In politics, it is advisable to have many friends or supporters. You never know when you’re going to need them. But there are positions in which you only need one and you cannot lose it under any circumstances. This is what happens with Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Left for dead or cremated on several occasions, he would appear the next day in his office, as if he had only had to waste one more life. With the new Government, some thought that he would not come out of this alive. He had fulfilled his purpose and therefore his usefulness. Five years and five months after his arrival at the Ministry, he could only hope to be grateful for the services rendered.
There was one person who didn’t share that intuition and he was the only one who mattered for these things. Pedro Sánchez has confirmed him as Minister of the Interior, which in January will make him the holder who has spent the longest time in that portfolio. The conclusion cannot be any other. The president is satisfied with his controversial management and still believes that he can serve as a lightning rod in difficult situations. Which in Interior is almost all of them.
Regarding his management, public opinion does not think the same. In the October CIS survey, Marlaska’s assessment leaves him in the Government’s tailgate. Among those who know her name, 88%, receive an average score of 4.03, the third worst in the entire Cabinet. Only Irene Montero and Ione Belarra are behind. Other ministers with a very little leftist profile (Margarita Robles, 5.29, and Nadia Calviño, 5.21) enjoy much better numbers than hers.
The same survey grants logically better rating among socialist voters. They give it a 6.21. Among those from Sumar it is close to passing with a 4.97. The most negative opinion comes from voters of Vox (1.82), the PP (2.67) and EH Bildu (2.68).
Marlaska attracts rejection from the right, the extreme right and the independentists. In February of this year, this made it possible for him to be disapproved by Congress due to his management of the Melilla tragedy in which 23 immigrants died. It was presented by the PP and supported by Vox, Ciudadanos, ERC, Junts and the CUP. EH Bildu and PNV abstained.
As in other incidents at the border, the minister did not accept responsibility for any errors and questioned media reports. He stated that “no tragic event” took place on Spanish soil, as if that were the most important thing. His level of compassion for immigrants did not seem very high. Several videos showed a large number of them, apparently unconscious, lying on the Spanish side of the border.
Marlaska insisted that those who want to request asylum in Spain cannot jump the border violently. She has always ignored that they have no other alternatives. “In practice, there seems to be no other way to enter Melilla and request protection from the authorities than by swimming or jumping over the fence, risking your life,” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights on a visit to the Spanish city. .
In the face of events as serious as those in Melilla, it rains for everyone in the Government. However, Marlaska’s presence on the front line partly contributed to Sánchez escaping many of the attacks. Of course, neither Unidas Podemos nor the nationalist parties had any interest in defending the minister. Quite the contrary.
Upon arriving in Moncloa, Sánchez appointed him minister, because his conservative profile and professional origins as an investigating judge in the National Court differentiated him from the rest of the Cabinet in a portfolio in which the so-called reason of State frequently prevails over the ideological values of a match. Marlaska had previously been elected member of the General Council of the Judiciary at the proposal of the PP.
Curiously, the then judge denied that he was conservative in a letter to the editor sent to El País when he had presented himself as independent of the judicial associations in the vote for the election of the CGPJ in 2006. The strange thing was the reason given. He mentioned an interview in which he talked about his identity. “Since I am accused of belonging to a supposedly hard conservative sector, I would like to remind you of the interview (…) where, within the normality that I understand should guide all democratic coexistence, I recognized my homosexuality and how I had gotten married.”
The cause-effect relationship was debatable. Years later, as a minister, he denied that it was contradictory to be gay and to be right-wing: “No not at all. We are so equal to each otherbeing gay is so accidental that it does not allow further comment.”
If Sánchez thought that his very, fairly or slightly conservative ideology was going to serve as protection against the PP, he could not be more wrong. Precisely for this reason Marlaska has been one of the ministers most attacked by the right in Congress.
All this contempt was accentuated when the minister dismissed Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, one of the police stars for the PP, as head of the Madrid Civil Guard Command. Marlaska got into that hole alone with minimal explanations for the termination and versions that changed or expanded. The Supreme Court annulled the colonel’s dismissal for not being sufficiently motivated. People usually trust that a magistrate will not be caught for formal issues.
For police unions, which have become radicalized in recent years with the rise of Jusapol’s influence, Marlaska is another enemy. It is quite a surprise, since during the previous legislature the salary equalization with the regional police forces was carried out, implemented by the Rajoy Government, which has meant an immense salary increase for the agents. In addition, the workforce has increased with thousands more positions. No other profession among State officials has enjoyed such advantages.
Going all out on misinformation, Jusapol denounced that Marlaska was promoting the reform of the gag law with the intention of harming the agents, when the opposite was happening.
On that side, it doesn’t matter who is a minister. It doesn’t matter if he wears a fireproof suit or is scorched by life. Marlaska will continue to be the object of the fury of the right and the permanent distrust, if not rejection, of the left and the nationalists. For all these reasons, it is possible that he is the perfect profile for Sánchez in the Interior portfolio.
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