It seems that the BBC are reporting on a new opposition demonstration in Madrid every weekend now, inadvertently showing the pictures of falangist flags and Nazi salutes that the Spanish media seems not to see. There's no doubt that the PP has a decent base of around 30,000 activists it can rely on to be bussed to Madrid on a Saturday morning with their flags and their kids (the rest of the attendees seem to be MadrileÃ±os). But the aims behind the demos are a much more cloudy affair.
The official rationale behind the marches is this: the PSOE is selling Spain out to ETA by doing things like talking with them and releasing prisoners early. The PP wants anyone who's opposed to Spain's destruction to feel an affiliation with those marching in Madrid. Never mind some inconvenient truths, such as: the PP government released no fewer than 64 prisoners on the same basis as De Juana Chaos's original release schedule. Either the PP deserve the wrath of the people for this behaviour, or the idea of releasing people early, in line with the judgement of the courts, is not as blood-curdlingly awful as they say. The PP also held secret negotiations with ETA and offered to move other prisoners to the Basque country, in line with ETA demands.
But for some reason, these facts are either forgotten or not seen as a betrayal of Spain. Why not? The only explanations are that either they're not evidence of a betrayal of Spain; or that those people demonstrating don't really care about justice; or that the people demonstrating are being misled by political agitators about the actions and aims of both the present government and their predecessors.
In their largely unsuccessful co-opting of traditionally left-wing means of protest, the PP fail to offer one important thing: their alternative. They're opposed to dialogue with ETA, so how do we achieve peace in the Basque country? Not interested, is the response. "Wipe them out" is the stupid and unhelpful proposition from some foreign observers (who've never had to live under the threat of terrorism). The truth is that no solution will ever be found without dialogue. It's going to be painful and tricky but those who suddenly oppose talks now are only delaying the inevitable.
The absence of a true alternative is a permanent feature of PP political activity. They rarely, if ever, propose an alternative solution to the problems they perceive in Spanish society. What they're good at is making a lot of noise, using a lot of invective and waving a lot of flags. They don't seem to bring anything to the table beyond opposition for opposition's sake.
But it's not just the PP who are responsible for attracting people to these demonstrations. The AVT, while effectively a grassroots campaign group for the PP, technically remains a separate entity which can therefore attract people who don't consider themselves to be PP supporters so much as non-aligned anti-terrorists. The AVT's website, though, says very little about terrorism or its victims. It's dominated by a banner which calls for an "Unstoppable Civic Rebellion"*. El Mundo and El Cope both make encouraging noises about attending the demos, and insist on calling them 'protest for freedom' and other such nonsense. Finally, Libertad Digital, the online newsletter of the far-right, uses unashamedly old-style falangist calls to arms or outright lies to encourage their sorry (and declining) readership out into the streets.
There are those in the PSOE who accuse this united front of plotting (or even attempting) a coup d'etat against the elected government. I think that's an exaggeration. But I can understand the fear these people are begining to cause among supporters of the constitution and a modern, progressive society. Just what is it they really want?
*I may be a bit simple, but can someone explain the specific differences between a 'civil war' and a 'civic rebellion'…? They sound quite similar to me.