Spain keeps putting off its state reforms as it gradually turns into a picturesque, irrelevant has-been in Europe. The news of the downfall keeps piling up fast and furious without eliciting the sort of public outrage that you would expect in a working democracy where the public is faced with abuse and reacts accordingly. Instead, the standards of Spain’s political system continue to slip.
Spain is hardly the first democracy to have skeletons in its closet and, as a matter of fact, at one point François Mitterrand had the French secret service spy on his favourite actress, Carol Bouquet, on a whim. Likewise, Spain is not the first democracy to have corrupt political parties or a monarch that keeps mistresses and has dubious funds stashed away in a Swiss bank account, under the Treasury’s radar.
Furthermore, Spain is not the only country where the judiciary is politicised and dissidents are persecuted and jailed. Spain is hardly a unique case, but it is a European exception in that the abuse of power has become the norm and its public opinion —whose anti-political sentiment runs deep— remains somewhat unfazed, amid widespread pessimism about the economy.
We knew that the political Transition [following General Franco’s death] was a pact that wiped the slate clean, prevented accountability and did not lead to the sort of shared, mature interpretation of history that would have allowed us to move on.
Yet today we also know that the Transition was a pact built on top of a massive cesspool that has now burst and, unless urgent repairs are made, the stench will become unbearable for many, not only for half the Catalan people.