Elisa Beni 5/08/2020
Republican protesters in a march EFE
“Ain’t nobody but me gonna lie for you / Gonna die for you / Ain’t no fish in the sea gonna sigh for you / Gonna try for you / Gonna lie for you / Gonna die for you”
‘Ain’t Nobody But Me’, from the album ‘Crisis? What Crisis? ‘By Supertramp
I would like those who wrap themselves in the tricolor and shout to explain to me under what parameters of responsibility they would like to lead the Spanish people to destroy their Constitution now, because that and nothing else is what they propose
There is a perfectly apocryphal anecdote that reflects a part of the spirit of the Spanish people that we contemplate appearing these days. I’m sure you know it. It is that of the aroused people from Madrid who applauds and shouts and kicks with joy as the procession of King Alfonso XII passes by as they enter Madrid and to whom someone next to him comments: “Well, hey, you really wanted to! the king would return! ” The character in question turns and responds: “Don’t believe it, that’s because you didn’t see what I screamed and applauded when we kicked her mother out.”
I have to confess to you that my position in both cases would have been the same: not to go out on the street, and that, no matter what you think, I am not a supporter of tumultuous exaltation or festive lynchings. Of both things, there has been too much since Monday without, in my modest opinion, taking advantage of it to put the debate at the point that interests the most, which is not a football match between monarchy or republic, but a reflection on values and controls that we want to demand and implement from whoever is head of state. As Montesquieu said, the British regime is that of a nation in which the republic hides under the monarchical form and, as Revel well completed, conversely, France is a nation in which the monarchy hides under the form of the Republic. The moral of all this is that what is really important is that the form of constitution of the State adopted is respectful of what have been called the republican virtues. In that sense I am a republican and in that sense the Spanish system has failed to bring us to this moment.
The main problem of the Spanish monarchy is that of having been designed as a supervised monarchy, within a country with a Constitution with clearly republican values. The great paradox is that all the efforts to “protect” the Crown from the implicitly feared republican tendency of the Spanish people, have only served to move it away from the inseparable formula of a constitutional monarchy: its transparency, the existence of clear and the controls to which it is subjected. That a head of state is irresponsible or inviolable does not mean that he should not be subjected to democratic controls. The president of the French republic is also irresponsible until a month after his loss of mandate. The point is that you are not protected from public criticism, from investigation into your actions or finances, nor are your ethical or even loving behaviors silenced, and remember Hollande.
That is the fundamental problem of the Spanish constitutional monarchy, which has been built on pillars of darkness and of worship and of diffuse but real power, which have prevented the logical supervision of the activities of the person who embodies it. There is a certain risk that the same old people will try to make the same move with the ongoing sanctification of the person of Felipe VI.
It is not real or interesting to establish a debate between monarchy and republic, as if we were doing it between absolutism and the political form in which citizens are free, equal and fraternal. That is a visceral Spanish anachronism. Here the key is in the adjective ‘constitutional’, because those republican principles are perfectly included in our Magna Carta. That is why the shouts and noise about a republic or monarchy, like that, do not contribute anything. What monarchy? What republic? A constitutional monarchy like the British? An illiberal republic like the one Orban seeks? It is the essence of the type of state that we want and defend what really counts. No political scientist can deny the evidence about fully constitutional European monarchies or sell us that every republic is a democratic form.
Even as a Republican, I would like a kind of Statute of the Monarch to come out of this, leaving behind all the protectionism, all the courtesanism and all the drool that have accompanied Juan Carlos I
What we need is to be consistent with what we want and, if someone is not, to provide ourselves with the means to supervise each other, as happens in a democracy, and the king as well, as the highest representative of the State. Whoever the head of state is, we need transparency regarding their finances, security that they pay taxes, prohibition of accepting gifts or donations and compliance as the first Spaniard with the obligation to pay their taxes. It is the controls and counterweights that make democratic structures lawful. Even as a Republican, I would like more to see a kind of Statute of the Monarch come out of this, leaving behind all the protectionism, all the courtesanism and all the slobber that have accompanied Juan Carlos I, than to pretend that it can be submitted to a constituent process to the country at the present time. Without changing the Constitution, or destroying it, there is no way to change the form of the head of state. I would like those who wrap themselves in the tricolor and shout, explain to me under what parameters of responsibility they would like to lead the Spanish people to destroy their Constitution now –with a health, economic, territorial crisis and with a far-right party in between– since that and nothing else is what they propose. I do not see it.
Regarding the corruption that incidentally can be seen in the conduct of the former head of state, I ask that republican equality be applied to him as well. In no democracy with the rule of law is convicted lynching or omitted a fair and contradictory trial, with the possibility of defense, nor are general causes carried out on people who are only judged for each specific action. There is so much we know and so much we don’t know yet! It seems obvious that Juan Carlos I, in an unacceptable display of lack of patriotism and honesty, did not contribute his taxes to the general welfare of Spain and that he could commit crimes in doing so. It is also true that there has been an operation to blackmail the State, with the Crown as a hostage, attempted by people who are accused of specific crimes and who thus hoped to be exonerated. I am in favor of investigating with all the guarantees and, above all, I am devoted to the implantation of the republican virtue of fraternity in an iron way and to put an end to that scourge of the country that consists in that everyone who has something, takes care of subtract everything you can from the treasury. This includes kings, bankers, businessmen, soccer players, artists, and even great lawyers. That is one of our great deficiencies as a society.
I propose that instead of unleashing hall revolutions, the consequences of which are unexpected, we do ourselves the favor of clarifying how a constitutional king should behave and that we keep all channels open so controls are applied and he behaves under this control. Of course it will fall on deaf ears, because we are already witnessing the erection of the new fortress of flatterers around it.
In this same space I wrote one day ‘The Republic as an objective’ but a goal cannot be placed before the ends it represents.
Health and democracy, always.