Juan José López Burniol
11 February 2023
I never had any doubt that, at the end of a more or less sinuous negotiation, Esquerra and the Catalan socialists would reach an agreement on the budget. This decision is justified in order to give priority to Catalonia’s needs and, also, to break the existing bloc dynamics. I respect and value Salvador Illa; so much so that I understand what happened as an autonomous decision of the PSC and not as a Monclovite imposition. But this personal perception is not incompatible with my conviction that this budgetary pact is also part of a very relevant general framework: the historical and deep complicity between the Spanish left and the peripheral independentists, which has been a determining factor in Spanish politics for almost a century when the San Sebastián pact was signed.
I understand such symbiosis from the pro-independence perspective, whose aim is to split from the Spanish nation by breaking up its state: divide and rule. I do not understand it from a left-wing point of view. And this is what José Manuel García-Margallo and Fernando Eguidazu, authors of the book España en su laberinto, think when they ask: “Why have the ghosts of the Civil War suddenly been resurrected (…)? Why is a political system that has given us forty years of harmony and prosperity suddenly being called into question? (…) The challenge of Catalan independence does nothing but aggravate these problems, and it is no coincidence that between those who want to liquidate the ‘regime of 78’, those who seek the secession of Catalonia and those who sought the same for the Basque Country through terrorist violence, an obvious complicity has been created”.
This situation is disturbing for those of us who conceive of Spain, not as a country estate where the usual people have settled for centuries, as Azaña rightly said, but as a space of common life and preferential solidarity, defined by geography (the inevitable peninsula) and by history (which has shaped three states on this peninsula: Spain, Portugal, and Andorra). A space in which all kinds of links have been woven between its inhabitants. Links that are difficult and painful to sever.
But things are as they are and not as one would like them to be, and therefore, rather than adapting reality to ideas, we must adapt ideas to reality, and try to guess what lies ahead. For this reason, it must be taken for granted that the collaboration and collusion between the left and the independentists will continue, so that what is already being hinted at today will be consolidated: the reappearance of the “two Spains”. And, from there, the chronicle of a death foretold will follow: the decline and demolition of the “regime of ’78”.
The path has been well laid out. First the transition is denied by stigmatising it as a “pact of forgetting”, when the truth is that it was a “pact of reconciliation”; and then the “regime of ’78” itself (including the monarchy) is disqualified as the fruit of this fraudulent transition, a mere ruse to prolong the dictatorship.
In Spain, the State is very weak, but the Spanish nation is stronger than it appears.
Is all lost? I have doubts for one reason. In Spain, the state has been and is very weak, both within and outside the walls; both with those who seek its destruction from within, and with those who mock it from outside. On the contrary, the Spanish nation is stronger than it seems. I usually say that it is a nation of the highest order with an iron ill-health. This means that when the executive power, which has the primary obligation to defend the State with the law, fails due to inhibition and ineptitude, another subsidiary and reactive power (the judiciary) emerges to fill the vacuum in accordance with the Constitution. This has been the case so far. But the resistance of the materials is limited.
Two notes: 1) I will be vilified for this article as a catastrophist, especially by those who want Spain’s decline to hasten its end: I don’t care. 2) I have written it to be true to myself, since I repeat so often that one must say in public what one says in private: and this is what I say.