divendres, 7 de setembre de 2012

For Democracy in Southern Europe


Josep Huguet Biosca, former Minister of the Government of Catalonia (2004-2010).
President of the Irla Foundation.
Industrial engineering.


Europe has a problem, and it's called Spain. If you believe that the only issue of concern in Spain is its frivolous bankers and its property market, along with a certain Mediterranean proclivity for “Dolce far niente” (Italian: pleasant idleness), you would be wrong. 
There is an underlying problem that makes Spain a region of potential destabilization for a prosperous, democratic Europe. There is an original sin that conditions a large part of Spain's structural problems.

It is the only State remaining that made up the Nazi-Fascist Axis before and during the Second World War where there has been no true breaking of ties with its authoritarian past. Cold War interests made it possible for Spain's turncoat oligarchies, which supported dictator Franco, to make the King appointed by the Generalissimo the cornerstone of a formally democratic regime. In fact however, it remains in the hands of the same social and political classes that supported the Fascist regime.
A transition that did not break those ties gave the appearance of normalcy which is now being questioned in the Triple Crisis: the global economy, the Spanish speculative bubble, and the domestic relations of the centralist state with the nations with most personality: Catalonia and the Basque Country.

In Spain, there has not been as much as the slightest ostracism of all those responsible for the Franco regime and its repressions, as was the case in Greece and Portugal, and as there has been in Latin America and South Africa. In Spain, all those responsible for the regime were guaranteed an amnesty, and an “amnesia” was imposed on the dark period of alliance with Hitler and Mussolini. Unlike Europe, where the memory of democratic resistance to the cruel authoritarian regimes is present in schools, in museums and in remembrance days, Spain has none of this.

This historical prologue of comparative politics addresses non-Spanish readers so they may understand where we stand. Several of Franco's government secretaries were appointed to posts within this new framework of democracy, something that would have been inconceivable in France, Germany or Italy, for example. Thus, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 was agreed upon, as sabres rattled with the threat of army intervention, by the heirs of Franco and part of the democratic opposition.

From that initial Achilles heel came a framework that apparently set the foundation for a social and nationally plural democracy, but that has been hollowed out of its most forward-looking elements by the restrictive interpretations of the judiciary institutions and the consecutive Spanish governments.
During this last decade, the concurrence of the economic crisis on one hand, and the contention between Spain and Catalonia on a constantly eroded system of self-government on the other, along with the conflicts deriving from the Basque issue, has meant significant reversals in individual rights, to protest, to association and to free speech. And now, with the excuse of austerity, the municipal base and the basic pillars of the welfare state that have only recently consolidated are being eliminated.
The 19 autonomous regions, improvised in order to reign in the Basques and Catalans, have proven to be a failure and have become a dead-weight of misrule in the hands of the two major Spanish parties, the right-wing Popular Party (PP) and the social-democratic Socialist Party (PSOE). By taking advantage of this fiasco, the state is attempting to annihilate the remaining apparatus of self-government of the historical nations. That is why for the fist time a majority of public opinion in Catalonia and the Basque Country is turning to support for independence.

Is this a novelty? No, it isn't. Catalonia, like Scotland or Flanders in Belgium, had its own political existence until it was lost at the gates of contemporary times. Only acts of military power or forced unions provoked that these self-governing societies to be submitted to new nation states, usually in the hands of the oligarchies contrary to the interests of the peoples of the annexed nations, and in favour of cultural and religious homogenisation of its populations.

In 2014 it will be 300 years since one of these annexations, contrary to the international treaties of the time. And it'll be 75 years since Franco's military victory, with Hitler and Mussolini's assistance, from which sprang a 40-year dictatorship and eventually a low-quality democracy which will soon be 35 years old.
The construction of a Catalan democratic republic is the best contribution the Catalans can make to the stabilization of Europe's southern flank. We hope to receive, as fair correspondence, the support of all European democrats.




3 comentaris:

  • Jared Baglietto says:
    7 de setembre de 2012 a les 7:33

    Best of luck Catalunya. Will the EU/UN ever allow you guys to hold a referencum on independence?

  • Roger Evans says:
    15 de desembre de 2012 a les 17:58

    Did France hold a referendum on independence at the end of World War II? Did the Poles after the Wall fell? The Estonians? Catalonia has been occupied for 300 years. They can just declare independence, and any state that doesn't support them is not democratic.

  • Roger Evans says:
    15 de desembre de 2012 a les 17:58

    Did France hold a referendum on independence at the end of World War II? Did the Poles after the Wall fell? The Estonians? Catalonia has been occupied for 300 years. They can just declare independence, and any state that doesn't support them is not democratic.

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