Saturday, May 28

An ambiguous dividing line

1931 has been the only time that Spain has experienced a genuine constituent process. It was possible due to the implosion of the political system of the Restoration, unable to launch a program of reforms, which would allow the transition from the Constitutional Monarchy to the Parliamentary Monarchy. Although in the first two decades of the 20th century the reform of the Constitution, with the aim of placing the center of gravity of the political system in Parliament, was present on the political agenda, it was not formalized as a bill for constitutional reform. no proposal. The result was that a relatively subordinate manifestation of universal suffrage, such as municipal elections, produced a regime change. Spain went to bed monarchist and woke up republican.

On April 14, he buried the Spanish Monarchy, which is what the Monarchy of the 19th century was called in our country. From the moment that an indisputable democratic experience began, the return to what was the “Old Monarchical-Constitutional Regime” was impossible. In this, the Second Republic clearly differed from the previous great modernizing experience: the Revolutionary Sexenio. The Restoration of the Bourbon dynasty made its way with relative ease after the failure of the monarchical experience of Amadeo de Saboya and the First Republic. That would not be possible after April 14, 1931.

April 14, 1931 symbolizes democracy. Once that threshold is reached, there is no going back, no going back to a pre-democratic society. Anti-democratic political formulas can be imposed, even rabidly anti-democratic, but it is not possible to return to the pre-democratic universe to which the Spanish Monarchy belonged.

The closest thing to the dividing line of April 14 is the dividing line of May 2, 1808. The latter marked the bankruptcy of the Absolute Monarchy. The first meant the bankruptcy of the Constitutional Monarchy. From the moment that national sovereignty makes an appearance in 1812 or popular sovereignty in 1931, we are in another world. With very strong mortgages from the past, but in another world.

Both dividing lines attempted to be brutally erased. Ferdinand VII’s reaction to the Cadiz Constitution is similar to Franco’s reaction to the Republican Constitution. In both cases, attempts were made to make them disappear, as if they had never existed. But the program for the future that each of them was the bearer of could not be completely erased from the horizon. It would be possible to delay it, lower it and condition it when it was impossible to prevent it from starting to make its way. But it was not possible to return to the previous past.

The way in which it was tried to condition the arrival of the Constitutional Monarchy after the death of Fernando VII and the parliamentary Monarchy after the death of Franco also has similarities. In the same way that the Royal Statute circumscribed the terrain of the future Spanish Monarchy, the Political Reform Law conditioned the disguise of the monarchical Restoration as a transition to democracy.

The way in which it was passed from Fernando VII to Isabel Segunda is similar to the way in which it was passed from General Franco to King Juan Carlos I of Borbón. And there are similarities between the conduct of the first constitutional Queen and the first parliamentary King.

The dirt accumulated during the different monarchical experiences comes to the surface from time to time, but continues to form part of the landscape. We were not able to do the sweep after April 14, 1931, and so we are still where we are.