Sunday, July 23, 2006

It’s perhaps going a little too far but a senior opposition politician today suggested the current Spanish government displays several of the divisive aspects of the disastrous Second Republic that preceded the Civil War of 1936-9 – marginalisation of the right wing party, suspension of consensus, anti-clericalism and alliances with the ‘nationalist’ parties of Spain’s regions.

And talking of the last-mentioned, El Mundo today had a useful list of all the disputes currently taking place between Spain’s muscle-flexing regions. Most seriously, this includes a battle for water resources but, down at the other end, there’s the inclusion by Andalucia in its draft new Constitution of a reference to flamenco as one of its ‘exclusive competencies’. In between these extremes are the language-related fights picked by the Galician ‘nationalist’ party with its neighbours in Asturias, Castile y León and Estremadura. When you read this, you could be forgiven for thinking that, as Spain drives relentlessly forward economically, it is going slowly backwards politically. I don’t know about France, Germany and the USA but, in the UK at least, it’s impossible to imagine these sorts of disputes between counties. And very difficult, even, to imagine them between the constituent countries of England, Scotland and Wales. The question is, will things get better or worse when Spain’s current economic boom comes to an end? Depending, of course, on how you define ‘better’ and ‘worse’.

And still on Spanish politics – this week will see the start of the process under which the opposition party takes the new Catalan Constitution to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it conflicts – in numerous provisions – with the Constitution of the Spanish state. Interesting times. Possibly.

Referring to the demands of the EU that Spain’s government get out of the way of a takeover by a German company of one of its energy operators, the relevant minister has pointed out it’s not true to say the EU has a free market in this area. Only the UK and Spain, he claims, have liberalised their markets. The question implied is why should Spain allow a German company to do what a Spanish company wouldn’t be allowed to do in Germany. It’s a fair point. And surely one which can rely on French support.

As one who has long believed history will be very unkind to the government of Tony Blair, I was rather gratified to read this comment this morning - It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Blair years have been a period of jaw-dropping government incompetence.

Galicia Facts

Galicians eat the lowest quantity of pre-prepared foods – 6 kilos a year each, against 10 nationwide. At 14, the Catalunians consume the most. Which might explain a few things.


Biopolitical said...

Hi Colin.

>Why should Spain allow a German company to do what a Spanish company wouldn’t be allowed to do in Germany?

Because it would be in the best interest of Spain to do so. I was also glad when the European Commission stepped in and didn't let our government have its way with the crazy subsidies to the ship-building industry. If the EC is being more "lenient" with other countries, well... worse for those countries.

Matthew Bennett said...

I have wondered more than once this year about where the divisions in Spain are going to lead.

I think it was Machado who said something like "both the Spanish lord and Spanish labourer are easily given to chuleria." It seems everybody just gets more divided when there's a serious problem, especially more cconservative types who understand bullfighting and see themselves as Manolete fighting life's problems and the socialists.

I am not sure if, in the context of what is happening as regards regional and party political divisions in Spain, the wider global contexts of wars on terror and islam versus the west type debates, Spain might be a more 'interesting' place to be in the next few years.

Another war here is to most people unthinkable but I understand how someone might start to see those lines being drawn in the sand.

Panharith said...

Depending, of course, on how you define ‘better’ and ‘worse’.