Just as Greece joined the euro although its economy was not qualified, Spain joined the EU despite a strong fascist political force. We know how the former ended.
Toni Strubell is a former MP in the Catalan Parliament, journalist, and author of What Catalans Want
Núria Bassa Camps is a Catalan writer and photographer
We would like to thank professor Henry Ettinghausen his support with the article
Article publicat en catalan aqui
Photo: A fascist demonstration in Barcelona’s Plaça Sant Jaume
Two major events occurring in recent weeks have made it clear that Spain’s particular revival of fascism is as complex-free as it is breathtakingly swift. On the judicial front, the Constitutional Court (in a 7 to 4 vote) has recently ruled in favour of the far-right VOX’s parliamentary rights. It has overruled a Basque Parliament initiative to create a cordon sanitaire around this fascist party’s single MP there, thus limiting the party’s range of action. On the political front, the recent creation of a coalition of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and VOX in the Castile-Leon region – granting the post of its Parliament’s speaker and the vice-presidency of its government to the fascists – goes well beyond the external support given by VOX in 2018 to a PP-centred government in Andalusia. All former red lines are being crossed and the floodgates against fascism have been reopened.
This turn of events is especially worrying, as it comes hand in glove with the blessing accorded to Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the current in pectore leader of the Partido Popular. (Wasn’t he meant to be the moderate alternative to populist Pablo Casado?) Indeed, things have got so out of hand that it was the head of the PP in Castile-Leon, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, who had to insist that his VOX partners weren’t really fascists at all, cynically denying all proof to the contrary. But a glance at their programme for male violence – an issue that negationist VOX cynically disguises as “family violence” – and their policies for immigration, leave no room for doubt. With pitifully little resistance, the fascists have worked their way into government, albeit a regional one for starters. What is going to stop them now? Recent polls (and massive media coverage) suggest that their eventually forming part of the government of Spain is simply a question of time. Significantly, even the president of the European Popular Party, Donald Tusk, has felt the need to express his worry over his Spanish partners’ agreement with VOX. In this sense, Spain can even be seen to have surpassed the bleak forebodings for some Scandinavian and Central European countries, where the totalitarian onslaught of the far-right has been depicted as more gradual and “invasive”, if one may use the term. In Spain it appears to sprout from the very heart of the State and its institutions. Jordi Borràs, a journalist and analyst of the far-right, puts this down to the fact that fascism was never truly expelled from power in Spain, the only EU country where it was never actually beaten in a military sense.
But it is on the judicial front where the all-important early steps were taken to allow VOX into the chicken run of institutional life. At the key Supreme Court (SC) trial against the Catalan leaders in 2019, VOX was allowed to act as private prosecutor against the Procès towards independence for Catalonia, thus giving the fascists several months of lavish TV publicity. As a result, some defendants at that already heavily loaded trial refused to answer their questions, while defence witnesses who followed suit are now facing fines and suspensions. What was palpably obvious to so many independent observers – the complicity of SC judges with the positions of VOX – will shortly have to face the scrutiny of the European courts, where things have not been too favourable to Madrid’s demands so far.
On this judicial front, a further upset for democracy came last week with a Constitutional Court (CC) ruling affecting the Basque Parliament. The CC has annulled the decision of the Basque Parliament board to apply a cordon sanitaire around the far right, as occurs in some other EU countries. This ruling now entitles VOX to full party group status (with just one MP!) and the capacity to participate in and to call debates and other parliamentary initiatives. In trying to prevent this, the Basque parties had sought to emulate France’s and Germany’s bars on Marine Le Pen’s party. Thanks to the CC judges, they will not be able to impose the same kind of limits that the French parties (from neo-Gaullist right to the Communists) have already agreed to impose on the up-and-coming National Regroupment. Whereas in Germany, with the political weight wielded by Angela Merkel, the far-right has long been exposed to political isolation, Spain will act in exactly the opposite direction. Even in areas of power where there is a will to check the fascists, high courts dominated by Vox and PP-orientated judges will ensure that no limits are put on VOX’s access to power. In accordance with a tradition that is now over eighty years old, protection for the far-right is guaranteed in a State whose legitimacy is based on the very Francoist foundation it was built on.
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