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Constitution, Democracy, Monarchy

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PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF SOCIOLOGY (UCM)Updated:07/12/2018 03:26h

Forty years of constitutional stability are, without doubt, a milestone that deserves more than a formal recognition. Because there is nothing usual about the democratic stability, neither in our history nor in the comparative. If we look at this last, we will see that, besides the Constitution of the united States, the oldest (and the only one from the EIGHTEENTH century), we have four other democratic constitutions in the NINETEENTH century (Norway In 1814, Holland 1815, Belgium 1831 and Denmark in 1849) and, as in the TWENTIETH, five others (Ireland, 1937, Italy 1947, Germany 1948, France 1958, and Sweden in 1974), to get to Portugal in 1976 and Spain in 1978, pioneers of the great third wave of transitions to democracy that was unleashed after the fall of the USSR in 1991. But more important is to highlight this stability in our political history, in which we can only find a comparison: the Constitution of 1876, which was to last until 1923 (formally until 1931), that is to say, nothing less than 47 years.

Indeed, in our recent history we have had two restorations monarchical to compare with other two republics. And what lessons can we draw from it? As we know if the first republic lasted for a year, consuming four presidents and giving rise to no less than three civil wars (the carlist, other cantonal and the third in Cuba), the second, received more illusion even, would last less than a decade, generating a terrible civil war from which would emerge a dictatorship that was to last for another forty years. The summary, not by matizable, ceases to be a resounding: two republics of a few years duration, a dictatorship of more than 40 years, and two monarchies of other so many years each. And without a doubt, the best periods, indisputably, the two monarchies, the two restorations.

Adolfo Suárez conversa con Felipe González, en presencia de José María Triginer.
Adolfo Suarez chats with Felipe Gonzalez, in the presence of José Maria Triginer. – EFE

Santos Juliá has written that, if we are more thrones have toppled, we are also the most thrones we have restored. Fortunately. As with Alfonso XII and the first restoration Spain had for the first time bourgeois society, alternating policy, public administration, justice and a free press, industry, universities, opera, and even science (and remember to the Board of Extension of Studies, the beginning of modern science in Spain). And the second restoration, now in the figure of Juan Carlos I and in the framework of the 1978 Constitution, it would be the period most fruitful in our history.

Nothing made him suspect. Before, on the contrary. At the beginning of the 60’s Spain remained a country outcast and stigmatized in the european framework. A remnant of the dictatorship defeated in the Second World War in an environment full of democracy; with an economy the autarkic and closed when it functioned as the european economic community; and with a culture fundamentalist and intolerant when the counter-culture parisian and californian was beliefs and attitudes. Everything was suspect, therefore, that, after the death of general Franco in our history would take up the course of violence, fratricide and cainita that persecuted us from more than a century.

But an unexpected thing happened. And it came to pass, in good measure, because you expected otherwise. It is No coincidence that a good number of consolidated democracies are the result of terrible civil wars that give rise to collective learning: never more, never more. No binds us to love, but the fright, Borges said. England, the united States, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and many other democracies, are the result, not of forgetting, but of remembrance, even obsessive, of the violence originated. The Spanish democracy has its firm foundation in the conviction that the Civil War was a collective catastrophe to avoid and sits in the rejection of the same, but not from the lack of memory as is ensured, but, on the contrary, from his memory. So, when the so-called Historical Memory about placing this democracy in one of the parties against the other, despising the story (in Spain there was a civil war, not only a statement by the military), does a disservice to democracy because pretending to anchor what it does is to divide it.

“Spain is one of the stable societies of Europe: without polarization or aggressiveness in the life of the city”

It is not necessary to repeat the enormous progress achieved in these forty years, advances that the Spanish are very aware of. At the height of 2010, a survey of the Middle showed that anything less than a 72% of spaniards claimed categorically that the current democracy constitutes the time period in which the best has been our country in its history. Result of a mature society, prudent, educated, and hard-working, more conservative, although autodefina as center-left. Even today, and if we are able to let go of the serious conflict Catalan (it is not easy, I admit), Spain is one of the stable societies of Europe: no parties or public opinion eurófoba, without xenophobia or islamophobia, and without bias or aggressiveness in the life of the city. Only the political clash in this scenario. Let’s look at Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, germany, even England or the united States. And let’s compare.

And this is because, in spite of certain speeches, we have solid bases of political legitimacy that the more recent survey by the CIS (3223) has come to confirm. 85% of spaniards still prefer democracy to any alternative, even if they are dissatisfied with their performance (more “little” to “nothing” dissatisfied); it is a fact by no means common. And asked if the way it was carried out the Transition to democracy in Spain is a matter of pride answered yes to three out of every two (67%), and even the majority of young people (18 to 24) are in agreement. Another majority is very or fairly satisfied with how we have gone with this Constitution, while 70% stated that after that there is that to reform it (and the majority, 49%, think that should be “an important reform”).

Ejemplar orginal de la Constitución de 1978 y su reforma de 1992 en el archivo del Congreso de los Diputados Madrid
Copy original of the Constitution of 1978 and its amendment of 1992 on the file of the Congress of Deputies, Madrid – MATIAS NIETO

And the most important thing today: less than 0.2%, referred to the Monarchy as a relevant problem. Hit again the spaniards to trivialize the foolish speech that tries to convince them that it is an institution expires, and anti-democratic, believing to find in it a Trojan horse from which to begin the dismantling of democracy. Even Paul’s Churches recognize that it is key to define the democratic character of a political regime is not the head of State is elective or not, but that actually guarantee the freedoms. You have all the reason. And adds more reason: But the democratic quality of a political system itself can be measured. The problem is that has not bothered to do so, no doubt does not cloud his republicanism. I invite you to do so.

Indeed, according to the research department of The Economist, there are only 19 democracies full democracies) in the world, on a total of something less than 200 countries, less than 10%. Well, in that list is not listed neither the united States nor France, the two great republics. But yes they are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and, by the way, Spain (place 19, we were in the top 25 recently). No less that seven of the eight Monarchies parliamentary are among the top twenty democracies in the world (the other parliamentary Monarchy, Japan is 20, but it is already democracy, “imperfect”, like the united States (place 21) or France (place 24)).

After analyzing similar data, Freedom House (another think tank that annually reports on the state of democracy in the world) concluded that it is more likely that a political system is free if it is monarchic that if it is republican; and if the scheme is free, it will be of higher quality if it is monarchic that if is a republican.

“most of the best democracies in the world are Monarchies”

Search for other quality indicator of the countries, this more comprehensive and general, as is the Human Development Index of the United Nations, which treats variables such as health, education, equality for women and other. And again in the top twenty positions are repeated, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan and Luxembourg. Belgium is the 22nd and Spain occupies the 27th place. Data confirmed by another quality index, the Social Progress Index (endorsed by Michael E. Porter of Harvard University, and Hernando de Soto) in the first ten places include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Japan, Belgium and Spain appear in the second decade. And I could go on.

So who think still that Monarchy and democracy are incompatible to tell us on what data is supported as most of the best democracies in the world are Monarchies. And who keep thinking that the Monarchy has little to do with modernity and is an antique from another time would do well also to revise his opinion: not only is it compatible, is that many are at the forefront of modernity and economic efficiency, and social.

Manuel Fraga conversa con Alfonso Osorio y el presidente del Gobierno, Adolfo Suárez
Manuel Fraga talks with Alfonso Osorio and the president of the Government, Adolfo Suárez – EFE

What a coincidence? Of course not. The hereditary character of the head of State, exactly what he criticizes the Monarchy, just as, counter-intuitively (what says Freedom House), a positive factor that compensates for deficits almost unavoidable in democracies republican. A King represents the whole nation and not a part or party. And represents it both in space (at all) as in the time. An anecdote that is a category: when Juan Carlos I came to Costa Rica in 1977, the then president Daniel Oduber, received him with these words: Lord, five hundred years ago that we were all expecting the visit of the King of Spain. That hardly would have been able to say of a republican president. A King also provides a long-term vision that compensates for the short-termism that the alternations election imposed on the democracies. Finally, a King prints a tone of continuity and tradition that allows and facilitates that all change without seeming to change substantially. The spaniards know this well because if we were able to pass “the law” the law was the continuity that was granted by the Crown.

It’s easier for a Constitution to last if it is democratic. And this democracy will be of higher quality if it is crowned. As I said Juan José Linz, scholars of democratization would do well to think more about the Monarchy. Make No mistake: the defense of the Spanish democracy is happening now, without a doubt, for the defence of the parliamentary Monarchy, and those who attack this are not in it for the virtues of a fictitious republic (that would be a third failure), but because they believe they have found the best way for their destruction. Constitution, democracy and restoration have gone hand in hand in our history and are variables that play together. And for this reason it misses (it take much less) a more vigorous defense of the institution from the parties, constitutionalists, and, especially, of those who govern. Let us make a case to the 99% of the spaniards: the Monarchy is not a problem, but yes it would be their destruction, the first step for settling the Constitution and democracy.

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