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It’s up to all of us

The Catalan crisis should serve to make Spain improve its highly-respected democracy

Our democracy is living through eventful times. The disloyalty of the Catalan authorities towards the Spanish Constitution and the system of coexistence outlined by that document have forced the central government in Madrid, with the help of the chief political forces in the country, to propose an intervention as dramatic as it is unprecedented in our recent democratic experience.

Although the measures are essential given the direction in which events have headed, the dismissal of the Catalan government and the dissolution of the Catalan parliament are not measures any democracy can carry out with pleasure; they not only reflect the profound nature of the crisis but also the difficulty in emerging from it in a positive manner.

Our democracy is far from being perfect. None is.

Therefore, in the same way that we can now look back and contemplate with pride the way in which Spain’s democracy successfully resolved the crisis created by the coup d’état of 1981 and emerged more united and more democratic, today we must start working to ensure that the application of Article 155 will be seen in future as the first milestone in a process of reshaping the model of existence, the loyalties and the joint project that Spaniards agreed upon in 1978.

Many Spanish citizens, proud of living in peace and freedom in a Spain that is plural, generous and tolerant, feel a deep concern at seeing the Constitution of 1978 called into question and abused by those who – both within and outside of Spain and Catalonia – confuse, in their own interests, the legitimate right to defend democratic institutions with the restoration of that authoritarianism that was responsible for so many ills in Spain.

We know that their criticisms are false, and that, deep down, they hide beliefs that are not exactly democratic or are only half-way democratic. There is no doubt that time will bring to light and put in its place the cynicism and the duplicity of those who have absolutely no belief in the Constitution or in self-government, and who present themselves as the moral guardians of the democratic values and principles that they actually want to destroy.

Thanks to the success of the Transition, Spanish democracy has enjoyed the appreciation and respect of millions of people around the world

Our democracy is far from being perfect. None is. All democracies that warrant the name find themselves subject to pressure, whether it comes from nationalism, populism or extreme radicalism or xenophobia. All represent its end.

Thanks to the success of the Transition, Spanish democracy has enjoyed the appreciation and respect of millions of people around the world. Alongside its economic successes, democracy defeated coup leaders and terrorism, and created room for freedoms, civil liberties and economic and social well-being that are without comparison in Spanish history.

The crown, first under Juan Carlos I and now under Felipe VI, has been the best international symbol of this new, free, open, plural and tolerant Spain. Thanks to this, being Spanish has meant getting doors opened and enjoying a sympathetic welcome from hosts all around the world.

Our democracy, with all of its imperfections, must be defended and made stronger and better. It’s up to all of us.

English version by George Mills.

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