Tuesday, December 8, 2015
It is not about Spain, it is about Europe
There is a general election in Spain on December, 20th. The ruling conservative Popular Party is running a campaign under a very simple slogan: "Spain". The reason is that the cleavage they try to exploit is the one between unity of the country or secessionism, trying to highlight the separatist threat of the Catalan nationalists (not the majotity of the Catalan electorate) as the biggest issue that the country is facing. Since this issue became a significant one three and a half years ago, the Popular Party of prime minister Mariano Rajoy has done everything in its hands to throw gasoline to the fire, and nothing to offer an institutional federal reform that could accommodate the aspirations of a big majority of Catalan society. Meanwhile, Spain is emerging from the euro crisis mainly thanks to the action and credible promises of the European Central Bank, but doing little to create the foundations of a productive economy in the mid to long run. The Spanish electorate, like the electorates of all countries in the euro-zone, support the common currency, and therefore implicitly call for strengthening the institutions that make the euro-zone stable and prosperous: this means a political and fiscal union. This increasingly federal Europe is unavoidable and desirable in the context of a common currency, and it is in this framework that it is necessary to support strategies of economic growth that serve the purpose of defeating the forces of populism or even the extreme right. In France and England, xenophobic parties of this persuasion are progressing too much and dominating the political agenda. It is a renovated European project that is needed to defeat them. By running on a Spanish nationalist platform, the Popular Party of Mariano Rajoy is also trying to hide the incredible corruption scandals that have affected them in the recent past. They are being investigated for the reception of kickbacks at a large scale, and for the reception of illegal payments to politicians, allegedly affecting even the prime minister. The Spanish electorate has alternatives. A renovated socialist party is not the kind of enthusiastic project that attracts headlines and the social media, but it is just the serious federalist center-left alternative needed by Spain.