Converses a Catalunya, 18 November 2021
Sánchez, Podemos and ERC want to liquidate the law that reconciled Spain
One of the bloodiest and most destructive events in Spanish history was the Civil War between 1936 and 1939. This disaster was followed by a dictatorship, particularly repressive during the first decades, which evolved over the years into an authoritarian regime, among other reasons because the European context no longer made the use of violence as a political system possible.
Moreover, that regime had the ability to lay the foundations for what was to be the take-off of the Spanish economy and the end of its chronic development after the 1959 stabilisation plan, which led to one of the most prosperous and fastest-growing periods Spain had ever experienced.
In the 1960s, the economy grew at a sustained rate of 6 and 7% per year. This upward process was broken by the first and second oil crises at the beginning of the 1970s, which, although they occurred in Spain with a certain delay, had terribly destructive effects on the economy and particularly on industry. In Catalonia, the industrial bourgeoisie was totally damaged and, in fact, has never managed to recover from that destruction. In the second half of the 1970s, Spain had to face a double and insurmountable challenge. On the one hand, the aforementioned crisis that generated serious social conflict, and on the other hand, the transition to democracy, a process that has failed most of the time all over the world because it has either failed to consolidate or has given rise to profoundly unstable systems. So much so that the Spanish Transition, together with the Moncloa pacts in the economic sphere, constitute an example studied in all the world’s universities, together with the case of the transition from South Africa’s racial dictatorship.
There was no Mandela here, but there were a series of key men who were able to heal the deep wounds of the two sides in the Civil War, and not only that, but also to build on this reconciliation with a successful economic project and a solid constitutional system. King Juan Carlos, Álvarez de Miranda, Suárez, Felipe González, Fraga, a prominent Franco minister, Carrillo, one of those allegedly responsible for the criminal shootings at Paracuellos, were all able to overcome their deep differences and work together. Had this not been the case, the country would have been subjected to chronic instability and economic impoverishment.
The key to this understanding was the amnesty law passed on 19 October 1977, two years after Franco’s death. This fact already gives an idea of the great unanimity surrounding the initiative. The entire PSOE, headed by González, Guerra, Peces Barba and the long etcetera of the party’s glorious era, which made it hegemonic for many years after 1982. The entire communist party, the nationalist forces, practically everyone voted that the amnesty law was the solution, because it left the moral balance of the conflict in a draw and put an end to any search for guilt that would have prevented the wounds from being closed.
Now, on the initiative of ERC and Podemos, to which PSOE has been added, the law of democratic memory is transformed into a justicialist law that wants to judge and condemn all the facts that the amnesty law had closed. In this amendment to the totality, no longer of the transition, but in particular of the same party that is now in the majority in government, the PSOE, Sánchez says to the face of the former leaders, that they acted against human rights and whose actions deserve to be rectified by a new law of Parliament.
It is a fact of historic proportions, which will have serious consequences more or less buried, but serious, and which further increases the polarisation of Spanish politics that has become a tool of the government. Now it is the “passing of accounts” of the Civil War, but before those conflicts have already been created in many other fields, with the Celaá law on education, another transformation that will have damaging consequences for the future of the country if it is not amended quickly. It has been the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide that has opened up conflicts where they did not exist, all the more so when at the same time there has been a refusal to devote more resources to palliative care and to resolve the chronic deficit of dependency.
The list of factors that polarise Spanish society, even within the government’s own ranks, such as feminism and the transgender law, unusual events such as the pardon of Juana Rivas to cite the last of these issues, have led the country to the formation of two antagonistic blocs that seriously damage its immediate future, create a deep malaise in periods of crisis and uncertainty, and remove from the minds of citizens the confidence necessary for the country to function reasonably well.