To say that, at this point, Cristina Cifuentes wouldn't be president of the autonomous community of Madrid in a minimally serious country for the schemes around her shadowy Masters from King Juan Carlos University, isn't saying much. After her shameful appearance before the regional Assembly and both PSOE and Podemos calling for her immediate resignation after not having been able to refute the accusations against her, the story is no longer about why she's not resigning, but the reasons for Ciudadanos to look the other way and strengthen her in the role. That party, always ready to give any kind of lessons to anyone, picked the president up in the middle of the clear disgrace, kept her upright in the ring as the opposition criticism became interminable and limited themselves to asking for an investigatory commission. An embarrassing attitude given how the parliamentary session turned out and which shows up Albert Rivera's party, which makes noise when its votes aren't necessary and which slips away when responsibility depends on its political action.
Cifuentes is trapped. She knows it and her party, the Partido Popular, is starting to realise it. Fourteen days after eldiario.es broke the Madrid president's scandal, she hasn't been able to offer even a single document in her defence, not even the shadowy Masters thesis which she supposedly wrote whilst the central government's delegate to the autonomous community. And which was delivered to the university on the day events were being held in Madrid in tribute to the Spanish national football team, which had won the 2012 Euros. Her brilliant political career could soon be over, however much the party's central headquarters on Madrid's calle Génova or the Moncloa government palace try to protect her.
It's a curious situation the PP is going through: when Mariano Rajoy's leadership is weakest in the eyes of public opinion and surveys are forecasting their worst results in the upcoming elections, the contenders to take over from him are falling one by one as their names gain prominence: María Dolores de Cospedal fell over her management of the Bárcenas corruption scandal; Soraya Saénz de Santamaría fell over her management of the Catalan conflict, where she made a mess of everything. Now Cifuentes is falling, just as she felt herself strongest and aspired to make the jump to Spanish politics. It's not strange that no one in the PP publicly aspires to take over the leadership and all moves are being made behind the scenes. As the saying goes: May God defend me from my friends, I'll take care of my enemies.
P.S. (only for those with suspicious or conspiratorial minds): Spain's National Police has arrested Hervé Falciani for extradition to Switzerland, an expert in computing systems who is alleged to have released the so-called Falciani list with names of clients of Swiss bank HSBC. Arrested in 2012 in Barcelona, it's always been said following an agreement with US authorities, he spent a few months in prison and has been free from May 2013 until now. The new and surprising arrest has happened at a time when Spain has asked for the extradition of ERC's secretary general, Marta Rovira, which it seems the Swiss authorities are very unlikely to acquiesce to. Is Spain trying an exchange?