Spain: the smell of blood thirst The Spanish democratic deficit
A decaying smell emerges from Spanish politics. The festering wounds of the dictatorship (1939-1975) are by no means connected. Despite massive support from the European Union to lift the country from its rigid past – they owe their great motorway network to it – the political system remains attached to a questionable grandeur and morbid urge to rule.
Spain is the typical example of a suffocating centralism, although it theoretically has 17 autonomous territories. But the ink of the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) has still not dried up. That treaty moved the border meridian from 480 to 1,770 kilometers west of the Cape Verde islands. Everything beyond that fell to the crown of Castile. What lay to the east went to Portugal (Africa and Brazil). Neatly distributed by Pope Alexander VI.
If Spain had adhered to it, there would have been no Civil War. But Spain had appropriated Rio de Oro and Morocco at the end of the 19th century. Portugal was not even able to give anything back, it had long been played out as a colonial power, even though those areas were within its sphere of influence. The golden days of Portuguese explorers were over, and what good was it that Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia had explored and claimed the area in 1436? Gouddorst was the only motive, under the guise of Christianization.
Franco on the forefront
It was indeed in the first Moroccan war that Francisco Franco first came to the fore. In 1907 he joined the army in Toledo – an ominous city, a hotbed of the Inquisition , still the city of which the Archbishop is the highest in Spain, and where Franco was uncontested in 1936 after the military removal of the Alcázar. leader of the nationalist forces was recognized.
Franco was badly wounded in Morocco, but returned as a ruthless officer in the Reef War (1921-1926). He gained fame when he and his newly established Spanish Foreign Legion, consisting of adventurers, criminals and dreaded soldiers, were able to save the city of Melilla – incidentally, Melilla with Ceuta is still a Spanish exclave in North Africa. That Legion, which he received in 1934, also became the backbone of his troops when he turned against the democratically elected left-wing People’s Front government two years later.
Franco’s long shadow
The atrocities of the Spanish Civil War are known. The long shadow of Franco much less. The right-conservative Partido Popular is simply the continuation of the Alianza Popular that was founded after Franco’s death by his former minister of home affairs and information (censorship) Manuel Fraga Iribarne. In 1990, the angry José Maria Aznar, who himself was a member of the Falange and of the student union, the only one admitted by the Francopewind, took over.
His successors Mariano Rajoy and today Pablo Casado are plagued by scandals: Rajoy fell as head of government after party corruption, in which the treasurer and possibly he himself were entangled. Casado has tampered with his diplomas, a four-day course in Spain he turned to be a postgraduate from Harvard.
It may come as no surprise that the Partido Popular received major blows in the April 2018 elections . It fell to a record low of 15.8% and barely 66 seats in the Lower House of the Cortès, which has 350 members. In 2016, the PP gained 137 seats. But the grip on politics continues because the “democratic” constitution of 1978 was drawn up shortly after the death of the Caudillo by its supporters under an as yet unsatisfactory kingship of Juan Carlos. He bears the stamp of a centralist and not very liberal policy (although the Supreme Court, which is completely crammed with PP supporters and has 79 members since 2017, has the atavist, almost ‘Polish’ approach to homosexuals, abortion, women’s rights and so on rejected).
Franco’s shadow also has a name. State terror. Thanks to the European Union, a layer of democracy has been deposited on the unwieldy monster of an authoritarian regime. But in times of crisis, that monster roars dangerously again.
In the beginning that seemed ridiculous. The clown on duty was then called Antonio Tejero Molina, lieutenant colonel of the Guardia Civil. In 1978 he launched ‘Operation Galaxia’, the name of the café where a bunch of drunken officers planned a coup against democracy. The current name of the cafe, Van Gogh, is closer to their intentions. Six years were claimed against Tejero after the failure. The court martial gave him the minimum sentence, seven months and one day. While maintaining his degree.
Tejero did not learn. In 1981 he burst into parliament with 200 companions, waving wildly with a gun. All members dived under their couch, with the exception of one unyielding elected one. The repeat offender Tejero was sidelined by the king, and then got 40 years. He was fifteen. That wasn’t just a rebellion, it was a coup. Rebellion because he wanted to conquer power by force. Coup because he wanted to re-enter the junta. Treason because he did not want a conversation with the institutions, but wanted to impose his state form by force.
Today’s Spain is struggling with a resurgence of that reprehensible past. Again everything revolves around dictatorship, the questioning of the rule of law, and the instinct of the extreme right. There are also names on it. Franco, the case against the Catalan separationists, and Vox-PP.
Let me start with the latter. The new Falange is a fact, and the conservative civil parties are taking over their drastic positions (migration, criminal law, nationalism), even sharing the power as the regional elections in Andalusia have shown. I am not surprised that an almost natural coalition has been established between conservative farmers, dissatisfied city dwellers and shock troops who have found a second breath with the rise of the extreme right from Scandinavia to Eastern Europe, from Italy to Hungary.
In the national elections of April 28 this year, Vox immediately entered the parliament with 24 seats, one in ten Spaniards again voting radically to the right. The PP sees the storm hanging, because that was at the expense of its supporters – the centralist party Ciudadanos almost doubled its seats to 57, and caught up with the rest. The wave to refinalize has immediately become a tidal wave, in which resigning Prime Minister, socialist Pedro Sánchez, is dragged along: “I am willing to dialogue with Barcelona, but the constitution takes precedence.”
That does not indicate a dialogue, but a dictation. The new elections on November 10 will show whether that was a good idea. Because Sánchez has not succeeded in forming a majority government through the petty offer of power sharing with Unidas-Podemos, also because the support of the Catalan ERC with its 15 members was indispensable; four representatives of the people and one senator of the Catalan nationalists are sworn in jail, but they do not receive inviolability, the times of Borms are back.
Wipe out blemish
The time of Franco no less, although the fate of the Caudillo was sealed 44 years after his death. Sanchez got history on his side just in time: the Supreme Court ruled that the government was allowed to dig up the remains of the dictator, and that he would not be buried in the Almudena Cathedral, as the family demanded. It will be a reunification with his wife Carmen Polo in the cemetery of Mingorrubio in the small municipality of El Pardo, above Madrid.
Until the last moment, the date and method were kept secret. Sanchez kept his word, it happened discreetly on October 23, and indeed with a helicopter and without any military honor. Ironically, the lifting of the tombstone was done by a company called Vertugo, “the executioner.” The Valley of the Fallen will therefore erase a disgrace from the Spanish past.
Partly anyway, because the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, keeps his tomb among the thousands of forced laborers and fallen from left and right. The anarchist author-director Gernando Fernán-Gómez rightly saw in this a continuation of the dictatorship: “If the right talks about reconciliation then it is not about peace, but about perpetuating the victory in the Civil War.” Hence probably five arson around the valley in 2018.
The old monster covenant church and army is not dead. Against Franco’s excavation, not only the family and the Francisco Franco Foundation, but also Vox (a rather cynical cry that “the government has no respect for the dead”), ADVC (the Valle de los Conservation Association) Caídos) and the Benedictine monks who manage the monument. The family had demanded that the prior of the abbey give his blessing, but that too was rejected by the Supreme Court. Immediately, the momentary impulse of fascist worship can decrease.
Financially and politically nipped
And then there is treatment of the autonomous regions, especially Catalonia. They are being nipped financially and politically. Minister of Tax Affairs Maria Jesús Montero has not been able to pay out the 7 billion euros that have been provided for a whole year. “By order of the state attorney,” she says. That is questionable. According to the lawyer, “a resigning government should not incur major expenses if they have an impact on the new government.” There is no budget because the right has deliberately stopped them.
And then there is the political revenge action. Nine of the 12 Catalan zealots for independence received imprisonment from 9 to 13 years. The Supreme Court was sensible enough not to comment on the ridiculous indictment of rebellion (already rejected in Scotland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland). The penalty therefore applies to incitement, civil disobedience and “abuse of public funds.” Which are clearly worse than a coup that takes seven months in jail.
It means: there is only one state rison. But did Franco respect the rules of the national government? As if that is not enough, Madrid now wants to ruin Catalan diplomacy. Like Flanders, Catalonia is also working on a network of now 15 foreign representations. Prime Minister Quim Torra has just announced the opening of such a house in Tunisia, Mexico and Argentina. “Gos against the public interest,” says Madrid now. The common thread is clear: “L’Etat c’est Moi.”