2011

Havel was not an illusion

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought about great hope, much energy but also some disappointments. Although perhaps some did not take full advantage of it, the end of the Old Continent’s central and eastern Communist dictatorships was a joyous moment in which Europeans were able to reunite with one another. From the other side of the old Iron Curtain started to arrive movements, figures and words which, had we paid more attention to them, could have enlivened Western democracies (old ones like the French or the British and new ones like ours). From all …  

Categories Articles, Politics

A Europe made less of plastic?

After last Friday’s summit in Brussels, Nicolas Sarkozy stated that, despite the important new agreements on the eurozone along a theme which could be considered more confederal, there will not be a further transfer of sovereignty from states to the institutions within the European Union; instead we will witness “a shared exercise of sovereignty by democratically-elected governments”. The French president hurriedly clarified this issue and reiterated: “We strengthen our sovereignty and our independence by exercising it with our friends, our allies and our partners”. Despite being in the early 21st century, state sovereignty is still …  

Categories Articles, Politics

The bones of the tyrant

There is no way out. Whether we like it or not, we live amongst the dead. One might think that the severe economic and social crisis somehow manages to hide the rest of the issues around us. But this is not true. Who cares about General Franco’s bones? The immediate answer is straightforward: nobody, except his family and a couple of regime nostalgics. But this is a deceitful and merely palliative answer. We must be more careful in our reply: the remains of a dictator who left a deep mark on our recent history are …  

Categories Articles, Politics

Barcelona, an impossible debate on ideas

I believe, as Daniel Innerarity has written, that facts are what give credit to ideas and not the other way round. And I also believe, as Raymond Aron reminds us, that experience shows that we have to judge people for what they do and not what they say. Politics, in the final instance, is action. Action supported on certain principles and linked to various conflicting interests. And the city, as the highest expression of politics and as the setting for it, is the product of many decisions laid down over time, and also the result …  

Categories Articles, Culture and communication

Rajoy: back to 1979

At a recent dinner party with journalists from Barcelona with a common interest in public affairs, somebody asked me how I thought Mariano Rajoy was going to rule. After all, we know little more of him than his heavy silences. Taking all necessary precautions and without trying to act as a futurologist, I replied that as a president the leader of the People’s Party will work hard not to resemble president Zapatero in the slightest and, above all, will try and  make sure nobody mistakes him for president Aznar – the man who appointed him. …  

Categories Articles, Politics

Democracy with memory

Last Thursday 20th October, shortly after ETA announced its definitive cessation of its terrorist activities, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero gave one of the best considered and best delivered speeches of his erratic career as country leader. He made the following statement: “Our democracy will be a democracy without terrorism, but not without memory. We will always remember the victims – the 829 fatalities -, their families and so many injured who have suffered the unfair and despicable blow of terror. And so will the future generations in Spain”. This is a fundamental point of the …  

Categories Articles, Politics