Behind the colorless façade of Mariano Rajoy, our present government is one of the most ideological in recent memory. Always wearing a certain vague air of disdain, the prime minister is leading a reform movement that, instead of favoring the redistribution of power, is concentrating it, often to levels like those of Franco's time. What José María Aznar and Esperanza Aguirre proclaim aloud, Rajoy is effecting in silence, not even deigning to resort to populism to dazzle the public.
Here are a few points of the general regression now under way. Elitism: legislative action aimed at strengthening the privileges of those who have most, and of traditional influence groups. The preferred catchword is meritocracy (though no one has told me just where the merit is). Those who have least are subjected to tests of excellence that no one demands of those who have most. The philosophy behind the Wert Law, expressed by Education Minister Wert himself in an immortal phrase, "those who can't get a 6.5, had better leave off studying," is a synthesis of the arrogance of these neoliberals who speak of liberty but are methodically interventionist whenever their interests are concerned. They despise the state, but use it to mold people to their measure. What sort of government decides who is to study and who isn't?
If the Wert law is a symbol of this elitism, the massive privatization of basic services, to the profit of friends of the party, as in the Madrid region, typifies the caste culture that is corrupting Spanish democracy. This is the pork-barrel reflex of an elite who forget that the country is made up of citizens: they only see consumers and producers. One watches the parade of Gürtel and Bárcenas, and abandons all hope of justice, because the government sees to it that these cases will peter out in the labyrinth of the courts. A government's duty is to clarify the corruption cases that affect it, and not to mire the process in technicalities. The public has a right to know what happened. In the culture of irresponsibility, nobody sees a reason for resigning. There are outrageous cases of dysfunction, as in the report on the phony properties of the Infanta, yet nobody is blamed, much less resigns. Where impunity reigns, so does suspicion.
One watches the parade of the Gürtel and Bárcenas cases, and abandons all hope of justice
Who can be surprised that the "reform" of the justice system is aimed at more government control over the judiciary? And that the new appointments to the Constitutional Court are made on brazenly partisan criteria, appointing judges who have no merit other than faithful service to the party? The politicization of justice is lethal to democracy.
And the PP is operating on two fronts, forcing the Constitutional and even the Supreme Court to make decisions that ought to be purely parliamentary, while it busily packs both courts with its adherents.
Needless to say, the Catholic Church hovers in the background, as it always does when this country takes a step backward, demanding that children study religion in school, assuming the right to decide for citizens on matters such as abortion and homosexual marriage. And the government gives it what it wants. Such are our country's "liberals," who have yet to assimilate secular culture.
Lastly the reform of the public administration is a leap into the dark, to shirk a more arduous problem: the breakdown of the regional government system. It is an exercise in fiction, seeking recentralization, while at the same time laying the stigma of waste on the regions. Another contribution to the head-on train crash between Catalonia and Spain.
Elitism, inequality, impunity, irresponsibility, politicization of the courts, slanted privatizations, return of the bishops, recentralization - these are the points of the PP's "reform." Warning to the opposition: some kinds of consensus can kill.