The Spanish far right and the crisis in Cataluña

08 10 17

From Jordi Borràs in Barcelona

More than forty years after the death of fascist dictator General Franco much of international public opinion has believed that the Spanish extreme right was something only to be found in history books.

Although it is true that Spanish far right has been severely splintered since the beginning of the 1980s and virtually inactive in institutions – except for local and regional councils – it is impossible to understand this factor without analysing the role of Spain’s ruling party: the Partido Popular (PP-Popular Party).

The PP was co-founded by seven former ministers in Franco’s dictatorship along with other members of the fascist regime.

During the Spanish “democratic” transition, one of the obsessions of Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Franco’s former minister, founder of PP and honorary president of the party until he died in 2012, was precisely to make the PP an organisation capable of absorbing the extreme right vote.

This objective was definitely achieved. According to a study by the Centre d’Investigacions Sociològiques  – Sociological Research Centre – in 2011, 8 out of 10 people felt that the extreme right in Spain voted the PP in the last elections. Thus, despite being virtually absent in institutions with a public organisation of any significance and clearly identifiable as far right, it is able to affect the agenda of the conservative parties, functioning as a kind of “hidden hand”.

This fact cannot be understood without analysing how the so-called “Spanish Transition” was actually made and showing, inter alia, that none of the people responsible for the longest fascist dictatorship in the world (40 years) were ever tried for their crimes.

Apart from its near-total electoral eclipse, the far right panorama remains fragmented, divided and even confronted. However, the separatist process that emerged mainly from 2012 in Cataluña gave impetus to the creation of anti-separatist platforms that drove part of the wider Spanish right wing, a mixture of militants from parliamentary parties including self-appointed “Constitutionalists” of the PP, the socialist PSOE and the centre-right Citizen (Cs).

Despite this, the various far right organisations never abandoned their standard political response of the years after Franco’s death: taking to the streets.

The separatist process has served as a catalyst for the organisations of the extreme right in Spain which, at a time like now, with the unity of Spain threatened, have ignored their differences to put an interest aim above all, namely to prevent Cataluña becoming independent by any means

Thus, the Spanish extreme right is taking maximum advantage of the response that the parliamentary right is failing giving by avoiding battle on the street, limiting its action to the judiciary and parliamentary politics and manipulating its enormous influence on the majority of Spanish mass media and international political structures.

The various demonstrations that took place the day in which the referendum on independence was organised (1 October) were almost all headed or directly led by the extreme far right.

As a result, the political scenario that has opened with the separatist process is becoming a perfect breeding ground for a far right determined to control the mob response to the separatist aspirations of the Catalan people.

This may well result in a rapid and frightening escalation of tension by far right extremists already calling for direct action if the Spanish Government does not act as they are demanding; the imprisonment of the Catalan Government and the dismantling of Cataluña’s autonomous status.



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