If common sense is reason instructed by events, then Mariano Rajoy is short on events - that is, on experience. He had sufficiently good reasons for setting the deficit ceiling as he saw fit, but did not wish to take into account that after announcing it he would be unable to defend his position - which he particularly presented as an act of sovereignty - when Brussels said no.
It was a neophyte's miscalculation to think the EU would swallow it, ignoring the fact that the technocrats of Brussels make a practice of showing that they are above the sovereignty of states. So has Rajoy made a fool of himself? Well, at least he has taken a cold shower of realism: not a pleasant one, to judge by the disdain with which he treated the opposition in explaining it.
Why has the PP been acting so arrogantly since its return to power? Why does Rajoy weekly introduce some measure that flatly contradicts his campaign promises, and with absolute impunity? Why has he ceased to be predictable (a great virtue, he says) to now behave as if he could do anything?
This passage from quiet bookworm figure to authoritarian boss is easily attributed to the loss of the sense of reality so often generated by clear parliamentary majorities. Few can resist the temptations of absolute power. And Rajoy has in his hands not only the power of the central government, but practically all of the country's regional and municipal administrations. Even where he is not in control, as in Catalonia, he can impose conditions on those who are.
I do not think, however, that the parliamentary majority explains everything. I think it has much to do with ideology, and with impotence. Unpredictable in concrete measures, Rajoy is perfectly predictable in strategy.
Tzvetan Todorov says that "the neoliberal tyranny conceives the economy as an activity entirely separate from social matters, which must be free of political control." And insofar as Rajoy, along with all of the European right and much of the left, accepts this premise, authoritarianism is a manner of dramatizing an authority over economic power that he does not have or wish to have.
Rajoy is at once a prisoner of this belief - "there is no alternative" - and of the impotence deriving from it. This is the drama of the present situation, which threatens democracy itself. If you accept, as Rajoy does, out of ideological conviction (or out of realism, a preferred value of the right, always fearful of the invention of the future) that "there is no alternative," then parliamentary life is pure comedy. The other parties can only be asked to assent to the policies you have decreed, these being the only ones possible.
Given that the Socialist Party has partaken of this post-democratic belief, it has no other role in mind for the government, having behaved this way itself after May 2010.
Without the possibility of political or ideological alternatives, the degradation of the democratic system is inevitable. A degradation that begins with the incapacity of politics to regulate and control the economic powers. When you know yourself to be impotent (though approving the present course of things) to exert a power you do not possess, you put on the boots of authoritarianism.
We are looking at a profound change in the model of society, which consolidates the hegemony of the economy (and of private interest) over politics. All the norms that make up the "no alternative" program point this way. Yet there has been no debate on the social model we want. What is the opposition waiting for? If now, when it is flat on the ground and is in need of reinventing itself from the ground up, it is not capable of initiating such a debate, when will it do so? Or is it the case that, in this area too, there is no alternative? The post-democratic era has begun.