Dispensable

Someone sent me a Twitter post from a former Catalan leader of Podemos which, unless it is fake (you never know), strikes me as very revealing.

The message claims that, in the effort to tackle the coronavirus emergency, “Spain’s system of regional devolution is not proving indispensable”. It is “a structure built according to political criteria rather than administrative or management needs”. To put it kindly, the assertion rests on two arguable, axiomatic claims. The first one is that this crisis has been handled exceedingly well without the intervention of Spain’s regional governments and, therefore, the latter are dispensable.

I concur that the Spanish regions have played no part in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. But I cannot possibly agree that it has been handled well! You really need to be an unrepentant fan of Pedro Sánchez’s government to make such a claim when the data shows that Spain’s mismanagement of the crisis has been the worst worldwide. Perhaps we would have fared better if —as in Germany— Spain’s regional governments had been allowed a say in the matter.

The second axiomatic claim is this: political structures must be built following management rather than political criteria. It may well be that in business the only important criteria are the administrative kind —some business schools likely teach you that. But political institutions exist to solve political problems, too. For instance, the recognition of national realities. Otherwise, we would get by with just a roomful of consultants.

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