surinenglish

The mayor's new clothes

Of all the election results produced in the province of Malaga on 26 May, the most overwhelming was in Estepona, where José María García Urbano of the Partido Popular gained 69 per cent of the votes and 21 out of 25 seats on the council. It was the best result obtained in Spain by a candidate in towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants. Delving into the democratic history of the province there has never been a similar result. Not even Jesús Gil, at the height of his popularity, when prosperity - albeit with an expiry date and mortgage repayments for several generations - generated an illusion that the majority refused to see through, gained such a great electoral victory.

They are not comparable situations though, as there's an essential difference: García Urbano has achieved this result by legitimate means, without the slightest hint of illegality or abuse of power and with the simple resource of having put public funds to good use and kept his election promises. He was, without a doubt, the great victor of the municipal elections.

Such success is most certainly what every politician aspires to. But getting there is not as simple as it looks. One of the best lessons you can learn from sport, and why sport should be compulsory from an early age, is how to register defeat without giving way to frustration, or how to enjoy victories without being tempted by arrogance, because all victory is temporary. You don't just have to learn how to lose, but also learn how to win.

As he was officially sworn in as mayor for the third time, García Urbano did two things that were certainly surprising. The first was to reproach the four opposition councillors, after not allowing them to speak at the session, for not voting for him. The second was to call his children after he had received his mayor's staff and chains so he could hand them over to them. "For continuity," he said.

As well as highlighting a worrying confusion between public and private, with this move he seemed to forget that at the moment the only hereditary job established by the Constitution is that of the Head of State. For all the rest, lineage and heritage do no good. You have to go to the polls and the job expires after four years. However large your victory.

Since Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Emperor's New Clothes, we've known that the most valuable assistant, the sincerest friend is not one who flatters but one who points out his mistakes.

García Urbano should find himself one of the latter kind, because the best favour you can do for a king if he's got no clothes on is to tell him.

And for a mayor, as well.