Monthly Archives: May 2010

Spanish democracy needs Garzón

Crusading judge Baltasar Garzón was temporarily suspended by the supreme court in Madrid yesterday. I say temporarily but the truth is that this could be a suspension that lasts for good. Garzón, a champion of human rights law around the world, is the victim of a lawsuit that pits Spain’s old guard judiciary and far-right wing against those who seek to bring old crimes to justice. Spain, it seems, is incapable of accepting nuance in law when it comes to the responsibilities of judges investigating crimes committed here in Spain.

The fact that there’s a clear campaign against Garzón, led by Spain’s right wing, including the PP, makes this case even more dangerous. What’s at stake isn’t just the career of one judge.

The choice for Spain’s supreme court is simple: apply a law imposed by fascists or accept a nuance demanded by democracy.

Should this be my last UK election?

This week’s general election in the UK has, according to most sources, turned out to be more interesting than was expected. The arrival of live televised debates (coming something like 50 years after the USA started with them), while rightly criticised for increasing the presidential X-Factor feel of the whole thing, has catapulted the Liberal Democrats into a likely ‘kingmaker’ role. Nick Clegg, a man for whom I have very little time, seems to have won over a large number of voters by pretending that his party is somehow offering ‘real change’ as opposed to the ‘change to old times’ of the Tories and the ‘perpetual change’ of Labour.

And the truth is that as something of a politics junkie, I’ve been interested to see just how this electoral race will pan out. But I’m simultaneously conscious of one glaring fact: despite still being English, I’ve been living away from the UK for nearly eight years. I visit the place, but should I really still be entitled to vote there? I reckon that as long as the next British government lasts for a couple of years, I’ll probably be a Spanish citizen by the time the next election takes place. And then, however much I’ll remain English and a citizen of the UK, I’ll have formally accepted that Spain and Catalonia are now my home and perhaps I ought to forfeit my right to vote in the country where I grew up.

This time, I will vote. I’ve asked my proxy (my beloved mother) to vote Labour for me – though as it will be cast in the South West Devon constituency, the vote itself is more of a gesture than anything else. I enjoy taking part in the democratic process and I genuinely long to be able to do so in Catalan and Spanish elections.

My hope is that should a socialist revolution fail to occur in the UK, a Lib-Lab coalition can be elected to reform Britain’s electoral system and the House of Lords, while trying to protect public services. Get that done and I may even vote again…