Diego Sánchez de la Cruz is a business consultant, university professor and journalist. He serves as CEO of Foro Regulación Inteligente, Head of Research at Instituto Juan de Mariana and International Researcher at Instituto de Estudios Económicos.
Spanish democracy is facing one of its darkest hours. A few days ago Alejo Vidal Quadras, a key intellectual figure in conservative politics who once served as head of the Popular Party in Catalonia and later became one of the founders of Vox, was shot in the face in a horrible terrorist assault that almost took his life.
Meanwhile, on 12 November, millions of Spaniards took to the streets to participate in massive demonstrations and protests against Pedro Sánchez, socialist prime minister, who is taking the country in a worrying authoritarian direction and threatens to lead Spain away from the democratic system that the country has successfully cultivated for almost half a century now.
Despite his defeat in the 2016 general election, Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party, ascended to the role of prime minister in 2018 through a coalition involving the Socialist Party and a diverse array of political entities. This alliance included an open collaboration with Podemos, a communist faction whose leadership has received financial backing from the authoritarian regimes of Venezuela and Iran.
Equally troubling was his alignment with various separatist parties which actively work towards the dissolution of Spain as a nation. Perhaps most unsettling of all was his pact with EH Bildu, a far-left party with ties to basque terrorist group ETA, accountable for over 1,000 murders.
Sánchez’s catastrophic handling of the economy earned him the dubious distinction of turning Spain into the OECD country that suffered the steepest erosion of purchasing power between 2019 and 2022. Meanwhile, his style of governance has been marked by a series of actions which cast doubt upon his commitment to the key principles of liberal democracy and the rule of law.
Unilaterally asserting extraordinary powers through the declaration of a state of emergency that was later deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, Sánchez froze parliamentary activity for months. He has also violated the Transparency Law on more than a thousand occasions, denying access to vital information to journalists, citizens, and opposition parties.
More than 150 decrees have been issued by the Executive, in order to circumvent scrutiny of government decisions, whilst public institutions have been politized to the point that bodies such as the National Statistics Institute, the National Intelligence Centre, or the Sociological Research Centre are now de facto working to cement the Socialist Party’s grip on power.
Moreover, the Executive has escalated government propaganda spending by an astonishing 500 per cent while openly attacked leading companies and business figures. Most critically, Sánchez interfered with the judiciary, abolishing the crime of sedition, reducing the legal consequences of corruption and embezzlement cases, and impeding the independent renewal of judicial bodies.
Sánchez is destabilising Spain. This is evidenced by the fact that the country has had gone through general elections in a mere four years. In the latest of these, Sánchez emerged as the loser.
Voters clearly favoured a new centre-right government led by Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the Popular Party (PP). The conservative leader earned 137 seats in Parliament and was able to earn support from right-wing group VOX (33 seats) as well as two more representatives from two regional parties (UPN from Navarra and CC from the Canary Islands).
However, this alliance fell four seats short of a earning parliamentary majority in a chamber that hosts a total of 350 deputies.
Sánchez and his Socialist Party (121 seats) have opted to renew their alliance with communist group Podemos, now known as Sumar (31 seats), as well as with separatist groups from Catalonia, the Basque Country, and Galicia; the political descendants of terrorists are also on board. Together, they all have 179 votes.
Also, it is important to point out that PP has an absolute majority in the Senate (144 out of 264 seats) and will govern 14 of 17 regions, as well as seven of the ten largest cities in the country. However, none of this seems to be a problem for Sánchez. Despite steering the Socialist Party to its worst electoral results, the Prime Minister’s political calculus is very clear and apparent: if he can remain in power by striking a deal with the Devil, he surely will.
On the economic front, the agreement that Sánchez has closed with his allies entails truly appalling measures, including dozens of tax increases that need to be factored in on top of the 54 tax hikes previously approved during Sánchez’s tenure. Regulatory aspects are equally disconcerting, with discussions of a potential ban on domestic flights citing the “climate emergency” as a clear example of an unstoppable drive for government intervention in all areas of life.
Most troubling, however, are the agreements struck by Sánchez with Catalan separatists, particularly the pact negotiated with the fugitive Catalan independence politician, Carlos Puigdemont.
Sánchez has already pardoned those convicted in the aftermath of the illegal 2017 separation referendum, but he has also agreed to passing an Amnesty Law which will erase all legal consequences from such act. The Amnesty Law also aims to put the justice system under political control by establishing a parliamentary commission that will be capable of halting legal processes that are deemed as lawfare by the socialists and their partners.
Moreover, Sánchez plans to extend the coverage of this Amnesty Law to those convicted of terrorism, erasing the crimes of activists associated with organizations like CDR or TD, which have perpetrated atrocious acts of violence in recent years. Additionally, the Amnesty Law will expunge the records of separatist politicians convicted of corruption.
In addition to all of this, Sánchez has announced that the central government will absorb €15 billion of Catalonia’s regional debt. Such obligations had previously been bailed out by taxpayers nationwide and will now fall upon the shoulders of citizens across the country. Unsurprisingly, these concessions may secure Sánchez’s re-election but do little to quell separatist ambitions, as Puigdemont and his allies have already hinted at preparations for a new referendum.
Sánchez’s insatiable hunger for power is exacting a toll on all Spanish citizens, who witness daily the subjugation of democratic institutions, political rights, and economic productivity to the personal ambitions of an autocratic prime minister. The international community must turn away from Sánchez and rally behind those championing freedom and Spanish democracy.