The International Writers Magazine: Spainish Politics
From our archives 2005
SPAIN GOING MARXIST?
James Skinner on the new political
divide in Spain
the symptoms are there, it's no different to the initial months
of Fidel Castros Cuba in the sixties to Salvador Allendes
Chile of the nineteen seventies. An exaggeration? Perhaps. Lets
take a look at some recent events.
To start with, Spains
new socialist government has got it in for the United States. During
a 12th of October military parade in Madrid two years ago, Jose Rodriguez
Zapatero refused to stand up as the US contingent passed by his booth.
Photographs showing him sitting down, as the large flag of the Stars
and Stripes waved before him flashed across Spain. Prior to the elections,
his vociferous attacks on the US because of the invasion of Iraq were
daily news both on television and in the newspapers. His main pledge,
if he became Prime Minister was to remove the Spanish troops from that
war torn country.
Somewhere in Al Qaedas infamous camp, murderous plotters were
taking note of Zapateros venomous rhetoric. On the 11th of March,
2004 they attacked four suburban trains arriving at Atocha station in
Madrid leaving 190 dead and over 2000 wounded. This occurred three days
before the Spanish general elections. The use of ETA tactics to blow
up the trains confused the incompetent intelligence services. The government
innocently or purposefully, depending on political inclinations, quickly
blamed the Basque separatists for the atrocity. The result, after the
elections, was a surprise victory for the socialists. Zapatero became
The first move he made as the new Spanish leader was to immediately
remove the troops from Iraq, despite the fact that his original promise
was to await a UN decision on the future of the country. His second
international act was a swing towards a German and French undercover
alliance in Europe thus turning his back on Tony Blairs pro-US
government in order to cement a stronger socialist alliance on the mainland.
Meanwhile his newly appointed Foreign Minister Sr. Morantinos, a former
European Union Middle Eastern envoy, far from stretching a hand across
the Atlantic, embarked on a series of liaison trips ranging from Morocco
to Cuba reinforcing bi-lateral ties of dubious intentions.
But its on the home front where the new government is showing
far left inclinations in future policies. Due to their minority representation,
they have had to form a series of alliances in order to obtain a majority
ruling in the National Parliament. This includes a plethora of left
wing individual groups and red wing faction parties throughout
Spain. A second dramatic event occurred in the region of Catalonia.
The autonomous elections, also held a year ago, evicted
the right wing nationalist party, CIU after over twenty years and paved
the way to yet another alliance between Socialists and extreme leftists
in the Regional Parliament of Catalonia. This time though, the golden
vote fell into the hands of the staunch Republican Party of Catalonia.
They are staunch Communists and appear to be ruling the roost.
Another dramatic move has been the governments distancing from
the Catholic Church. Even after the end of the Franco dictatorship and
return to democracy each successive government has continued to support
the Christian faith as the cornerstone of religious belief. Not this
one. To start with Zapatero has declared Spain a secular state. To add
insult to injury he has revoked the previous governments education
system with the intention of removing religious education in Spains
schools. Roman Catholic teachings were to be thrown out of the window.
Not only did an enormous row erupt with the Spanish bishops but it split
Spains society down the middle. When Pope Paul II passed away
only recently, almost every leader in the world conveyed their condolences
and those belonging to the Christian faith such as Brazil and Portugal
declared several days of mourning. Not Zapatero or his government. Several
members of his party refused to stand up for a minutes silence
in Parliament. Even King Juan Carlos paid his respects despite the governments
silence. It wasnt until the overwhelming majority of the worlds
populous turned up in their millions to pay their last tribute to the
Pontiff in Rome that the Spanish leader reacted. He was actually taken
by surprise, eventually deciding to attend the funeral and declare a
token one day of mourning in Spain. The row however, continues.
Francos Nationalists won the Spanish Civil War nearly seventy
years ago. Franco died thirty years ago. Todays generations were
born into a democracy that recently celebrated over twenty five years
of a supposedly binding Constitution that was meant to unite, once and
for all, every citizen of this country. The Magna Charta established
seventeen autonomous regions with their own regional president and parliamentary
representation. Over the years, even with various changes in left and
right wing governments, the system has worked relatively well. Thanks
to European integration as well as funding, Spain has prospered into
a strong and stable nation.
Since democracy, the Basque region has been ruled by the left wing nationalist
party, PNV. Their president, Sr. Ibaretxe has continually upheld a conviction
that they are not Spanish, that Spain is a foreign country and that
somehow they should be allowed to govern their own future. Up until
now, Madrid has been able to hold the lid on the ever present boiling
pot in the north. Things have changed since Zapatero took over. Ibaretxe
presented a new separatist Plan to the Spanish parliament
that was rejected by both majority parties, the Socialist PSOE and Conservative
PP. It doesnt matter. He now intends to hold a referendum, declared
illegal by the government, for the same purpose. The Basques want total
independence from Spain.
The Catalans are following suit. Not only has the weak President
of Catalonia endorsed Ibaretxes plan, supposedly seeking to pursue
similar ends, he has out rightly suggested that the Basque socialists
join forces with the Communists in the forthcoming elections in the
Basque country thus forcing the issue of independence further down the
Reverting back to the international arena, Zapatero has recently spent
time with another Marxist oriented leader, Hugo Chavez in
Venezuela. He has even sold the country a few gun boats, against the
will of the US government. Naturally! He has also suggested to the European
Union that they should lift sanctions with Cuba. So far George Bush
and his administration have given a blind eye to the whole set up. In
fact they seem to go out of their way to completely ignore Zapatero
and his lefties.
In the meantime, a year into this new Spanish government, the majority
ratings continue to favour Sr. Zapatero as a good and charismatic leader.
Pretty obvious since among other things, he has legalised gay marriages,
declared war on domestic violence, increased pensions and minimum wages,
promised thousands of housing schemes for the young and filled his cabinet
with women. All good for morale.
Big question is how long will the Spanish economy support his lavish
left wing tendencies? Foreign investment is dropping and economists
are already beginning to fire up warning signals. People are beginning
to feel the pinch as the cost of living goes up and unemployment begins
to raise its ugly head.
Trouble times ahead so I suggest you watch this spot!
© James Skinner. April, 2005.
Second Chance in Spain
Not since the end of the Franco dictatorship and the introduction of democracy 40 years ago has this country been faced with a new and dramatically uncertain future.
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James Skinner 1.5.16
The shortest Parliament in Spain’s history has been dissolved. New General Elections are schedule for the 26th of June. It’s party time all over again.
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One half, that back the leader Sr. Sanchez are willing to strike a deal with almost everyone on the left ... the other half are dead against.
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