr Casado’s candidature affects the 4% of the popular vote that the PP currently enjoys here.

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