Miquel Roca Junyent, 6 December 2022
Image: Carlos Luján / Europa Press
Spanish Constitution has more social support than the protagonists of the political world. This is what can be deduced from solvent and diverse surveys published in various media. But it also appears that personal relations between political representatives have become strained. Logically, this makes it difficult to reach agreements and pacts which, also according to the polls, are considered increasingly urgent and necessary. In short: the social majority values and desires what the political world rejects and does not practise. From the outset, it could be said that this is not going well. Or better and simpler: it is going badly.
When the adversary becomes the enemy, a phenomenon is taking place that goes against the values enshrined in our Constitution. Specifically, political pluralism is an unequivocal message to deputies and senators. They, as representatives of popular sovereignty, are the free expression of this pluralism. Each one represents a segment of this sovereignty and to all of them is projected the obligation to build the collective will of society by integrating and, above all, respecting all expressions of pluralism. Respecting and valuing difference; learning to coexist and to reach agreements whenever possible, while avoiding exclusionary a priori.
That is democracy. And when personal tensions, absurd insults, gratuitous disqualifications, or ill-intentioned irony make this difficult, democracy suffers. In any case, this whole string of bad practices cannot be protected by the Constitution. On the contrary, it is a manifest breach of the constitutional spirit. It is worth remembering that parliamentarians are part of a public institutional power, to whom the Constitution imposes the function of promoting the conditions for constitutional values to be real and, in all solemnity, imposes on them the obligation to remove the obstacles that might prevent or hinder them. It is not only a matter of respecting the adversary, but also of making it possible for him to defend and expose what he does not share.
Democracy is a pact. And a pact requires a willingness to seek it. And, obviously, everything is made more difficult by insults. We must reject all the preconceptions that become an impediment to simple personal relations. It is difficult to preach coexistence when the example goes in the opposite direction. Our society has too obvious weaknesses to allow us to renounce the value of example. And now, some political behaviour seems more likely to stimulate confrontation than to remedy it.
This article is published on the anniversary of the 1978 Constitution. Some will celebrate it; others will not. Some want its continuity; others want its reform. That is legitimate. But both should agree that only dialogue and the will to reach an agreement can give solvency to constituent purposes. And this will not be possible or even desirable without respecting discrepancies. It will be necessary to establish bridges, complicities, personal relationships that want to delimit the framework of coexistence as a common objective.
Polarisation needs the language of insult; democracy is strengthened when it rejects it.
It is no longer possible to fool oneself. All over Europe and here too there are political actors interested in the degradation of parliamentary and institutional practice. People who want to drag the debate into the realm of radicalisation in order to devalue democratic sentiment. Polarisation needs the language of insult; democracy is strengthened when it rejects it.
Respecting pluralism is the greatness of democracy. And also, its servitude.