IT IS surprising how little interest the world is showing in what is happening in Spain since the people took to the streets in protest at the acting government’s unconstitutional plans to secure another term in office. The protests have continued for 26 successive days in the face of police violence.
Even more surprising, it might seem, is the EU’s determined ‘look the other way’ reaction to one of the largest EU countries, both in area and population.
The EU’s position is that Spain’s problem with separatists who want to break up the country is an internal one and that it must be resolved internally. They turn a blind eye to another EU country, Belgium, protecting fugitives from Spanish justice, preventing the implementation of the Euro Arrest and Surrender Order that the Spanish high court issued against Carles Puigdemont – now a sitting MEP – and other Catalan plotters of the October 2017 attempted coup. That they were charged with crimes of embezzlement of public funds, rebellion and prevarication mattered not. Such an affront to the Spanish rule of law should be neither admissible or forgivable. But this is what the EU do. They interfere in the things that affect them little or not at all, such as bicycle lanes, green spaces, agricultural production, imposing an endless list of things on the member countries, but when the integrity of a member country is in danger the EU refuse to have anything to do with it. This policy incoherence and hypocrisy may well come to take its toll on them, and it’s what they deserve. Spain, after all, is not the only European country with separatist territorial problems.
The EU’s attitude is not new. In the 1980s and 1990s, when Belgium refused to extradite many ETA (armed Basque nationalist and far-left separatist organisation) terrorists, they looked the other way. Even further back, in the 1970s and 1980s, when ETA was particularly aggressive, they looked the other way when France, perhaps wanting to avoid problems with its Basque-French territory, made itself a safe haven for Spanish terrorists.
All this has helped undermine, if not invert, democracy – defined as ‘a political system that defends the sovereignty of the people and their right to elect and control their rulers’ – certainly where Spain is concerned. Is it ‘democracy’ for a party to win seats at the polls by telling repeated lies about commitments fundamental to the future of a country to get the vote in favour and then do the opposite in order to form a government?
Would there be a socialist government in Spain today had not Pedro Sánchez and his Socialist Party (PSOE) ministers, including the justice ministers, flatly denied that granting an amnesty to the Catalan coup plotters was possible in the constitution, insisting that it would be illegal and break the separation of powers? How many votes would they have won had they said that they would notbebringing Puigdemont back shackled and to face justice? Would the hard left Spanish Socialist Workers’ (PSOE) party leader, Mr Sanchez, be governing today had he told Spaniards up front that he would be granting amnesty to the very separatists who staged a coup d’état on October 1, 2017?
Puigdemont, seeing impunity near, has made Sánchez draft an ad hoc amnesty law. The legal consequences are immense. It is simply not compatible with the non-arbitrariness of the use of power and the laws that are enshrined in the Union treaty. It is even less so where, in addition, the term ‘lawfare’ is used to define what the justice system in Spain has done with the coup plotters, and allows Puigdemont’s demand for a secret international ‘rapporteur’ who, somewhere abroad, will discuss with him and a Government representative whether a sentence or accusation is motivated by political ideology. This is a criminal being allowed to judge himself.
This perfidy is the reason why, for nearly four weeks, Spaniards have been taking to the streets in huge and unprecedented protests.
The people have not forgotten that in 1978 all Spaniards voted yes to a constitution in which speakers of all sensibilities, including communists and nationalists, participated. In this way, democracy was consolidated.
They have not forgotten that Article 2 of the constitution reads as follows: ‘The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards’, and ‘all Spaniards are equal before the law’.
They know what amnesty means and that it does not mean a pardon, but that the state recognises that the crime has not existed; and that by logical deduction means the state has committed the crime by charging the plotters in first place, inverting and making a mockery of the constitution.
President Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) won 121 seats at the July 23 elections. The mainstream conservative Popular Party (PP) won 137 seats. Neither had enough votes to form a government. PP and VOX (the patriotic party) were just four seats short of an overall majority, but the only party with which they could form a coalition was the Basque Nationalist Party. It is easy to imagine what the Basques asked for in exchange for their five seats: no less than the transfer of all powers to them for their region. There was of course no agreement.
Yet President Sánchez making his agreement with the Catalan coup plotters has brought Spain to the brink of the abyss, to territorial and social rupture, all so that he can gain the necessary seats to remain in power. What was a resounding No to him before July 23 he has twisted into victory by a series of despicable tricks that will keep him in power, but destroy Spain’s not yet 50-year democracy. He says he hasn’t lied, he’s just changing his mind.
No wonder such huge number of Spaniards in every city have been taking to the streets every day. To defend the rule of law, the homeland, the separation of powers and the constitution. All the associations of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, security forces, civil servants, diplomats – up to 90 groups – have stated their rejection of the ‘Sanchez’ law, forged in secret and still unknown in its entirety.
Sanchez’s quest to upturn the constitution, which has the King as its head of state, and bring about a republic is transparent.The King has no power to refuse to sign a law that parliament votes because ‘power resides in the people through parliament’. Ordinary people do not understand that even the King has to abide by the constitution and so has no power to prevent what Puigdemont finally decides. The constitution’s destruction. Isn’t that ironic?