The plenary hall of the Ourense City Council is not the most peaceful place for Galician politics. It is chaired by Gonzalo Pérez Jácome, a right-wing populist at the head of Democracia Ourensana. He obtained the baton thanks to the support of the Popular Party and the acquiescence of his old nemesis, José Manuel Baltar. It is he who now, this very week, is demanding, along with the socialist and nationalist opposition, his resignation. The reason? That the person who wore King Baltasar’s costume in the parade on January 6, hired by the town hall, had been convicted twice for sexual abuse. But Jácome endures, despite the succession of slip-ups, scandals and hooliganism, and has turned the city, the third largest in Galicia by population, into a laboratory of political impunity – the surveys do not predict major changes – and bizarreness.
Ourense has seen almost everything in the last three and a half years of municipal mandate. That Núñez Feijóo himself had described a hypothetical Jácome government as “lethal” was the least of it: he did not hesitate to reverse course of events and authorize a coalition cabinet between his party and Democracia Ourensana. In exchange, this formation guaranteed Baltar’s continuity at the head of the only one of the four councils under popular command. The experiment lasted as long as Baltar wanted. In the summer of 2020 he started an operation to try to take him down.
Against all odds he didn’t make it. Jácome resisted and the PP ended up returning to the local government. He came out of it again in July of last year. He had announced a new candidate, Manuel Cabezas –actually not so new, he was mayor between 1995 and 2007, until the Baltars took over for him–, and Jácome thought it was disloyalty. After 15 days he expelled them. The convulsions followed one another, while the PSOE –the most voted list– and the Bloc denounced the management paralysis. And almost everything else. The government area of the town hall is currently occupied by Jácome and three other councillors. The plenary session has 27 seats.
The PP now shows its indignation over Jácome’s actions. And although it took him almost five days to ask for the same thing that the left has been asking for all week, he has ended up taking the step: Jácome’s resignation for what happened in the parade. The conservatives add to the same arguments as the Bloque and PSOE and recall that the current law obliges the presentation of a negative certification from the Central Registry of sex offenders for activities and trades that involve regular contact with minors. “It is extremely serious that one of the three protagonists [of the Three Kings parade] was a convicted repeat offender for sexual abuse,” the PP finally concluded. The matter will foreseeably reach the ordinary plenary session this Friday. The mayor has not yet offered explanations. Who knows if he will do it
But Baltar and the PP did not take another recent and extemporaneous performance by Jácome so to heart. It was when, in a fit of anger, he reacted with a violent push against a Comisiones Obreiras trade unionist who, megaphone in hand, was participating in the demonstration resulting from an indefinite strike on public transport. The councilor defended himself a few hours later in a video on the official Twitter account of the town hall: he had been “in self-defense” and in response to an “acoustic attack”. On that occasion, the PP, despite the evidence of the images captured by the media, took him with tweezers. It had been a mistake, he argued, and summoned him to apologize. He did not support the condemnation raised by the Socialist Party and BNG, much less the demand for a resignation. Jácome, it was just missing, he did not apologize. Comisiones Obreiras denounced him in the courts. It all happened in May 2022 and the Popular Party was still part of his cabinet.
The mayor of Democracia Ourensana continued, in any case, a fan of communicating by video and social networks. His images in the Outariz hot springs, on the banks of the Miño river, together with the reggaeton singer Omar Montes, whom he also accompanied to eat the octopus – “thank you, president”, says Montes in a video and Jácome invokes: “Let the all famous in Spain ”–, they jumped to the press. And to the courts. The mayor has announced a lawsuit after the PSOE accused him of charging the city council with the expenses of his tours with the reggaeton singer, who performed in Ourense on December 16 and summoned more than 2,000 people. The parade and its Baltasar convicted of sexual abuse – it was uncovered by the local newspaper La Región – extinguished the Montes controversy.
The newspaper La Región precisely starred in another event in which Baltar and Jácome were involved.In the last week of December, a court annulled for the second time the purchase of the newspaper’s historical archive by the Deputation of Ourense. The price, 2.7 million euros. The ruling was based on the fact that the provincial entity had used the figure of “credit generation” in this second attempt, which “is not adequate.” The opinion also stopped at the first: despite the fact that the Superior Court of Xustiza de Galicia ruled in February 2020 that the operation was illegal, the parties had not complied with the terms of the judicial decision. And they were already trying to repeat the play.
Jácome’s role in the La Región case dates back to its beginning: the investigation began due to a complaint by Democracia Ourensana prior to the 2019 government pact between Jácome and Baltar. And it is that the first had been the scourge of the second until they decided to govern together and thus close the path to the left. If the demoscopy is followed, however, the scenario will not differ much in May 2023. The Sondaxe survey published a month ago by La Voz de Galicia forecasts nine councilors for the Socialist Party –the same ones it has now–, nine for the PP –two more–, six for Jácome –one less– and three for the BNG –one more. The mayor seemed to celebrate it in his Christmas video: in it he does a split between two planes while holding a group of people on his shoulders. “A good mayor must not only carry the weight of the city council on his shoulders, he must give wings to his women and men,” he says. The original idea, and the computer generated images, belong to the actor Chuck Norris.