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Politics

Spain on the edge of the cliff

Fernando del Pino Calvo Sotelo

July 28, 2023

I rarely write about Spanish politics, but the frustration of the expectations created with respect to an alternation in government in the last general elections warrants a reflection. Although any analysis made a posteriori -including this article- has less value than if it had been made a priori and should be taken with a grain of salt, the dire consequences of the continuation of the current Socialist-Communist government, whose pacts with its separatist allies I take for granted, calls for a serious wake-up call.

The likely permanence in power of a character like Sanchez can only be understood for one reason: he is a ruler who has never had opposition worthy of the name. Indeed, the cotton-wool soft non-opposition of the last two opposition Popular Party leaders has been an extraordinary gift that has allowed him to cross all kinds of red lines without receiving any response cost beyond the tremulous twittering of a little bird. This political style of non-opposition is based on waiting for the fruit to fall to the ground instead of picking it from the branches of the tree, on parsimoniously standing in line hoping that sooner or later it will be his turn, on concentrating on tiptoeing and not making much noise rather than raising his voice. It is like a lukewarm coffee, somewhat bland and unappetizing and the antithesis of the boldness and audacity necessary to achieve power, which the Leninist ultra-left knew how to use so effectively.

Some criticisms about the way in which the opposition Popular Party (PP) has conducted its electoral campaign seem to me to be fair. The most frequent way to win an election is to make people afraid of something and then tell them who is to be blamed for it. While the now radicalized Socialist Party (PSOE) mastered this strategy as coarse as it is efficient with the fear of the “ultra-right” (particularly in Catalonia, where non-separatist voters prefer appeasement to firmness and confrontation, unlike the separatists), the PP alluded as its preferred partner to a moderate PSOE that does not exist today, while denigrating its natural partner (right-wing Vox) in government: the opposition making opposition to itself. In open contrast, the PSOE treated its communist partners with white gloves without mentioning at any time the “useful vote” even though the left is as divided as the right – divided, but not confronted.

After claiming to feel “closer to the PSOE than to Vox” (could it be true?), the PP fell into the trap of assuming the discourse of its adversary and carried out a self-conscious and defensive campaign focused on apologizing for its pacts with Vox. Was it so difficult to give as an example the success of Madrid, where after a PP government with the support of Vox, not only have the Francoist hordes not paraded the streets, but the citizens, delighted, have granted the PP an absolute majority in the following regional elections? The pathological lack of combativeness of the non-opposition even prevented it from feigning indignation and demanding explanations from Sanchez for the stable alliance of the psychopath president with the “ultra-left” and separatism with a coup or terrorist past. That it has been easier for the PSOE to scare with the “ultra-right” than for the PP to scare with the subversive alliance embodied by Sanchez (and which scares even the minority moderate socialism that so many of us long for) is incredible. Finally, the absence of the PP leader in the second debate was as pathetic as Rajoy’s empty seat in the no-confidence vote that threw him from power.

Therefore, those who point to the main non-opposition party as a problem are right, for, as in Hamlet, “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Indeed, the former president Rajoy’s dynasty did not end with his departure from politics, but continued with his successors, who remained faithful to that self-conscious style I have described above, and which is a real blessing for an aggressive and unscrupulous ruler like Sanchez. This is the real crux of the matter, and it shows a much deeper problem affecting Spanish politics since the beginning of the democracy in 1978.

This style of behavior is based on the acceptance of the rules, the language and the definitions of right and wrong of the political adversary (the “PSOE state of mind”, term coined by the thinker Mr. Quintana Paz), which results in the meek acceptance of a double standard. It is the left that issues the passports of political correctness. For example, the subversive communists of Podemos, the philo-terrorists of Bildu or the Catalan separatist criminals are respectable parties, but Vox is a dangerous “ultra-right” to be shackled. Can you imagine that the 1981 failed right wing coup leader Tejero – who spent 15 years in prison – would have been pardoned after 3 years like the Catalonian leaders have? Can you imagine that the ERE case – the biggest corruption scandal of democracy, involving the Socialist Party – would have involved the right? But the greatest example of the double standard is that, even though since the arrival of democracy all political violence has come from the extreme left (both with the Marxist terrorism of ETA and GRAPO and with the bullying and violent demonstrations of Basque Marxist separatists and the Communists), it is the right who is permanently under suspicion of extremism.

The same style explains the obsession for “centrism”, a concept that has nothing to do with the laudable Aristotelian definition of virtue (the just middle between two extremes), but with an absolute void of ideas and principles and an abandonment of the political struggle bordering on cowardice. Does the PP observe that Socialist Sanchez or Communist Podemos have reached power thanks to their “centrism”? How does a party that lives trapped by the fear of stepping on the lines marked by its adversary to cause it structural defenselessness aspire to be successful?

In Spain, half of the political spectrum decided many years ago to give up the battle of language and accepted to play with rigged cards without presenting any ideological or cultural debate, limiting itself to follow any political initiative presented by the other half (feminism, gender ideology, etc.). Naturally, this includes adopting the epithet “ultra-right” (ultras can only be right-wing) to demonize the party that was originally born as a dissidence of the voters betrayed by Rajoy.

In fact, the chronic crisis of the PP and the division of “the right” are ultimately the responsibility of former president Rajoy, wrongfully hand-picked. After two consecutive electoral defeats, he was only able to win the 2011 elections thanks to a huge economic crisis using as a battering ram then incumbent president Zapatero’s only responsible action, which was to freeze public pensions in an environment of technical bankruptcy of the State. The PP promised not to freeze them and to lower taxes, but when it came to power it increased pensions by an insignificant 0.25%, raised taxes beyond what the Communist Party proposed and, far from being embarrassed, boasted about it through the most harmful Minister of Finance for the legal security of our country (until the arrival of Sanchez and the Montero disaster, naturally): “I laugh because we have baffled the left”, said Montoro delightedly. Shortly after, the PP government lied again about the VAT hike, which it made after the 2012 Andalusian elections after claiming it would not do so.

After promising to fight corruption (no comments) and failing to comply with its program, which included “the reform of the election system of the General Council of the Judiciary, so that, in accordance with the Constitution, twelve of its twenty members are elected by the judges”, it continued to betray its voters by maintaining the protocol that allowed ETA to get off scot-free after its police defeat. He failed to keep his promises and consolidated all Socialist Zapatero’s ideological laws, including that of Historical Memory or that of abortion: what is more, he whispered to his like-minded magistrates in the Constitutional Court to put his own appeal in a drawer. Unbelievable.

From this damaging leadership, for which the PP has never intoned a mea culpa, Vox was born, a party that after its initial rise lost momentum and was knocked out with its failure in Andalusia, where it tried to go from a niche party to a majority party. Its difficulty to evolve from a guerrilla policy to that of a government policy, its inopportune aesthetic, and verbal stridencies, which favor caricature and the vote of fear, the lack of renewal of its cadres and the strange inclusions and exclusions in its electoral lists are mistakes of the party, which surprisingly has omitted any self-criticism.

The “right” may go to the elections divided, but not confronted. The time to despise each other or to appeal to the tiresome scam of the “useful vote” has passed.

But the real culprit that Sanchez may continue in power is that part of the Spanish electorate that has voted for him despite leading the most scandalous term of office in 50 years. This part of the electorate does not seem to care at all about his constant lies about not pardoning the Catalan coup plotters or not governing with the communists or with the sympathizers of Basque terrorism; or the handover to the Basque Country of the penitentiary competences, which all previous governments had refused to do, which has served to accelerate the prison release of ETA terrorists, or the ad hoc reform of the crime of sedition and embezzlement to reward the Catalan coup plotters. This part of the electorate does not seem to give importance either to the worrying institutional demolition he has carried out, from his siege to the Head of State, to the scandalous dismissal, without precedent, of the prestigious director of the National Intelligence Agency or to the dictatorial control of an absolutely politicized Constitutional Court that seems to want to border on prevarication without even pretending a minimum of objectivity.

Sanchez’s voters do not seem to understand that voting for him means voting for Catalan independentism and Basque’s Bildu’s philo-terrorism (his most loyal partner), which amplify their power thanks to Sanchez, their mole in the Spanish Presidential Palace of Moncloa. If this does not matter to them, imagine how little importance they will give to his systematic erosion of the Rule of Law with his abuse of the decree-law, his State of Emergency during covid (later ruled illegal by the courts) or the approval of openly unconstitutional laws, or to his authoritarian tics that lead him to avoid exposing himself to the public scrutiny of the press or the Parliament. Nor do they seem to care about the change of foreign policy regarding the Sahara and its subjugation to Morocco to the detriment of national interests following the suspicious spying of his cell phone, an action which in a country with more solid institutions would have given rise to a serious independent investigation. Finally, they are also indifferent to his bully style and the impudent love of luxury and privileges he has flaunted, more typical of a dictator of a banana republic than of the prime minister of a European country. Sanchez’s merit is to have understood precisely this: that he can do whatever he wants because a part of his electorate is indifferent to all these scandals.

The lesson that a psychopath draws from these elections is that he has carte blanche to do his will without any limit. Be prepared. Specialized in exploiting the lack of counterpowers of the regime of 78, which did not know how to create strong and independent institutions and did not arbitrate enough self-defense mechanisms preventing such a situation, Sanchez will continue with his subversive and unscrupulous agenda of demolishing the system with an increasingly autocratic and arbitrary power without the law serving as a brake, because he dominates the Constitutional Court as if we were in the USSR. Do not expect any help from the EU: they feel Sanchez is a good fellow, since he gets an A+ in all the ideological issues Brussels (and Soros) cherish so much (abortion, euthanasia, gender ideology, climate change, etc.).

If Sanchez stays in power, the damage he will do to Spain will be difficult to repair: the democratic regime of 78 will be mortally wounded and the Constitution will be a dead letter. Unfortunately, neither the opposition, nor the media, nor a large part of Spaniards have been aware of what was at stake in these elections.

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