International Writers Magazine: Opinion
is a fascinating country, geographically diverse, historically
rich, comfortably wealthy and extremely hospitable. Its people
is a mixture of gypsies, moors, Jews, Celts, Romans, Turks and
Vikings that in turn inhabit non other than 17 autonomous regions,
each considering themselves different from the others that range
from the Kingdoms of Galicia and Asturias to the Republic of Catalonia.
Up until the late XIX century Spain ruled over a large area of
colonies spread throughout the world competing for first place
with Britain and France.
On the dark side,
Spains history is riddled with rebellions, coupes, military dictatorships,
monarchies, civil war, more dictatorship, and finally a consolidated
democracy that permitted its entry into todays modern world and
the European Union. Its economy has flourished and what is even more
important it is respected in todays international political arena
as a free and peace seeking country. But there are clouds rising on
the horizon and although they are somewhat related to the present world
economic scenario, Spains uniqueness is about to implode.
When Generalissimo Franco died in 1975, after 40 years rule of iron,
the country stood still whilst the rest of the world expected the worst;
back to the civil strife of the 30s. However and although never
admitted by todays left, the way had been paved by the Franco
Regime, once the old boy died, for a young descendent of
the Borbon dynasty, Prince Juan Carlos to be crowned King of Spain and
Head of State who in turn would form an interim government whilst a
new constitution was drawn up to lay the foundation for the future establishment
of a modern democracy. It worked!
A transition government lead by President Adolfo Suarez was formed,
the Spanish Constitution finalised and ratified, elections held and
a Socialist government led by Felipe Gonzalez governed Spain for the
next 18 years. Many political parties immerged, including the Communists,
trade unions were established, social schemes were implemented and most
important of all, Spain joined the European Common Market thus having
access to billions of structural funds that allowed it to grow into
the modern state that it is today. But like all good things that must
come to an end, trouble is now brewing from within the political system
Ever since democracy, the Basques have been ruled by the PNV, the left-wing
nationalist party that has constantly flouted the main government with
threats of a referendum on independence. ETA, a Basque separatist movement
began its own demands through intimidation and terrorist violence although
its own political wing Batasuna had been constantly declared illegal
by the main government. On the other hand, in Catalonia, although governed
by the CiU, a right-wing nationalist party, full independence had never
been raised as an issue. The Socialists in Madrid saw to that by flooding
the region with European funds. Ignored Galicia, in the northwest, considered
as the countrys underdog, had its own bag of nationalism, the
BNG just waiting in the wings to see what the big two of the north finally
obtained from Madrid. But in the 1995 elections, Spain took a sudden
turn to the right. The PP (peoples party) won by a small majority,
and thanks to a coalition with the CiU of Catalonia was able, amongst
other achievements to maintain Spain united despite the brewing separatist
movements mentioned earlier. They won a second term, this time with
a huge majority in the 1999 elections and although were set for a third
term in the 2003 elections along came Al Qaedas Trojan horse,
a few days prior to voting date and blew up four Madrid trains killing
nearly 200 people and injuring another 2000.
Rodriguez Zapatero, head of the left wing main opposition party, PSOE
could not believe his eyes when the final results came in that placed
the party ahead of the PP and was proclaimed the new President of Spain.
Ah! But Pandoras Box was about to be opened. ZP, as he is nicknamed
could not govern in isolation and had to pact with practically all the
left wing minority parties throughout the country. This meant that nationalists,
republicans, communists and the odd anarchist, all those that had been
declared illegal during Francos rule not only obtained seats in
the National Assembly but also held the golden vote whenever
new legislation was introduced by ZPs socialists. The opposition,
PP was left completely on its own although they had obtained nearly
half the countrys votes. Result?
Three situations developed in the next few years. The first was that
the government turned the whole system on its head after 8 years of
conservatism by instituting radical reforms. These naturally upset the
opposition who began a campaign of lambasting the left wing. The second
was the effect this change had on the country. It was openly
split down the middle between a right wing and a cocktail of left wing
sympathisers. Finally the nationalists in the three regions would only
support the main party in power if their demands were met
that hinted indirectly at full independence.
The first two situations were complementary. Despite continued economic
growth, the socialist had literally been emptying the piggy bank. They
introduced a great deal of benefits from pensions to single parents,
from students to feminist institutions, from subsidised housing to extra
free medical services; no pocket of any underdog sector had been left
without money. Naturally the conservatives continued to point out the
eventual danger of emptying the countrys coffers. So far they
havent dared hammer the taxation sector because elections are
now due in a months time and world economics are also having a
negative effect in Spain that is hitting the voters pockets. Added
to the goodies for all a major flop has been the governments
disastrous negotiations with ETA to persuade them to lay down arms.
ZP tried to imitate Tony Blairs epic peace agreement in Northern
Ireland by carrying out secret meetings with the terrorist group. He
tried to make a name for him in the history books. It literally backfired
as ETA blew up part of Madrids airport, just before Christmas
in 2006, killing two people in the attempt. They have been bombing and
murdering ever since.
On the international front, the first thing ZP did was to pull out the
troops from Iraq. He was lucky; Iraq turned into a complete mess. Had
the reverse been the case, ZP would today be eating his heart out. Since
then he has snubbed the USA, has lost general support from his buddies
the Germans (Merkel) and French (Sarkozy) and what is more surprising,
sucked up to the likes of extreme left wingers in Venezuelas Chavez,
Cubas Fidel Castro and Bolivias Morales. Even this has backfired
as both Venezuela and Bolivia have nationalised their oil and gas industries
and chucked the Spanish investors out of their respective countries.
Spains international clout and political image, once held in high
esteem during the conservative days, has almost disappeared.
Not all changes can be viewed as negative. ZP introduced legislation
allowing gay marriages, equal rights for women and is trying, almost
in vain to fight for peace in the world by introducing a unique program
supported by the United Nations called Alliance of Civilisations,
in order to bring together the religious factions that are continuing
to destroy the human balance of beliefs into a consensus of mutual harmony.
Trouble is that Al Qaeda is after al Andalus (Spain) and
this program does not quite gel with the Islamic fundamentalist world.
However, its the third situation that is the most dangerous and
the one that could turn this country upside down.
The break up of Yugoslavia that ended after one of the most brutal wars
in Europe following WWII resulted in the independence and emergence
of new states ranging from Croatia to Montenegro; all eager to join
the EU. Slovenia is already a member. The final episode to this conflict
and last remaining state to seek independence, presently supported at
United Nations level is Kosovo. If Kosovo is given full independence
from Serbia it could have an enormous impact on Spains geopolitical
If the result of the elections in Spain on the 7th of March reinstall
the present political set up of a minority ruling by socialists backed
by the three main nationalist parties, Catalonia, the Basque country
and Galicia, the breakup of the country will be on the top of the agenda
and the nationalists will use the outcome of Kosovo as an example. The
country will be faced with a similar situation to the 1930s; unity
Once again, Spain will be truly divided.
© James Skinner. February 2008.
a Mad World
do we feel about whats being going on and what lies in store for
us in the coming year?
Galician Ganja Trail
Weve got a real potpourri of world problems going
on at the moment with a whole sleuth of experts in all fields trying
to solve them.
Read an extract of James Skinner's
Goa File Author: James G. Skinner
(pp: 395) ISBN: 978-81-8253-079-9
Availability: In Stock (Ships within 1 to 2 days)
Publisher: Cyberwit.net, Allahabad, India
Pub. Date: Jan 2007
James G. Skinner, as he is know to his friends in Vigo, Spain was
born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a retired telecommunications
expert who has travelled the world over having worked for some of
the greatest of todayıs conglomerates such as Cable & Wireless,
US Sprint and British Telecom. Having lived in many different and
disparate countries spread across several continents, his knowledge
of and experience with people from different ethnic groups and social
backgrounds is second to none. He is a regular writer in Spanish
in the local papers of Galicia and is currently the Honorary British
Consul in the region. (read more)
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