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8 de juny 2018

"From Rajoy to Sánchez: the Spanish establishment's operation"

by Jordi Barbeta, El Nacional, June 7 2018

*****To read the whole article translated into English click below on "Més informació" *****

Ana Patricia Botín, the president of Banc Santander and point of reference for the Ibex 35 stock index, has celebrated the nomination of Nadia Calviño as the new Spanish economy minister. She says that she's "a guarantee". Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, who two years ago prevented Pedro Sánchez from forming a government with the same support he has achieved now, has also showered the new executive with praise. Rubalcaba is above all a "servant of the state". He belongs to a theoretically republican party, but was the author of the substitution at the head of the state at the right moment to save the monarchy. Rubalcaba is on the editorial council of Spanish newspaper El País, which has become the means of expression of the Spanish "deep state". On 1st June, that newspaper's editorial was called "An inviable government" and now, six days later, with another editor-in-chief, in this case, a woman, their editorial is called "A good cabinet". A week ago, Spain was a country in democratic decline and now, all of a sudden, it seems everything has burst out in colour although, as we've seen, Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras remains in Estremera prison, mopping up. What has happened exactly?

Spain's image in Europe had been profoundly corroded. International media was presenting Mariano Rajoy as the head of a corrupt, incompetent and authoritarian government which was incapable of solving the crisis with Catalonia. And which was creating problems in Europe by forcing the exile of democratic politicians who European courts weren't willing to extradite. Change was a certainty. Pedro Sánchez has put himself in the right place at the right time... when the state needed him.
Mariano Rajoy has decided to abandon politics, but didn't resign as prime minister because the question wasn't to ensure the continuation of the PP government, but to save the state. Rajoy's resignation would have dragged out the political instability indefinitely and wouldn't have offered Europe the change of image which Pedro Sánchez has achieved.

Spain has gone from having the most unpleasant government on the planet to being governed by a cabinet with a female majority, with an admired astronaut and a frivolous journalist. It seems straight from some happy kids TV show, but Sánchez has chosen his cast with intention.

Josep Borrell, with the foreign affairs brief, as a Catalan, is the man entrusted with denying to the world the existence of a democratic Catalan cause. More significant still, however, is the inclusion of Fernando Grande-Marlaska at Interior, which guarantees the continuation of the repressive criteria of the previous government and increases the calm of those from the PP accused of corruption. Grande-Marlaska has been a judge always promoted by the right who had no problem filing the scandalous case of the 2003 Yak-42 airplane crash or deciding that the Foreigner Internment Centres "don't violate basic rights" (link in Spanish). And his nomination is as significant as the "non-nomination" of Margarita Robles, who actually is a lawyer experienced in conflict management and who has been relegated to Defence, a fictitious ministry where all the decisions are technical and determined by NATO and the soldiers. They've embellished the nomination with control of the CNI, when everyone know that the secret service in the end reports to the prime minister.

There's another interesting detail with the new Spanish cabinet: the Andalusian component. With Carmen Calvo as vice-president, María Jesús Montero at the Treasury and Luis Planas at Agriculture, it's guaranteed that, if a new system of funding of the autonomous communities which could calm Catalan pro-independence claims does come to be negotiated, in no case will it be to the detriment of the so-called "solidarity flow" from the north to the south. The president of Andalusia herself, Susana Díaz, has already said that "Montero and Planas are a guarantee for Andalusia", which is a way of saying "we're in charge". The inclusion of the Catalan Meritxell Batet at Territorial Policy will be sold as Pedro Sánchez punting for dialogue with Catalonia, but it's a way of limiting negotiations to a matter of statutory competencies which interests no one.

Certainly, now it's not people nostalgic for Franco who are governing Spain. The European perception of Spain and the Spanish government won't be the same, but judge Llarena will continue to do what he does and peaceful and democratic political leaders will remain in prison or in exile accused of crimes they didn't commit. It all reminds of that maxim from Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change". And it will be substantially more difficult to explain that Catalonia is a victim of a repressive state. Who's to say that we're not seeing a cosmetic, successful state operation?

Translation: El Nacional

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