Spanish right playing with fire? (Madrid March 10th 2007)
I don't know if the turnout was 2,000,000 as the organisers claim, or 342,655, according to the authorities. I don't really care. But for the opposition to play the demonstration game (as the PP have done over and over again since losing the 14 March 2004 election... to demand that the thousands of Catalan documents still retained in Salamanca not be returned to their rightful owners; to have the new Catalan regional constitution ("Statute of Autonomy") rejected by the Spanish parliament; or now, to object to an ETA killer on hunger strike, after serving his full sentence in gaol, being transferred to house arrest after fulfilling in gaol part of a further 3-year sentence - cut back from 12 years! - for the contents of two articles he published) for the opposition to play the demonstration game is to play with fire.
These monumental rallies remind me of the Nuremburg rallies the Nazis used to hold in the 1930s. And without leaving that period, elderly people in Catalonia remember well the climate that was fanned in the months leading up to Franco's coup d'état and the Spanish civil war (1936-1939).
The Croatian wife of the friend of a colleague of mine says she also recalls the build-up to the Balkan war in the 1990s, with the media in the capital spreading slander and lies, and distorting facts, and thus flattening the road for a level of violence we Europeans should be ashamed of.
Spain, too, has its hate media. One particular radio station has a couple of programmes that, according to a Dutch journalist, come so close to hate radio that he thinks the station would have been closed down in other parts of western Europe. I'm mentioning no names for reasons the reader can guess. And a couple of books have brought together plenty of quotes of this kind, mainly from this rado station... I could give you the title and author if you like...
Anyway, I for one hope that the Spanish Conservative party (PP) will eventually learn from its predecessor which, when it was in opposition, was at least publicly loyal and supportive to the government in its ETA policy, even if it probably didn't entirely agree with it. That may not win them as many votes, okay, but it won't bring Spain to the brink of an unbridgeable (and perhaps violent) divide, either.