JOURNAL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS

JOURNAL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS

SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE AND POLITICS, MGIMO UNIVERSITY, RUSSIA

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24 September 2020

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23 September 2020

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18 September 2020

MGIMO Institute for International Studies Publishes Article in Leading European International Relations’ Journal

Researchers of MGIMO’s Institute for International Studies (IIS) and the Laboratory of International Trends Analysis (LAMP) published their paper in the established European Journal of International Relations. The journal is included in Q1 of both Scopus and Web of Science, ranking top-6 in Web of Science “International Relations” category.

Democratic Values in the Context of Political Situation in Spain

Julia Kuznetsova,
third-year student, School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University

Abstract: This edition is devoted to issues of democracy and it is not by chance. Those countries, which represent democratic values in the best way, are now facing some difficulties: the problem of aging, migrants, the growth of nationalism, public debts. For those who study politics, this whole situation is of great importance and interest. Nevertheless, it’s not that bad. Some countries still manage to overcome the problem which seemed to be unsolvable. In this article the situation in Spain is analyzed as it is in this country that very recently the threat of disintegration was so likely. However, now it seems to be in the process of its recovering.

Key words: the independence of Catalonia, Mariano Rajoy, Pedro Sánchez, the People's party, PSOE, Podemos, Citizens.

About 40 years have passed since the Spanish Constitution was adopted. For 36 years the country was completely subordinated to the totalitarian regime headed by Franco Francisco. There was a huge number of political victims, democratic principles were almost lost. Since Spain adopted the Constitution in 1978, the process of slow recovery has begun.

Now Spain shows impressive results in living standards, takes the second place in terms of life expectancy in the world- 83,2 years. By many characteristics, this is the country with the most favorable conditions of living. The Economist described it as more similar to the Scandinavian country than in fact to the south of Europe. But, unfortunately, not everything is so rosy. There are a number of problems that are not easy to deal with. The increase in public debt (98.8% of GDP), unemployment, a growing percentage of the aging population and finally the question of the independence of Catalonia. All this immediately affects politics.

The last parliamentary elections in Spain destroyed the pre-existing bipartisan system. If earlier there were only two parties in the Parliament - the people's party and PSOE (the socialist party), now there are Podemos – the left party and Citizens – the centrist-right one. The emergence of new parties in Spain is quite a natural phenomenon, as old parties are criticized for their passivity and inability to respond quickly to the difficulties.

The most difficult problem is still with Catalonia, which is almost one fifth of Spain's economy. During the reign of Rajoy – the conflict reached its climax - the illegal referendum on independence. Many blame the policy of Rajoy in conflict deteriorating, the inability to listen and take into account the opinion of the Catalans. He immediately introduced direct rule, dissolving the Parliament. Unable to cope with the worsening situation in the country, members of the Spanish Parliament voted for the resignation of Mariano, also because of the unfolded corruption scandal. A socialist Pedro Sánchez became at the head of the government and he is the first Prime Minister in the history of Spain to be appointed to the post without a popular vote procedure. He now has to improve the situation, and, perhaps, to overcome the crisis of confidence in his party.  His main task will also include the recovery of the Spanish economy after the crisis of 2008.

At the moment, enough time has passed since he took the post of chairman of the government at the beginning of June and we are already able to analyze some of his first decisions.

First of all, he was first to form the majority-female cabinet – 11 women and seven men. The Women's Square appeared in Madrid’s Vicálvaro district. This is not by chance. He is paying a lot of attention to ensure that women’s rights are guaranteed.

Secondly, among his other first steps was to welcome the 629 people rescued by the NGO ship Aquarius. He declared a "sense of solidarity" that the Spanish people had towards these 629 unfortunate "refugees". It was very controversial step. He may be accused of surging immigration in Spain, however, thus he won the favour with his European colleagues for sure.

Pedro Sánchez is now pursuing a more balanced policy towards Catalonia, a Commission on bilateral relations has already been created.

The socialist plan provides four key measures in terms of the Catalans:

1) Recognition and respect of the Catalan national interests.

2) Improvement of the system of self-government in Catalonia by implementing new rules and delineating roles of every department.

3) An agreement on financing autonomy, providing the Catalans with  the necessary resources for large political projects. They promise to annually pay additional 500 million euros to the government of Catalonia on average in the form of public investment. Moreover, he proposes to invest in Catalonia in proportion to its share in the GDP of Spain.

4) Transformation of federal senate into a mechanism of territorial representation, which will help the Catalans to participate more actively in discussing the issues of national importance. Eventually, they say it could lead to such serious constitutional changes as setting federalism.

As we can observe Pedro Sanchez is much more tolerant to the Catalans than his predecessor – Mariano Rajoy and his policy has already eased the tension between government and the Catalans. It is too soon to say that the conflict has been exhausted, however, we can state that the political situation is improving. We also can observe different parties fighting for power and it means that the multi-party system exists, Spanish democracy is developing. Spain has long proved that it is able to stand in line with the most developed countries of the European Union, with competent leadership it will only take time.

References:

  1. [Internet resource]. – URL: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/06/07/what-spain-owes-the-ejected-mariano-rajoy
  2. [Internet resource]. – URL: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/25/honeymoon-over-for-spain-socialists-as-rivals-seize-on-scandals
  3. Peter Pierson - The History of Spain
  4. [Internet resource]. – URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44340879
  5. [Internet resource]. – URL: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/01/catalonia-independence-crisis-new-spain-pm-pedro-sanchez-mariano-rajoy