Supporters of the right wing Partido Popular openly called for a new civil war during a pro-Constitutional rally in Madrid yesterday. The demonstration, attended by thousands of conservatives (and a number of neo Nazis) had been called to 'show support for the Spanish Constitution' ahead of next week's Constitution day public holiday. In reality, according to the Socialist government, the protesters were involved in anti-Catalonia movements, and this public meeting was organised as part of a strategy opposed to possible reforms of the Catalan statute of autonomy.
Using classic far-right wing language, PP leader Mariano Rajoy evoked memories of fascist dictator Francisco Franco with his claims "There is only one nation: the Spanish Nation. We are not a Nation made up of other nations, we are a Nation of free and equal people". The disputed changes to the Catalan statute would allow Catalonia to control taxation and even establish a high court which would become the supreme court for all cases conducted in the region. Right wingers and neo-fascists are angered by what they see as an attack on the homogeneity of the 'nation of Spain'.
In truth, however, most inhabitants of Catalonia are in favour of significant changes to the region's governmental power. The current regional government were elected on this platform and include a large number of Catalan Republican Left (ERC) members. It is therefore curious that the PP claim they are 'defending democracy' while simultaneously attempting to defy the democratic will of the Catalan people.
Ever since the former PP government launched a militarist ceremony in Madrid with armed forces chiefs and a giant Spanish flag at its centre, I have been convinced that the PP are not merely a modern conservative party as they like to claim, but that they are the genuine heirs of General Franco's political philosophy and attitude. Now, more than ever, I fear for the future of this country because I am convinced that the PP will win the next election. The number of Francoists is clearly approaching 50% of Spanish voters. I really cannot stress this too much: fascism is not a minority thing here. It really is a powerful and popular idea, and is perhaps reaching new levels of acceptance and organisation.
I fear for Spain because (other than ailing king Juan Carlos) I don't feel that there is any framework in place to prevent a possible coup or military rebellion. The EU ought to be able to help, but in reality it has never been tested in this sort of situation. The US would probably support a right wing rebellion. The rest of the world would likely ignore it, as they did in the 1930s. In short, the PP are willfully pushing Spain towards some sort of ideological confrontation, just as their grandfathers in the Falange did. They're playing a dangerous game, and unfortunately, they don't care.