••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: From our Correspondent in Spain
Spain - The Next European Problem
In April, 2005 I wrote an article titled ‘Is Spain going Marxist?’ Ever since the new Socialist (PSOE) government of President Pedro Sanchez took over the management of the country in June 2018, through an astute system of government by Royal Decree, thus by-passing parliamentary debating, they have been systematically moving towards the extreme left using every article in the Communist manual of instructions. This is a serious situation that adds fuel to the existing almost unsolvable issues such as the Catalan and other autonomous regions seeking independence, and an annual budget that was questioned by the European Union as unsustainable and has yet to be approved by the plethora of political parties that backed the original ‘lack of confidence’ vote that ousted the previous conservative government (PP) of Mariano Rajoy.
Let’s analyze the above sector by sector.
Much has been reported in the past, both in the national as well as the international news when the original declaration of independence by the Catalan government that was declared illegal by the Spanish Supreme Court. It has reached the stage where the actual separatists are now on trial and for the first time face the judicial system of the country. In other words, they are before judges and facing a real trial no different to any others charged with criminal offences as the insurgents are being tried for treason.
Suffice to be reminded that the Catalan government is made up of a plethora of parties that include left wing nationalists and republicans backed by the Podemos (We can) party of Pablo Iglesias Spain’s Marxist, pro-Venezuelan party. Their Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau is a party member.
The motto is ‘the rich should pay’ to solve the problem of the deprived. This is no different to many social-democrat party manifestos in other parts of the world. However, when one analyzes the small print, or better still the fine print, there is no doubt that the remaining middle-class sector that can still make ends meet and find a few shekels for a holiday for the family is stripped to the bone. The real rich are not affected and are not the bulk of society. On the other side of the equation, the expenditure on social services is gigantic that includes increasing the minimum wage (affects unemployment benefits), increasing pensions, increasing paternity leave (doubled), annulling present labor reforms (companies will tighten their belts and unemployment will rise) and most important of all is the next heading.
The subtle point is hidden in the following increases as part of the overall Podemos program that is built into the original agreement between the present leader Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias. Income tax threshold will be lowered for the bulk of earners known as the ‘mileuristas’ (1000 Euro a month) and raised for the rest. But the subtlety lies in the removal of deductions such as those for discounts in private school tuition fees (read next heading Catholic Church), married couples (joint declarations are now questionable), pensioners (those aged 65 are one sector followed by and added to those over 75) may all be removed. New tax on bank transactions. This has yet to be explained. Increase in corporate tax. Let’s not talk about VAT that will also be hit. And so it goes on.
The majority of private schools in this country receive a subsidy from the government and the overwhelming majority are run by Catholic orders. Apart from the above mentioned sector of the removal of discounts the government intends to impose a property tax on the church similar to those that all owners pay in Spain. There are many institutions that are exempt and the Catholic Church was one. However, it is not clear as to what properties the government is referring to and whether most of the churches and cathedrals are included.
Media, civil service and freedom of expression
It is well known that whoever controls the media controls the ‘people’. Spain is no different. But if a government is able to combine the above three elements it is virtually similar to a totalitarian state. The first thing that happens in Spain when a new party, or in this case a coalition of parties, take over the reins is to substitute all the heads of government, such as the ministries followed by the institutions and other sectors of the country. But the question is to what level does one remove the old mob and replace it with the new. So, to start with the cabinet now comprises a new breed of female ministers that have a strong feminist mandate, hence gender violence, equality and many other of today’s feminist demands are top of the agenda. Next is the media which includes both television and radio broadcasting. Because this country has always been heavily biased towards the left, not only is TVE, the equivalent of the BBC now in the hands of the government, so have many of the other main channels. What does that mean? That the right wing element (we’ll come to that next) hardly exists. This has an impact on ‘freedom of expression’. And for newspapers? Well we do have right wing papers but the most read is ‘El Pais’ (most quotes overseas are from this media) that is left wing. Finally, we come to the Civil Service. The present government has recently announced not only an increase in their salaries but will incorporate them into their socialist programs of management.
The government has finally announced general elections for April. The party is meant to be leading in the polls as there is no doubt that Pedro Sanchez is a handsome and charismatic leader, despite the fact that his vice-President, Carmen Calvo is the one ‘ruling the roost’. He is too busy travelling around the world. But the polls are not always accurate. So what is the present panorama? The major players are the usual bi-party conservative (PP) and socialists (PSOE) followed by newcomers Ciudadanos (every-which-way), Podemos (Marxists) and, yes VOX. This latter group has really caused a stir because for the first time since the Franco dictatorship what could be classed as a ‘far right’ party has appeared from the ashes with what many consider an extreme right program. But reading their outspoken manifesto whereby they defend the Spanish Constitution, the flag, the unity of the country and above all the Monarchy, they are nowhere near the general label given to an extreme right party or group. They have been called every name under the sun, from xenophobic to racist and yet their program is calling for more law and order to control what they consider the complete deviation of the country from proper democratic values. Most of the leaders, except for the conservatives and the every-which-way lot have been lambasting them publicly with the so called slogan of ‘watch out for the right wing bogey man’ that wishes to destroy our democracy.
The removal of the remains of Generalissimo Franco from his resting place in the Valley of the Fallen is driving the government mad as it was one of the main objectives when they came to power. They have hit all kinds of legal problems and the fight still goes on. However, it has suddenly sparked an interest to such an extent that there are now thousands of visitors that flock to take ‘selfies’ not to mention the social media jokes on the subject.
Venezuela has been in the limelight for several reasons. First of all, it has shattered the futile attempts by the previous socialist president Rodriguez Zapatero that has been on a useless backwards and forwards trip to Caracas as a so called pacifier. It has blown the Podemos Marxists’ hidden program that was originally introduced in 2013 that used the Chavez/Maduro regime as a model for Spain. They wanted to start a so called ‘street revolution’ to take justice back to the ‘people’ and last but no least is the number of Venezuelans that are now turning up in Spain seeking asylum.
And finally we must not forget Brexit. If a ‘No Deal’ is the outcome. Well, we all know that nobody knows what will happen. However, a future deal will affect British tourists as well as pensioners and Spain will suffer from the existing income generated by these citizens that will obviously be reduced; not to mention the drop in the pound. The other effect will be on Spain itself as it will need to fasten its seatbelt like the rest of the remaining 27 as the European Union will lose one of the main contributors to the European budget. We’re talking about EU funds and the like.
Enough said for a changing world and a changing continent (Europe). Who knows. Next month starts with ‘April fool’s day’ and we all may wake up to what was really a bad dream.
See you next month, anyway.
© James Skinner March 6th 2019
Totalan - Spain
James Skinner on events in Spain
Once the parents had confirmed that they saw their son fall down the well, a message was sent to the local Civil Guards that in turn triggered the organization of a national coordinated rescue mission. ...
They have called the VOX politicians, including their leader Sr. Santiago Abascal every name under the sun... but they are scared stiff that a new wave of right wing politics may upset the general haven of a so called socialist welfare state that has grown over the past 40 years.