Wednesday, 31 August 2016

'Anarchy' = Absence of government in Spain?

THE word 'anarchy' in its dictionary definition is often defined as 'an absence of government'.  Though pedantic thinkers, including anarchists, will often rely on narrow dictionary definitions of the meaning of words, modern philosophers like Ludwig Wittgenstein have discredited this approach to the pursuit of meaning.  Those of us come from a Wittgensteinian or ethnomethodological tradition consider the meaning of a word to be in its use.
Ironically the reality of the present situation in Spain is that for the first time since January 1492, when Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon – the Catholic monarchs – occupied Granada completing their conquest of Moorish Spain, Spain has always had a government.  Even at the time of the Spanish Civil War in 1936-37 when the Spanish anarchists were at their strongest, their was a government in Spain (actual there were two if we count the Nationalist one and even the anarchists ultimately accepted the invite to join the governments in Madrid and Barcelona).
And yet, since December 20th, last year., when the elections failed to give any party a necessary majority to form a government and attempts to form a coalition failed, Spain has had no effective government.   Under the Spanish system a Spaniard votes for 'diputados' (MPs) who elect the prime minister.  Then with a parliamentary majority, the winning party proclaims its leader, but without a majority, the parties need to negotiate.  This means a voter may end up supporting positions he/ or she would not normally support.  Today voting for the Socialist Party may mean a leftist coalition if the Socialists join with the Podemos Party, or a vote for the centre-right may involve voting for the conservative Popular Party (PP) and then get an alliance of the PP and the Ciudadnos Party.  It offers a blank cheque to the parliamentary parties, but even then the Spanish parties have not been able to get any agreement.  
Because of this failure to get agreement a second election had to be called on June 26th, which ended in a very similar result to the one last December.  For more than 250 days Spain has been unable to elect a government. 
As things stand a 'caretaker' government is in place: the Partido Popular.  But it can't appoint new ministers, and from its original 13-member cabinet, only 10 are left.  The caretaker government has no authority to approve next year's budget, a basic tool of government and which should be in place by October; as you read this experts in constitutional law are pouring over the legal texts to search for a line that suggests authority in the current situation.  It has been nine months since the government enacted any laws:  its members are too busy campaigning and negotiating. 
Martin Caparrós, a journalist on the New York Times writes:
'These days, the “meanwhile” government manages everyday matters, and not very well.  In a situation that lacks legal status, no one wants to be in charge of important decisions, affairs are delayed and decisions never made...'
The life of ordinary people continues much as always, and Seňor Caparrós continues:
'In everyday life, a country without a government looks dangerously similar to one with one. ...  There are those who wonder if governments are so necessary and seem uninterested in any attempt to form one.'
This week, Mariano Rajoy of the PP will try to be reinstated as qa fully functioning prime minister.  But his option are limited.  If he fails, his party will probably call for new elections to be held on the 25th, December.  If so that should give a boost to any latent anarchism in Spain, because Seňor Ranjoy and his party will be hoping the by calling an election during Navidad will benefit the right with a low turnout, but it will merely deliver a death blow to any vain expectations in elections whatever the outcome.  Especially since the Spaniards have a long history of distrust of governments.

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