The former chairman of the Spanish bank, Rodrigo Rato (Reuters).
Ángel Collado 05/12/2012 (06:00 AM CET)
The removal of Rodrigo Rato, Bankia’s former chairman, has provoked a trauma among the veterans in the political leadership of the governing centre-right Popular party.
Rato, a fellow party member, as well as former finance minister and deputy prime minister in José María Aznar’s government, was forced to step down as head of the troubled Spanish bank this week. He was ousted by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as part of the rescue plan for the bank, which will be nationalized, as announced on Thursday.
A militante of the party, Rato stirs up feelings as he leaves and former colleagues already speculate whether this is the end of a long political career or whether Rato will be back. Some are confident he will, saying few have his capacity to resurrect.
The first proof of this was his comeback after he lost the position as Aznar’s successor to lead the party to Rajoy in 2004, the same year as PP lost the general elections after eight years in government. Only weeks later, Rato succeeded in becoming the one among the party leadership with the highest institutional rank, when appointed managing director of the International Monetary Fund, while others were left as opposition deputies.
A second resurrection occurred on his return to Spain, when he convinced Rajoy to put him as head of Caja Madrid, a Spanish savings bank that would later turn into Bankia by the fusion with six other banks, and Rato was reincarnated as a banker. He was the undisputed candidate of the party, and for those close to Rajoy, it was better to keep the former political rival at a distance.
Some of those who used to support Rato now admit that he may have been wrong in going into the banking sector, despite his ambition to lead the process of the fusion and purchase of banks that could turn him into one of the major leaders in the European financial sector. Instead, all he was left with was to spend months trying to save Bankia, the entity that has been identified as the worst troublemaker in the Spanish banking sector.
The battle to save the bank has been a shared effort between the Ministry of Economy and Rato, with Rajoy as a last resort for advise, while the rest of the government has been left outside.
In the current PP government there are almost as many ratistas, those in favor of Rato, as marianistas, those in favor of Rajoy. During the years in opposition, many of Rato’s supporters in the party went into leading roles in the autonomous regions or in the parliamentary groups, while at the party headquarters, they were marginalized, and they remain so even more today.
It is still too early for Rato to begin to think of what will come next, and for PP to worry about his future. His most strongest supporters, however, don’t doubt that he will try to come back, again, although it may take some time.
This article was translated and edited by Stina Lunden.
MORE IN ECONOMY & BUSINESS
CRISIS IN SPAIN’S INDUSTRIAL SECTOR
Carlos Sánchez (06:00).- The statistics give a clear picture: these are bad times for Spain’s industrial sector and things are not getting better. The figures don’t reflect the prevailing economic situation at a specific time and aren’t exclusively...
THE GOVERNMENT PUTS PRESSURE ON MAJOR BANKS
E. S. / M. L. (06:00).- From the Moncloa, the headquarter of the Spanish government, pressure is increasing on the major Spanish banks, following their initial rejection, to participate with capital in the ‘bad bank,’ according to sources close to the...
PARADOXICAL RESULT OF FISCAL AMNESTY
Eduardo Segovia (06:00).- The fiscal amnesty launched by the Spanish government in order to regulate capital gains hidden from the tax authorities will have a paradoxical result. It will be successful when it comes to the capital that will be regulated, but it will bring...