The old suit, by Joan Tapia

This week has been the 43rd anniversary of the Constitution of 1978. It was almost a miracle that broad consensus, which brought together parties that in part came from the Franco regime (AP and the UCD), the republican PSOE, the PCE and the Catalan nationalists. And even the abstention of the PNV. The heirs of the two sides of the civil war and the politicians of the dictatorship and the democratic opposition agreed on a Consensus constitution after having agreed – at the request of the left – an amnesty for the events of the past.

It was unprecedented. But it was less a miracle than the logical consequence that, after Franco died, the vast majority of Spaniards prioritized entering Europe to have a stable democracy and more social progress. The sensible Francoists could have no other viable project than to bury the past and immerse themselves in Europe. And a European democracy was what the left – and even the disenchanted PCE of the USSR – demanded, while Franco made and unmade. It is true that a sector of the AP (Federico Silva and the then young Aznar) did not vote for the Constitution, but they were the exception.

Ivan RedondoQuoting Thomas Jefferson, he has written that every Constitution must be changed every 19 years, but the American has 232 and, yes, he has added a score of amendments. And our Constitution could use some substantial reforms very well. But this requires work before a preliminary agreement on the appropriate amendments. In order to change a Constitution that has lasted a long time and that has worked – it has allowed political alternation and great economic and social progress – consensus is morally very convenient, which is also legally essential. Without consensus, there will be no majority to reform it.

Because Aitor Esteban, PNV spokesman, has said that today he would not vote for it either, but that he respects it, despite a drift that he considers regressive, and that trying to reform it now is a chimera. How to weave an agreement to change the Magna Carta if the two great parties are unable to agree on such essential and necessary things as renew the governing body of judges or take action against the threat of the pandemic?

Without, from the outset, some minimum points of agreement between the two major parties, the proposed reforms may be very interesting (or mere propaganda), but they will not have any viability.

A minimal thaw between Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Casado would be a necessary condition, although not sufficient, to advance in this area

Jaume Asens, spokesman for Podemos, has underestimated it, saying that the Constitution is already an old suit. Yes, he is 43 years old, but you cannot change your suit if you lack the necessary funds (the consensus) to pay for a new one. OR revolutionary force to bring down the system. And today there is, unfortunately, the first. Not even less the second. So let’s continue with the old suit and explore (looking for more agreements than cheering for particular ideologies) the changes that would be most urgent.

Julian Casanova recalled that the 9th was also the 90th anniversary of the Constitution of 1931. It has gone unnoticed, perhaps because that ended badly. But the Constitution of 31, which raised great hopes, had sectarian articles far removed from the consensus of that of 78. How else, think what you think of the private school, qualify the prohibition of teaching to religious orders? And that was the germ – long before the military coup of 36 – of serious errors such as the moral prohibition of the CEDA, with 115 deputies out of 453, from entering the Government of the Republic. And of the subsequent revolt.

The danger today is that the Constitution is wearing thin by reappear behaviors reminiscent of the 1930s. How to judge the repeated refusal of the PP to renew the judiciary, without first changing its mode of election and without having a majority for it? Or the rejection of principle that Podemos has ministers, which is reminiscent of the one on the left of the Republic before Gil Robles. And even the PSOE is wrong when it ‘tides’ with the amnesty law, which was the foundation of the Transition.

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The Constitution must be improved. But it is a necessary condition, although certainly not enough, a minimum thaw between the PP and the PSOE that neither is nor is expected. So we are going to have to keep wearing the old suit. And we don’t take care of it.

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