On 2 May 1808, while blood was still being shed in the streets of Madrid, Napoleon dined in Bayonne with the “kings” of Spain, Charles IV and his son Ferdinand VII. The kings, unaware that on the same day the Spaniards have risen up against the French invader, showered the Emperor with flattery, competing to prove who was the most lowly and miserable. Napoleon, faced with such a spectacle, no doubt thought that if these were the people who ruled Spain, conquering the country would be a piece of cake.
Indeed, the Emperor obtained the abdications of the Bourbons and placed his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. I do not know what Napoleon would have thought if he had seen the spectacle of the passing of Constitution by the Spanish parliament on the 17th of August this year. However, he would certainly have ordered his Mamelukes to pass through the Carrera de San Jeronimo (where the Congress is located, and which on the 2nd of May was the road taken by Napoleon’s Egyptian mercenaries to attack the Spanish patriots concentrated at the Puerta del Sol). For a country whose government depends on its internal enemies is surely ripe for conquest.
The new deputies’ acceptance of the Constitution is the first step to start a new legislature, but it is turning into a real declaration of intent. The PSOE and PP deputies used the usual formula, “yes, I swear” or “yes, I promise”, while those of VOX added a “for Spain”. The spectacle came from the separatists and the communists of Sumar, who gave a whole recital of nonsense and promised the Constitution for the non-existent Catalan and Basque republics, for the defence of the exiled and repressed (after the attempted coup in Catalonia in 2017), for the sovereignty of Galicia, for the anti-Francoist struggle, for the rights of workers, for free time or for the Earth. Moreover, the separatist deputies used Catalan, Basque and Galician. This was a foretaste of what is to come, since the socialists, in order to get their support in the election of the presidency of the parliament, have agreed to the official use of those languages. And this will require translators so that the deputies can understand each other. Curiously, when the separatists meet to see how they can ruin Spain, they understand each other by speaking Spanish. Future parliamentary debates risk becoming a Monty Python sketch.
The election of socialist Francina Armengol as president of Congress was a major victory for Pedro Sánchez, and brings closer the possibility of a new Frankenstein government even more damaging than the previous one. Armengol, who governed the Balearic Islands from 2015 until May this year, is a loyal Sánchez supporter and belongs to the most left-wing of the PSOE. The country’s third highest authority is a supporter of a “plurinational, multilingual and diverse” Spain, feminism and inclusive language. The latter played a dirty trick on her, as usually happens when an invented language used - she referred to “mayores” (elderly people) and “mayoras” (a word that does not exist in Spanish). Although this may also be due her insufficient use of Spanish, since during her rule in the Balearic Islands she promoted Catalan and made it compulsory for doctors and nurses in hospitals (out of the 40 existing medical categories, Catalan was made compulsory for 34 of them). But this was neither the only controversy nor the most serious one during her rule of the Balearic Islands. At the end of 2019, a network of prostitution and drug trafficking involving minors in the custody of Armengol’s government was made public. Those abuses had been known but were kept hidden despite the testimonies of several educators about the sexual exploitation of some girls. The investigation is still open and VOX has played a key role in it, acting as a popular accuser and even taken this scandal to the European Parliament. The new third state authority also broke her own rules during the pandemic, having a few drinks in the wee hours of the morning in true Boris Johnson style - although, unlike the case of the British politician, this did not have any political consequences. As if this were not enough, some media outlets have recently reported that her partner’s gardening company has received 1,455,439 Euros in 16 public subsidies from the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Industry. None of this has prevented a majority of MPs from electing Francina Armengol as president of Congress.
But let us return to Bayonne, because history shows that for the bad guys to win they also need fools. Charles IV and Ferdinand VII were both rather stupid, but the latter compensated for his stupidity with his wickedness - something that could not be said of his father. Charles IV was known for his low intelligence, and on several occasions his father Charles III told him: “But what a fool you are my son”. In fact, he became known as the “divine fool” for his witticisms. And so, when the time of need came and Spain was fighting for its freedom, the king preferred to ignore his people and his allies and threw himself into the arms of his enemies, the French, who despised him. Every age has its heroes, its villains and its fools, and in today’s Spain it seems that the role of the “divine fool” is reserved for the president of the Partido Popular, Alberto Núñez Feijóo. After a lousy election campaign, Feijóo seems determined to make the same mistakes that have led us to disaster. Despite governing with VOX in several regions and cities, Feijóo has continued to scorn his only allies and to ask for the support of honest socialist deputies, an oxymoron given Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE. In fact, the region of Murcia could be condemned to a repeat election due to the PP’s stubborn refusal to agree with VOX, something that escapes all logic after the many government agreements between the two parties. VOX also offered to support Feijóo without asking to join his government. However, then the PP decided not to cede any of its seats on the Congressional Bureau to VOX – which means that for the first time the third party will not be represented there, while Sumar, the fourth political force, has two representatives thanks to the PSOE. As a result, VOX did not vote for the PP candidate for the presidency of Congress - Cuca Gamarra (although the numbers did not allow her to be elected), and has asked the PP for explanations if they want to count on its support.
It is possible that all this is, at the bottom, a twisted strategy hatched in Genova 13 (PP’s headquarters), but then there are the incomprehensible displays of affection towards his enemies, those who have insulted his party and its voters a thousand times over. In a surprising gesture, Feijóo warmly greeted Irene Montero, the exminister of Equality who is leaving Congress and was responsible for the worst laws of the last government, including the reduction of sentences for more than a thousand sex offenders. Of course, everyone is free to greet whomever they please, but when you represent millions of Spaniards who have been insulted and stigmatised, caresses and compliments, are superfluous. And this is also a useless effort, because the more Charles IV tried to please Napoleon, the more the Emperor despised him.
If, as it seems, Pedro Sánchez forms a government with the communists of Sumar, which will be even more conditioned by separatism than the previous one, Spain faces a bleak outlook. Very difficult times lie ahead and we are going to need heroes to face so many villains. What we will not need are fools, divine or otherwise, and certainly not those with inferiority complex.
Francisco José Contreras: “The renewal of the West is the historic task that the New Right must take on”
Francisco José Contreras is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Seville and was a deputy for VOX during the last legislature (November 2019-July 2023).