A qualification: not so tactical

Yesterday I wrote of Spain's Partido Popular that it "is mainly a tactical alliance for winning elections, sort of like other parties we know." That is, an organization where opportunity to win political power trumps ideology.

Not so fast. The party's biggest vote-getter, Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, has been excluded from the PP's electoral lists in a very public humiliation (orchestrated by his biggest in-party rival, Madrid region president Esperanza Aguirre) and is having to defend himself against attacks by the PPs favorite radio commentator, who in his program on the bishops' radio station COPE has repeatedly called him "traitor," an infiltrator from the Socialists, and a man who cares nothing about the victims of the 2004 Atocha train station bombing, etc.

The PP's putative leader, Mariano Rajoy, boasts of his and his party's "common sense," which would seem to imply pragmatism. His "common sense" consists of smiling blandly while harder-liners in his party tear each other apart. So I have to revise my original statement:

The Partido Popular is mainly a very loose tactical alliance among diverse factions pretending to agree on principles but actually seeking power for their own regional, ideological, or old-boy networks; the alliance functions only when the various factional bosses can see "there's something in it for me."

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