The dismantling of the democratic rule of law in Spain?

Although some call me a catastrophist, I think I do not exaggerate if I say, after hearing the demands of Carles Puigdemont to allow the investiture of Pedro Sanchez as President of the Government, That what he is calling for is the dismantling of the democratic rule of law in Spain as enshrined in the Constitution of 1978. Or, if you prefer, the recognition that we do not have a rule of law worthy of such a name, which is the thesis of the Catalan independentists since the failure of the Procés.

In that sense, it is paradoxical that to stop a PP government with the far right of Vox that could put at risk the progress achieved after the end of the dictatorship, already a whopping 45 years ago, it is necessary to resort to another party of extreme right xenophobic, Whose links with Putin are being investigated, which shares a political group with Vox in the European Parliament, which is led by a person who, in addition to showing obvious features of messianism, is He is a fugitive from the Spanish justice system who considers himself an “exile” persecuted by an anti-democratic and authoritarian state. And just at the moment when independence is weaker in Catalonia. A case worthy of study where there are.

It should be remembered that the possibility of an agreement with a party of this nature being considered is unfortunately not uncommon: We have many examples in Europe, increasingly. But it is worth noting the particularities of the Spanish case, which I consider unique for different reasons that can be summarized very briefly in one: that it is promoted from a social democratic party that aspires to lead a progressive alliance after a unilateral secession attempt led by that same party has failed.

In my opinion, it is anomalous that this possible agreement is presented as an opportunity to revalidate a “progressive” government in which not only such deeply conservative parties as the PNV would be integrated, but a party like Junts, whose xenophobic ideology we cannot doubt. since its leaders make public ostentation of it. The fact that this xenophobia is manifested against the Spaniards – particularly against the Catalans descended from immigration from the poorest regions of Spain – does not make it any less odious, particularly if one takes into account the profile of the voters of this party, mostly of the upper class or upper middle class.

Nor can it be doubted that it is a supremacist party, in the sense that its leaders proclaim to anyone who wants to hear it that the Catalans “of pure strain” (the equivalent of Le Pen’s “Frenchman de souche”, to understand us) are superior to the rest of the Spanish, that they would be more uneducated, more backward, more vague, more corrupt and, therefore, more prone to authoritarian forms of government, almost genetically. So independence would free Catalonia from the burden of these “inferior” fellow citizens with whom it is necessary to redistribute part of the wealth of the good Catalans (the famous “Spain ens roba”). As for the history of corruption, suffice it to remember that they are the heirs of the extinct Convergencia i Unio and the political sons of Pujol. But although we do not go back so much, there is the recent case of Laura Borras, disabled as President of the Catalan Parliament for a case of pure and hard corruption.

But, and this is perhaps what worries me the most at the moment, that it is a profoundly illiberal party, and therefore, contrary to the democratic rule of law and its rules, that is, Contrary to the essential idea in a representative liberal democracy that democratic power is subject to limits, starting in our case with those contained in our Constitution. To situate us, Junts is closer to the Lega Norte, Le Pen, Fidesz or Fe y Justicia and of course to Vox than to parties such as the PSOE and the PP with all their innumerable defects.

The fact that this reality does not look like this in Spain is a mystery to me. That it is not seen by a party like Sumar, or the parties that make it up, is understandable to a certain extent. For the left “to the left of the PSOE” -I love the euphemism- peripheral nationalism has always had a romantic aura, for its legendary (never better said) opposition to Francoism and also because in some cases it can be seen as the most useful tool to erode the Constitution of 1978.  For others it is simply the best option not to govern “the right” even if this requires, paradoxically, to govern with the right. That a social democratic party such as the PSOE does not see it, I believe that it is justified only by pure opportunism, at least by those who rule in the party, or to be more exact, the only one who rules in the party. Would he be writing this tribune if Junts’ vows were not necessary for the investiture of Pedro Sanchez? I think not.

On the contrary, the fact that it does not look like this outside Spain is not a mystery, but something perfectly understandable. First, because of a lack of deep knowledge of the real institutional functioning of the country and its democracy that few journalists and even experts can have from a country that is not their own. Secondly, for the survival of political and cultural myths to which all human beings are so addicted, especially for how comfortable they are. This is particularly true in the case of the Anglo-Saxon media, whose condescension toward the democracies of southern Europe lacks any justification, seen both in the United Kingdom and in the USA. But also because of the diligence (and public money) used by the independentists to promote their cause: At the time of writing, there is an exhibition in the European Parliament called “Catalonia’s contribution to the social and political progress of Europe” that includes an explanation of 1-0 in nationalistic terms. Faced with this insistent propaganda (well explained by Juan Pablo Cardenal in his book “The web: The external plot of the procés”) there has been a total abandonment of functions by the Spanish State to defend our democratic state of law, first by incompetence or convenience, With the Government of Mariano Rajoy, and then for opportunism, with those of Pedro Sanchez -except for the brief period in which Borrell was in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to be honest-.

Nor (even to deserve the label of “equidistant”) do I want to stop referring to the unfortunate role of the PP in all this farce, from its willingness to meet with Junts -converted for the occasion in a perfectly homologable center-right party, In the words of Gonzalez Pons- up to his deal with Vox, surrealist appointments with Francoist flags included. It is difficult for this baggage to lead a responsible opposition in defense of the rule of law in a coherent way, it is inevitable that the “And what about you” will be used against you. On the other hand, its contribution to the institutional deterioration in Spain has been remarkable, which significantly undermines its position, whether it is the blocking of the CGPJ or its hobby to participate in the distribution of institutional cards presenting candidates very debatable for their lack of independence whenever they have the opportunity.

At this point, I think it is essential to reflect as a country. Does the price of an investiture, whoever it is, really have to be explicitly recognizing that Spain is not a democratic state of law comparable to the most advanced in the world, as the international rankings say? Do we really have to deprive ourselves of the legal and political instruments that enable them to be defended against those who put them at risk? To twist the law in the best tradition of Carl Schmidtt, a fascist jurist – of the real ones – so that it always serves the power? Do we have to equate Mr. Puigdemont with the exiled Republicans of the Civil War? To the prisoners of procés with the political prisoners of Francoism?

I am the first to point out for many years the many failures that our democracy and our rule of law have. Simply because, like everyone else, they are always far from the constitutional ideal to which we must aspire: Being versus having to be, the politics of human beings is built on that dichotomy and is inevitable. But from that to our government or our parties recognizing – in exchange for a few votes – that what we have is what Mr Puigdemont believes – a non-democratic state – there is a stretch that we cannot go through. I, in particular, refuse and trust that many other Spaniards too. We cannot go from a liberal democracy to an illiberal one in exchange for a handful of votes. If we do so, we will have consented to the demolition of our democratic rule of law as it was set up in 1978.  Let us not fool ourselves.

Originally published in ”El Mundo”