Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 31.10.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.


1. Some Backcloth
These are the region's nationalist parties, the ones who in an (unnatural) coalition initiated the 'illegal' referendum, etc, etc. In ascending order of Leftishness and idealistic, 'purist' thinking:-
  • The Catalan European Democratic party (PDeCAT), a right-wing, conservative party which is a recent convert to separatism
  • The ERC, a left-of-centre-party.
  • The CUP. The real nutters. The tail which is wagging the nationalist, Catalan and Spanish dogs.

    In normal times, this coalition would break up under the weight of its internal incongruities. But - thanks largely to PP party stupidity - we have well and truly arrived at rather abnormal times.
2. Quote of the week: So far: We are not taking autonomy away from Catalonia. We are just re-establishing it, in fact: The Spanish Foreign Minister. Who might actually believe what he said.

3. The (accurate) Overview of a US Expert on Spain:-
  • I think what we're looking at in the weeks ahead are acts of civil disobedience, maybe acts of resistance from public servants, boycotting of the December elections by some of the independence parties, and maybe most seriously, criminal prosecution of political leaders in Catalonia.
  • For some people in Catalonia, the independence movement has been a channel to voice their discontent with Spain's current political system, which they see as lacking in democracy, as being deeply corrupt, as being built on an unhealthy collusion between economic elites, political elites, and media elites. That's what they want to break away from.
  • This tragic thing in my view is that, the stand of Madrid over the status of Catalonia, the stand over the independence movement, and the stand over the declaration of independence have managed to divide the political forces in Spain that have been fighting to reform Spanish democracy and to make it healthier and better.
  • The nature of the political problem is that up to half of people in Catalonia do not feel that the state housed in Madrid has legitimacy and that is a real political problem and that is not going to go away by the measure implemented today. It will not go away by the December elections , the legitimacy of which is now being questioned because of the circumstance under which they are called. So that is a long term issue that only dialog can solve and, in my view, only a referendum like we saw in Scotland can resolve in Spain in the long term
  • The Spanish constitution has to be reformed, that means that Spain has to come to terms in a different way with the fact that it's a multinational state, where there's large parts of the population identify as both Spanish and Catalan, or both Spanish and Bask, or as only Bask and only Catalan not Spanish at all really.
  • If Spain wants to survive as a democratic nation, it the obligation to come to terms and find ways to establish a different form of self-government, and that can only happen through democratic dialog.
  • The polarization has shored up the conservative base of the Spanish government and has even, in a scary way, revealed the continued presence in Spain 40 years after Franco's death of extreme right-wing Spanish nationalism that isn't afraid to dig up symbols and gestures and flags and hand salutes that go straight back to Francoism.
  • In some perverse way, the behavior of Rajoy and the PP party so far in the Catalan crisis can be explained as a desperate attempt to maintain the outdated political system.
  • The ways in which the hardcore right wing of their governing party in Spain has taken advantage of this opportunity to fan the flames of anti-Catalan sentiment and to call for severe punishment for Catalan leadership has not helped the situation one bit.
  • Both parties have moved past the moment where they can sit down and dialog with each other without losing face. I think the mood in Madrid is a desire for punishment of the Catalan leaders who dare to challenge the constitutional order in Spain, and I think that a desire for revenge or for punishment from Madrid will poison the political climate in Spain, but especially in Catalonia.
  • It's unlikely that the December elections will yield, in the short term, a solution to a situation in which a solution can only be found through dialog.
  • Eventually, new national elections in Spain, so a renewal of the government in Madrid, might lead to a situation of which both parties can sit down and negotiate.
Or, as someone else has put it: The real crisis here is a crisis of the Spanish political system as it was built in the late 1970s and as it has evolved over the last 40 years. That is what is at the heart of this problem.

Or, as The Guardian has it hereThe Spanish prime minister’s decision to call a snap election, combined with the imposition of direct rule, does not magically resolve the problem. Much could, and probably will, go wrong before then, as the cat-and-mouse game between Madrid and Catalonia’s independence movement enters a new phase.The results of open elections are impossible to predict a unionist victory would be deeply humiliating for the separatists, but Rajoy is taking a risk because a clear victory by the independence movement would help win the support that it lacks among EU governments. It may also finally oblige his conservative People’s party to accept that the constitution which Spaniards, and Catalans, approved so massively in 1978 is overdue for a rewrite.

Life in Spain 
  • Despite the current mess, the country's economy continues to grow impressively at the macro level. 
  • It's hard to believe that the PP government – which has so far failed to even acknowledge the vast levels of corruption in Spanish political life – will accept that the whole system needs reforming. Maybe a future left-of-centre party. But this won't be coming along any time soon, as Sr Rajoy is well aware that support for his besmirched administration has risen in Spain outside Cataluña. So, expect an early election designed to bring it back to power for more years than it can currently rely on. A dirty business, democratic politics.
  • But let's see what the parliamentary commission comes up with in 6 months time. Without holding our breath.

Finally . . . Rather to my surprise, my Madrid-based daughter has advised me that what was deposited in the Correos 'Lost Property' box was not just my ID card - as they'd advised – but my wallet and all the not-very-important cards in it that I now keep separate from the vital ones. But not, of course, the €300 I'd just taken out in advance of the camino I was about to start. Well, would you leave the cash in a wallet you'd found and were well aware it was very probably going to be nicked by someone in Correos? But, then, the cash was never likely to be in when it was deposited, so it's an academic moral dilemma. En passant, lots of little things sent to me in the mail from the UK over the years have gone missing en route. But, of course, it's impossible to say whether this happened in the UK or in Spain.

Today's Cartoon:-

Run for your lives, everyone. It's the coming of Christianity!!

1 comment:

Sierra said...

Another long-running saga has an end in sight - so AENA will have three airports in the Alicante area: