Interview at Radio Internacional | “It is necessary to defend those ideas upon which the Transition was based”

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December 19 2018

The former president of the Government and president of FAES, José María Aznar, has given an interview to the program “La Alacena Global” of Radio Internacional, presented by José Barros, on the occasion of the publication of his latest book, El futuro es hoy (“Today is the future”).

In your new book, El futuro es hoy, you analyse how a novel world is being born, fruit of the increasingly intense advance of Globalization. In relation to these changes, not a few analysts point out that we would be facing nothing less than the end of liberalism, the emergence of a post-liberal world. Therefore, is liberalism still relevant?

In the 1930s, if someone had made a bet on the future of liberal regimes, it would have been a very risky bet, because it seemed that they were going to end or that they were going to be practically reduced to a minimum. It was the expansion of movements such as Fascism, Communism, Nazism... However, after the Second World War the expansion of the liberal order has been the dominant feature of the world.

Today the question is that the liberal order is being challenged; it is under threat. Many people have thought that the liberal order was guaranteed, probably because it is the only thing they have lived in their lives, but the liberal order is not guaranteed and has to be guaranteed on a daily basis. Today the liberal order is threatened by the new totalitarianisms, by authoritarianisms, by illiberal democracies, by populisms, by the return to nationalisms... All these are challenges to the liberal order and it is one of the most critical moments after the Second World War from the historical point of view.

In your book, you also state that Spain's historical continuity is in danger. If so, what is the main threat to this continuity and what do you think should be done to curb this danger?

If the liberal order is not guaranteed, neither is the existence of nations. Look at how many nations existed in Europe before the First World War and how many afterwards. Or how many existed before and after the Second World War... The number of nations can vary, and nations can be broken historically.

Spain is experiencing a coup d'état. Really, we are facing a coup d'état. It has not been dismantled and it is a coup d'état that tries to destroy the historical continuity of Spain and the Spanish nation. I believe that this is not going to succeed. and that Spain's historical continuity will be guaranteed, but we have to guarantee it; and I am not sure that everything necessary is being done at the moment to guarantee it. What is more, I am sure it is not being done.

You dedicate a chapter of El futuro es hoy to analyse the magical narrative of nationalism. Does the centre-right need a new narrative to tackle current problems? In other words: with Vox on the right and Ciudadanos in the centre, what should be the proposals that define the identity signs of the PP?

What nationalism needs is myths. Nationalism lives on myths and external enemies, and lives on recreating historical situations that have never existed. From an idyllic past that never existed or from a supposedly historical reality that is a pure invention. And all this serves to manipulate and deceive many people.

What the PP needs is not to recreate false myths. What the PP needs is to be itself, to reaffirm itself, to become that party in which to identify its fundamental principles. Now it has four fundamental tasks: first, to reconstitute itself internally from an organizational point of view; second, to arm itself from an ideological point of view, to become credible and identifiable again for the people; third, to exercise a very active opposition task before a government that deserves to be replaced as soon as possible and, finally, to propose a very solid Spanish project for the future. That is the task of the PP. If the PP reasonably carries out these tasks, I am convinced that it will again have the confidence of the citizens.

With regards to this ideological reformulation that you comment on, matters such as bullfighting and hunting have entered the political debate, which until recently were not topics that one would talk about. Could it be due to the fact that certain voters have felt that their cultural, sentimental and vital plot is being attacked by the cultural and political left?

Yes, evidently there is an expression in all societies of that which is called political correctness, which tries to push off the field all those who think differently, or even criminalize the taste and hobbies for some things. I think there are a lot of people who may feel neglected by that.

I believe that one of the problems of parties in Spain, and outside Spain, as well -and we have been seeing this now, in the Andalusian elections- is when a party becomes an objective in itself. And a party becomes an objective in itself when its political leaders do not have a project, but simply live in politics to be in politics and get away from the people. And that's why they practice things that they think may have some echo, but they move away from the deep and real feelings of the people. That's a very wrong thing to do; and that has also happened to the PP.

The PP became a kind of objective in itself and did not have a clear project, but simply wanted to be without objectives, and that's a problem... This has happened to the Popular Party and the Socialist Party, to the classic parties all over the world; it's not just something that affects Spain.

Speaking about exhausted projects, one that is quite consumed is the current legislature. Even so, Mr Sánchez seems determined to extend it as long as possible. Personally, when do you think the President of the Government will call the next general elections?

I do not know, but I would like it to be as soon as possible, because the truth is that the judgement that can be made of this government is that it is a government which is deeply damaging to Spain, seriously damaging to Spain's interests, and it is a minority government, supported by secessionist, pro-independence, separatist forces and extreme left-wing radicals... The truth is that the sooner we overcome this situation, the better.

Until a few years ago, the PP was the only party that represented the whole of the Spanish centre-right. Now there are 3 political forces fighting for that space. Are we heading towards a kind of refoundation of the centre-right after the next general elections?

I believe that in historical terms there has been a leap back 30 years which is very damaging. Before, when all which was to the right of the left was united, this was an expression of very great strength and a combination of very great possibilities for the Popular Party itself.

I believe that fragmentation today, in political life, is not only a component of Spanish political life, but of life in general. Fragmentation is one of the characteristics of all societies: political, social, cultural, media fragmentation, etc. We live in the world of fragmentation, and in the case of politics that should lead you to try to limit it, or try to reach fundamental agreements between the political forces that occupy a space that used to be unique. And that, in some way, means trying to understand and refound that centre-right space that used to be in one hand. I hope and wish that the new leadership of Pablo Casado's PP will be the expression of that refoundational leadership the centre-right needs for the good of Spain.

Despite fragmentation, in Andalusia the sum of the three political forces of the right has won the elections. Could a similar scenario be extrapolated to the whole of Spain in a general election?

I believe that these forces are destined to compete with each other, fundamentally. If from the result of that competition the possibilities of understanding then arise, they must do so. If the two-party system wants to be replaced, it will have to be replaced by the ability to agree, because otherwise the country will become ungovernable.

I believe that right now these forces are condemned to compete and let's see who has the priority... In Andalusia the PP has had the primacy and, therefore, it is logical that it is the one who has the initiative in the attempts to form a government and to act in Andalusia, which is a good thing.

Do you think that we could be facing the beginning of a social turn that would be -despite the fragmentation of the political forces- towards a more right-wing Spain?

I believe that, in general terms, the world is moving towards more radical positions.

Left or right?

Left and right. Europe is moving towards more radical right-wing positions, in general terms. And that, personally, I'm going to tell you that I don't like it. I believe that those of us who defend the liberal order, those of us who defend centred and ordered spaces and those of us who have political experience -as we have demonstrated in government actions- believe that strong and centred parties are those that best serve societies, and I would like that to be recovered.

Strong and focused parties are those who can best understand the necessity to defend the liberal order, which I believe essential to be defended in today's world. I hope and wish that this trend towards radicalism will simply be a reversible trend. But, in order to reverse it, the central parties have to act very decisively.

Centrality is not the opposite of conviction, seriousness, responsibility, courage or commitment. On the contrary, it is its expression and must be its expression.

What, if you can tell me, will you contribute to the PP national convention next January?

Well, it's not that I can't tell you, it's that I don't know. If they ask me for something, then I will gladly do it, as long as it is within my possibilities, and if they do not ask me for anything, I will be perfectly fine.

One last question, do you think it will be possible to recover in the near future the spirit of consensus and harmony that characterized the Transition?

I believe we must not lose sight of the lessons of history and the values of the Transition. Such consensus at this time is not possible, because the actors who forged that consensus -fundamentally the left- are not willing to do so now; they are involved in other matters.

Today, the parties defending constitutional ideals are concentrated in the centre-right. Unfortunately, the Socialist Party, which was one of the pillars of the constitutional order, has allied itself with the secessionist parties, thus ceasing to be a constitutional pillar, and that is a very serious problem when forging any consensus. Now there is no such consensus. What is needed is to defend the ideas; the ideas upon which the Transition was based. And that can certainly be done.

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