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Ignacio María Olábarri Gortazar, Full Professor emeritus of Contemporary History

Politics, history and report in the aftermath of the 20-D elections

Sat, 02 Jan 2016 12:20:00 +0000 Published in ABC

The results of the recent general elections cannot be explained only by the reactions of citizens to a plural political offer or by the changes that Spanish society has undergone since 2011. Other, more far-reaching factors have influenced them. The emerging parties have questioned the Spanish democracy of recent years and have pondered the need for a "Second Transition". It is a question, especially for Pablo Iglesias, of overcoming "turnism" -a clear allusion to the system of the Canovist Restoration of Socialists and Populars. They do so on the basis of the most controversial decisions of the second government of Rodríguez Zapatero. Three of them seem to me to be particularly significant: the Same-Sex Couples Marriage Law of 2005; the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 2006; and the Law of Historical report of 2007.

The first of the aforementioned measures legally introduced gender ideology in Spain, based on an ethical relativism incompatible with the affirmation of natural law, with the freedom of man created by God with "rules of the game" among which is the definition of the family as the society resulting from the union between a woman and a man.

The Statute of Catalonia, submitted to referendum in June 2006 -following the 2004 "sovereignty" plan of the Basque Prime Minister Ibarretxe, which was so short-lived-, did not satisfy either pro-independence or constitutionalists and gave way to a new wave of sovereignty demands that has continued up to the present day.

At the heart of the problem lies the very identity of Spain: is Spain a nation or are we rather facing a plurinational State? Rodríguez Zapatero already advanced at the time his opinion in favor of the latter conception, which is one of the points core topic of the political program of Podemos and possibly one of the most powerful reasons for its electoral appeal. This is the most popular manifestation of the "right to decide", which, by the way, is not included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and which must be related to the Leninist interpretation of the right to self-determination.

The question is, in turn, linked to the evolution of the State of Autonomies from the 1978 Constitution to the present day. It seems to me unquestionable that the longest and most stable democratic period in Spanish political history has also been a stage in which the autonomous powers, making use of the nationalizing force of the system educational and the means of communication at their disposal, have done more to create or consolidate particular national consciences than to reinforce the bonds of identity among all Spaniards.

The role of symbols and report has been core topic in this sense. And not only for the process of "nationalization" of Catalans or Basques, but also for the reinterpretation of the entire history of Spain in the 20th century. The Law of Historical report of 2007 underlies a vision of the Second Republic understood as the first Spanish democratic regime, an express condemnation of the 1936 uprising and the regime of General Franco, which would also affect the Monarchy of Don Juan Carlos, since he was appointed successor by the dictator.

This easily explains both the decisions to expurgate street vendors and the criticism of the form and the protagonists of the "First Transition", despite the fact that the vast majority of those who lived through it saw in it the best way out of the Cainite path along which contemporary Spanish history had been introduced. It is not understood, however, how the idealization of the Second Republic could obviate the fact that, between 1931 and 1936, so many uprisings against the regime took place. In particular, it is not understood why the names of generals such as Sanjurjo, Franco or Mola had to disappear from the map, while those of the leaders of the PSOE -a PSOE still committed to Marxist socialism, not to social democracy- Francisco Largo Caballero and Indalecio Prieto or the president of the Generalitat Companys, who in October 1934 also rose up against the legitimate republican powers, were kept on the map.

In my opinion, Spaniards are living today in a crucial moment in which our own identity and our future are at stake. There is no doubt that political corruption, the economic crisis and social inequalities largely explain the atmosphere in which the recent general elections took place and their results. But it is also important not to forget the role played by the reinterpretation of our immediate past and the new spiritual climate of Spain at the beginning of the 21st century, which is openly different from the Christian conception of life that has permeated our history as a nation open to Europe and the world.