25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Lego Christmas tree, St. Pancras International Rail Station, London, 2011

20 December 2011

A hidden conservative agenda?

Spanish Popular Party got an absolute majority in the last general elections and will be in power very soon. Mr Rajoy made a statement the same night of the elections and told those who didn’t vote for him not to be concerned. Most of us knew what he was talking about. Some of the social advances made by the previous progressive government are thought to be at risk under a conservative rule and fears are not just imaginary.

Regarding an issue that especially concerns me: same sex marriage, the conservative party appealed against it in the Constitutional Court back in 2005. One of the peculiarities of the Spanish system is that of extremely slow judicial procedures. Still at the end of 2011, the Court hasn't said whether gay marriage is constitutional or not. One of the reasons might be the diversity of the judiciary, given by seven years of minority governments. That didn’t allow the socialists to have a clear majority in this institutions, which was good in terms of democratic guarantees.

However, this new majority will allow the conservative party to appoint most of the judges in the Constitutional Court. To those unfamiliar with this system, those judges are elected mainly by the Congress of the Deputies, the Senate and the General Council of the Judicial Power (elected itself by the government and the legislative power), all of them, institutions under a clear influence of the Popular Party after the elections. And the appeal against same-sex marriage, of course, haven’t been withdrawn nor the conservatives wanted to appoint the judges before the elections. The process was blocked intently, although this institution was supposed to be renewed months ago, so they could sit whoever they wanted after winning a comfortable majority. All of this is a very representative attitude of the Spanish political parties.

The elected prime minister has already said in several occasions that he won’t remove this bill, although, of course, he will respect whatever the Constitutional Court says about it. A very democratic attitude if you don’t take into account that he’ll be sure about the result before the vote in the Court takes place. That’s why I still wonder why he doesn't remove the appeal so he is sure that same-sex marriage will persist in Spanish legislation. If he really wants his non-electors to feel comfortable, he could stop giving the impression that there’s a hidden conservative agenda to change essential bills through the back door, that is, manipulating a Court from within.

14 December 2011


The European Union was built as an inclusive institutional framework able to integrate as many European countries as possible, especially the big belligerent in WWII and therefore set up a system to balance the power in Europe and avoid another major conflict. For decades, the idea of a consensus was strong enough to keep European countries together despite their differences because we knew that we were to win more within the Union than separately.

The crisis has led to major changes though. From widening the monetary instruments and the action of the ECB to an extent never imaginable to bailouts of member states, the Europe we knew has been changing quicker than ever, struggling to follow the pace of the financial markets… and now that consensus is broken. Many might not have realised the importance of the British veto but it opens a new scenario in European politics that get us closer to the imbalances of power that destabilised the continent so much.

But what might have been the problem this time? From my perspective: the insatiable willingness of power and influence of the French President. It was this time when it was easier to break that consensus, precisely when more inflexible France (and Germany) showed themselves. But I don’t blame the German position for this result. My assumption is that they only did so to reach an agreement with France and being sure that they could enforce more automatic mechanisms to impose fiscal discipline. They’ve been submissive to France, as usual. And this time France has played dirty.

Sarkozy wanted to secure himself a stronger position within Europe and to do so he needed Great Britain (and if possible, other non-euro countries) out. He knew that David Cameron was to struggle in case he wanted to pass a new treaty in Parliament and in a referendum as well as he was aware that he could not come back to Britain without a guarantee for the City. Sarkozy did not want an agreement, he wanted a breach in the EU and that’s why he put David Cameron in the position of vetoing the treaty. Of course David Cameron was in a weak position and, apparently, didn’t do much to build alliances in Europe to protect his interest in getting a guarantee for Great Britain. And Sarkozy made the most of it with his inflexibility.

In the past months, an intense debate on the Europe to come has been taking place. Germany backs a more inclusive Europe with independent institutions and discipline. Sarkozy wants a smaller Europe, deeper integrated, with a stronger role for national leaders, amongst whom he would have a stronger position. These two Europes at the same time are impossible. One model must prevail. And the last summit only headed towards Sarkozy’s model, apparently more democratic but with more risks. One of those, the new brand polarization of Europe just started to show its ugly face. And for those like me with a strong European sentiment and an admiration for some national systems like the British, there couldn’t be a worst scenario.

Der Spiegel International, December 12th

The Economist, December 9th

06 December 2011

XXXVth Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution

Just thirty five years ago, the Spanish people voted to pass the new brand Constitution. After almost forty years of dreadful dictatorship and a previous horrendous civil war, Spain could achieve under difficult circumstances the aim of a representative democracy. This was not cost-free. Justice had to be put apart, many francoist repressors, among them quite suspects of war crimes, never were to be sat before a court. Despite that pact of amnesty, the new regime brought many laudable benefits: human rights, elections, economic development and the EU membership.

This Constitution was much better than the dream of many. In a Spain where police could enter your house without a judicial authorisation and imprison you for being a left winger or simply homosexual, being a modern democratic European country was unthinkable. The Constitution was a key piece in the transition to democracy, among other things, a gateway to modernity. However, thirty five years later, the weight of its immutability is starting to be too heavy. Structural reforms cannot be undertaken because the procedure set up in the own Constitution is too rigid to benefit anyone but those who doesn't want any change.

There is still some room for hope though as some small political parties have been demanding increasingly such reforms. The topic is not new any more. However, under the current economical crisis and with the well-stablished alternation in government of the two main parties, any change soon is very unlikely. To what extent the current tensions are sustainable without a reform is unknown. This is a classical paradox in political science. A system apparently designed to foster stability can precisely drive the opposite as lack of reform leads to unsustainable situations.

03 December 2011


Friedrich Nietzsche
Alianza Editorial.
178 páginas.

El crepúsculo de los ídolos es el ocaso de una forma de ver la filosofía, el fin del idealismo y, con él, de toda la transvaloración moral. Sin adentrarse profundamente en el aspecto moral, que tratará más detalladamente en su “Genealogía de la moral”, Nietzsche analiza los errores de los filósofos (Sócrates y Platón principalmente) y el carácter intrínsecamente antivital de su creación del mundo “verdadero” frente al mundo “aparente”, creación que responde a un recelo, a un ánimo de venganza propio de la moral de esclavos que se propaga no sólo a través de la filosofía sino también de la religión cristiana y de otros movimientos contemporáneos. El ensayo, de gran fuerza expresiva, termina con unas líneas de boca de Zaratustra: son las palabras del martillo. Sobre las viejas tablas de la ley, nada más lejos del nihilismo, Nietzsche pondrá una nueva tabla. ¡Qué la descubra el lector!

22 November 2011

So... the elections took place

Less than four years ago, on a spring Sunday, I was in a Hotel right in front of the Congress of the Deputies in Madrid celebrating the election of Rosa Díez. It was a big success given the circumstances and a glimpse of the outrage that years later sprouted throughout Spain. My home country needed a change and I was very enthusiastic about the idea of having someone to say so in the Lower House.

However, years have past, Spain is now at the edge of the abyss and nothing seemed to win on Sunday but that system so needed of change. Spanish people must still keep some faith in it, otherwise they wouldn't have given the conservatives an absolute majority. Despite the impression it may give, the new government should face reality and assume that Spain not only needs major economical reforms. It needs political change and that's not any more a change in government. The reasons to reform the electoral system and the legislative power remain there. Sure they will be hidden some time now that the government will not need to compromise in Parliament but future minority governments (the most likely in Spain) could face the same problem any time soon. Small regional parties keep getting an outrageously disproportionate number of seats. On the other hand, regional power is still unbalanced. Spain could successfully adopt a similar system to the German one: an Upper House with national powers and a Lower House to represent regional governments. Not to mention the reform of the judiciary or the Constitutional Court.

All these essential reforms will not take place again due to the same reason. The current system benefits the ruling party the most. The conservatives control now most of the regional governments, will have the national government soon thanks to an unjust electoral system and will control the Constitutional Court and the judiciary as soon as Rajoy is in office. However, the survival of the regime in the long-term will need at least some of these reforms. No one knows what the circumstances for this to happen will have to be though...

Spain need for change seems now higher than three years ago and even more unlikely but for, some reason, I am still enthusiastic enough to sit down and write about this. Maybe we shouldn't forget that the conservatives didn't really increased their support that much... You only need to have a look at Facebook to see that the political mood of the Spanish people is changing. The demand for these reforms is only getting higher. There's still room for hope.

BBC News, 20 November 2011

16 November 2011

General Elections in Spain

This Sunday we will see an uncommon show nowadays in Europe: a government is due to fall because of a democratic elections and not because of the turmoil in the financial markets. However, the reasons behind this fall is clear: the economic crisis plus many other polemic decisions taken by the current government will finally have their effect.

But what is the future for Spain after these elections though? According to the surveys, the conservatives will get an absolute majority. This means change in government and, specially, that there will not be need for parliamentary compromises although it does not imply that we will see big changes. The structural problems will remain the same: lack of productivity and industry, high unemployment and stagnation... Not to mention politics. Spanish democracy really needs a reform: a new electoral bill, a reform of the legislative power, a reform of the regional system and new measures against corruption mainly. None of these will probably take place: both the socialists and the conservatives find themselves very comfortable in a regime that only they can rule thanks to many Spaniards scared of voting a different party or not voting at all.

But there's something sure. The policies drawn by "Europe" since 2009 will follow even harder. Spanish people will get used to austerity. After all, the country has to pay now what we couldn't afford before but cheerfully enjoyed. A long term solution cannot rely on the current institutions or even economic and labour culture though. Spain should face a deep change, much wider than changing a government. It's naïve thinking that the usual politicians, those that have been there for years, even decades, including Mariano Rajoy, can drive a truly change.

01 November 2011


Benito Pérez Galdós
187 páginas.

Benito Pérez Galdós es un autor de obligada lectura, más aún para un español. Su prosa es excepcional. Le gusta escribir con artificio, con una gran riqueza léxica y, al mismo tiempo, consigue una armonía que embauca al lector. A tanta calidad literaria hay que añadir que es un excelente cronista de su tiempo. Por todo ello, la lectura de la Corte de Carlos IV resulta fascinante.

En esta novela, la segunda de la primera serie de los Episodios Nacionales, Gabriel Araceli nos cuenta cómo vivió aquellos momentos de la historia de España, allá por 1807, cuando aún era un adolescente. A través de este humilde narrador, Galdós nos sumerge en el mundo indeciso e inocente del joven Gabriel, en sus inquietudes sobre su futuro y, mejor aún, nos trasmite de forma fidedigna lo que era aquella España, no sólo la historia sino, mejor aún, su intrahistoria, con los vicios y virtudes de los personajes cotidianos de ese tiempo. El lector se ve como un espectador privilegiado de ese viejo reino; de sus luchas intestinas dentro del teatro (lo tradicional contra los clásico, el antiguo régimen contra la modernidad, lo propiamente español contra lo afrancesado); de sus intrigas y sus conspiraciones palaciegas (el Escorial); del descontento de un pueblo llano que sólo ve a un advenedizo sin mérito empeorando el gobierno de los asuntos de la Corona y que busca cualquier clavo ardiendo al que confiarse mientras los estados privilegiados sólo se interesan por sacar tajada, cada uno tomando partido bien por el Rey padre bien por Fernando…

No cabe duda de que para un amante de la historia se trata de la experiencia más deseable. Viajar a 1807 por un módico precio y conocer el sentir de los españoles de entonces y lo mejor: cómo vivían en esa sociedad que, sin saberlo, veía morir el Antiguo Régimen y sucederse importantes acontecimientos para la historia.

22 October 2011

European Economic Government by Nigel Farage

"If you strip people, if you rob people of the most powerful thing they posses in a free society: their ability to vote for and to fire their governments, their ability to be the masters of their on destiny... If you take that from them, all they're left is civil disobedience and violence"
Nigel Farage, UKIP MEP
One of my main interests now regarding current affairs is European politics. A few weeks ago I realised the existence of a very Eurosceptical politician in the European Parliament: Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and speaker of the "Europe of Freedom and Democracy" group in that parliament.

After watching several videos of his speeches and, despite my overall disagreement, I think he has been very consistent in pointing out an issue that should have our attention. What is the state of democracy nowadays in Greece and other bailed out countries? Can we really talk about democracy when a few people from the IMF, the ECB and the Commission are deciding the policies to follow in Greece and the Greek government is a mere executor? What is left for people's sovereignty?

These questions have, if any, a difficult answer. We know what Farage would support: a step back in Greek integration within the EU based on a return to their own currency and, therefore, to their own fiscal policy. But, without discussing if that is what makes more sense in economical terms, there is another political question. Could a federal EU back this intervention in Greece? Or, in other words, if the EU developed democratic federal institutions, would European sovereignty back this measures in Greece?

21 October 2011

Pepe Think Tank is born

[Original] Three years ago I got involved in my first serious attempt to become a regular blogger. The result is good so far, at least, because I keep posting regularly, till now on Quiero Un Dominio, from now on, on this blog. These years I have evolved both politically and personally. I still remain strongly committed to the defence of Human Rights and democracy, and tend to consider myself, above all, an independent person able to criticise both right and left, conservatives and social democrats, without forgetting that the most important task that political commentators should have, if I dare to consider myself one of them, is criticising everybody one consider is doing the wrong thing on the political arena. This is not a political or economical website though. I will also post about philosophy, literature, and, more rarely, films and art. I cannot assure a great commitment or much research as this is basically an opinion blog but I can assure that what I post here is my own opinion, I hope, sufficiently informed. Welcome to my new adventure and thanks to you all for following me. I hope I will not bore you!


Nace Pepe Think Tank

[Traducción] Hace tres años me involucré en mi primer intento serio de convertirme en un blogero habitual. El resultado es bueno hasta el momento, al menos, porque sigo publicando con regularidad, hasta ahora en Quiero Un Dominio, de ahora en adelante, en este blog. Estos años he evolucionado tanto política como personalmente. Aún sigo fuertemente comprometido con la defensa de los Derechos Humanos y la democracia, y tiendo a considerarme, ante todo, una persona independiente capaz de criticar tanto a la derecha como a la izquierda, conservadores y social demócratas, sin olvidar que la tarea más importante de los comentaristas políticos deberían tener, si me atrevo a considerarme uno de ellos, es criticar a todos aquellos que uno considera que se están equivocando en la arena política. Sin embargo, este no es un blog político o económico. También publicaré sobre filosofía, literatura y, más raramente, de películas y arte. No puedo asegurar una gran dedicación o mucha investigación ya que este es básicamente un blog de opinión, pero puedo asegurar que lo que publique aquí será mi propia opinión, espero, suficientemente informada. Bienvenidos a mi nueva aventura y gracias a todos por seguirme. ¡Espero que no os aburra!