Felipe González is not one of the fathers of the Constitution, but he did play an important role in its preparation and is a fervent defender of its virtues. Although also one of the main supporters of its reform. “We are closer to losing self-government [in Catalonia] than to achieving a hypothetical independence. There is only one serious way out, which is federalization”, assured the former president of the Government, in an act of homage to the Constitution and to one of its parents, Gregorio Peces-Barba, in which the rapporteur of the Fundamental Law Miquel Roca has also participated. Both González and the Catalan ex-politician wanted to make a call to “consensus” and to “abandon irredentism”, in clear reference to the pro-independence movements and the extreme left and extreme right movements.
The event took place in the main hall of the Carlos III University of Madrid, the center that Peces-Barba founded in 1989. For González, the politician and jurist who died in 2012 symbolizes “the will to debate” of a historic moment, the transition. “Gregorio suggested that the first thing to do was to meet to reflect before the debate on the Constitution”, recalled the former president, who praised “the affable and firm character” of the father of the fundamental norm. For his part, Roca said that the socialist politician had three passions: “Human rights, the Constitution and Carlos III. Gregorio knew since he was a tiny child that he would make a Constitution and dedicated himself to it with passion and commitment”, he said.
Peces-Barba was one of the seven speakers who were responsible for drafting the Spanish Constitution of 1978. Affiliated member of the PSOE since 1972, when it was still in underground, he was elected MP for Valladolid in 1977, 1979 and 1982, year in which he was elected president of the Congress with 338 votes in favor, 8 in white and none against. In 1986 he decided not to run again as a MP candidate and return to academic life. From then on he focused his efforts on creating the Carlos III University.
The two political veterans have had all kinds of kind words for their contemporary, but Gonzalez and Roca have wanted above all to take advantage of the act to make a defense of the Constitution and an analysis of its possibilities for reform in the current political and social situation. They mainly lamented the lack of a culture of alliances. “The covenant is made by the brave, the cowards prefer to denounce it”, said Roca, who assured that during the Transition “there were resignations, but freedom is a permanent exercise to resign”. González criticized those who complain about the “resignations of the democrats” because they want to “recover irredentism”.
The former president has directly blamed the separatists for wanting to break the model advocated by the basic norm and to help Vox’s growth and its proposals for recentralization. Shortly after finishing the ceremony, he assured: “When some have broken the perimeter of the Constitution as a sphere of coexistence, which was what happened with the independence movement, they are, in some way, justifying others to try -they have not yet done so- to break it on the other side”.
For the Sevillian political veteran, who has assured that “the Constitution has to be touched”, a “key” question has to be formulated: “Is there anyone who tries to achieve the consensus of 78? Are we going to have to settle for a Frankenstein or a Francostein Government?” Roca has agreed, but pointed out that he opposes “settling on the idea of reform to avoid facing a problem”. According to the rapporteur of the Constitution, “a reform does not mean a total change”, and Roca fears “the ecstasy of one side and the other to reform the Constitution in its entirety”.
Both Gonzalez and Roca have agreed that the imperfect bipartisanship that characterized much of the last 40 years of democratic history in Spain has given way to the current multi-party system, which they define as “block-functioning”. “The bipartisanship was competing for the center, while now two blocks are being formed in which the leading edge is carried by the extremes”, the former president pondered, concluding that “these two blocks have no intention of occupying a space of centrality”. “The blocks, in the end, block”, Roca has stressed.
At the end of the ceremony, González took the opportunity to make clear that he supports both Pedro Sánchez’s strategy and the party he will “always” vote for. Even so, it has confirmed that “fortunately” the PSOE has not invited him to participate in the electoral campaign of the party, which begins next April 12. “I don’t have the age. Zapatero is 15 or 20 years younger than me”, he explained with a smile.