Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The problems of national-populism with justice

It has been a coincidence that more or less the same days that the Mueller's investigation gets closer to Donald Trump's inner circle, the Spanish justice has called former Catalan president Puigdemont for interrogation. In normal times, with normal political leaders, politicians do not have problems with justice, except perhaps for sexual scandals or corruption allegations. But the problems of Trump and Puigdemont are of a different nature, they have to do with the lack of respect of these leaders for the regular democratic process. A characteristic they share with other national-populists is their institutional relativism. They seem uncomfortable with the division of powers between the judiciary, the executive and the legislative branches of government. They do not seem to understand that democracy requires rules, constraints, checks and balances. The Catalan secessionist movement had planned to declare independence after a referendum organized by themselves, without bothering first to reform the Spanish Constitution that prohibits it (as these things are prohibited in almost all democracies in the world). In the pretend legislation that accompanied their fake self-determination attempt, they had passed a provisional Constitution (with the votes of half of the members of a regional Parliament representing less than half of the regional voters) that subordinated the judicial branch to the executive branch, in practice trying to eliminate the independence of justice. As the circus of Mr. Puigdemont has moved to Brussels (let's leave the word exile for those who really suffered it under tragic circumstances), the international media have now a clearer idea of the conception of justice of the Catalan national-populists. As an expert has told The Guardian in a useful article, “you have two competing visions of democracy that we see replicated across the west. One is a so-called plebiscite, people’s will democracy against a pluralistic, institutional and rule of law democracy. The current leaders of the secessionist camp have been arguing that they represent the people of Catalonia but they only represent a part of it.”

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