However she spells her name – and Carme Chacón likes to change the spelling depending where she is in Spain- the ex-minister of Defense can be sure of one thing: if she loses the PSOE leadership fight, Rubalcaba will sink her without mercy.
Carme was a PSOE bigwig in the previous administration who became the first ever female Minister of Defense under Zapatero (she famously travelled to Afghanistan while pregnant) and did bugger all else. She briefly went off to Catalunya to take the regional PSOE party -the PSC- into the regional elections, and was beaten hands down by the nationalist Artur Más, mainly because she cocked up the election fight bigtime.
Artur -who has since imposed huge austerity cuts across the region- entered the fight in a fairly reasonable way, pointing out the deficit in Catalunya, the economic recession, and the need for urgent and swinging cuts if Catalunya was the balance the books. Carme meanwhile authorised a series of underhand political adverts, personal attacks and nonsensical manifestos that treated the Catalunyans like idiots, with the results that the PSC was almost wiped out in the regional elections. Internal figures at the time pointed the finger of blame squarely at her.
She now has her sights set on bigger things, namely the leadership of the PSOE, and her strategy hasn’t really changed. She’s trying to undermine incumbent Rubalcaba with a series of personal attacks, and is trying to polarise the PSOE party by saying it’s more of the same with Rubalcaba, or a Thatcher moment with herself. Frankly, I don’t care which of them gets in.
Carmen’s father was born in Olula but fled the area to go to Barcelona and become a fireman, where he later married and had Carme. So she claims to be Catalan in Catalunya (hence the Carme) and Andaluz in Andalucian (Carmen) and Spanish everywhere else (¡Carmeta! in Castille). This strategy seems to be backfiring, as she’s now known as Catalan in Andalucia and Andaluz in Catalunya. Still.
She addressed this problem on Thursday in Olula when she said “Carme, Carmeta or Carmen, as you say here. I grew up listening to Fandangos but I feel very Catalan and I have the pleasure of sharing this plurality, our duty is to search for this agreement throughout all the villages of Spain”.
Oh, the reason why she now wants to be known as Andaluz, and launched her leadership campaign from Olula del Rio, is because she’s hoping for a strong wave of support from the Andalucian socialists, who are currently one of the most powerful blocs in the party. It doesn’t seem to be working as on Sunday she received fewer than half the guarantors that Rubalcaba did, when she put her name forwards for the leadership battle.
The leadership battle was launched from the hotel La Tejera in Olula del Rio and was supported by around 600 people. The Mayor of Olula excitedly told Europa Press that “anything that gets the name of the village out there is welcome, and this is the biggest thing to hit the village in years”.