_ “This offers the opportunity and the responsibility of political centrality to the Partido Popular”
_ Pasquino: “Where institutions are strong and the party system is representative and competitive, populism will not be successful”
_ Echeverría: “Libya is the testing ground for emerging terrorist actors and a transit area for human trafficking and insecurity will persist”
_ Corrales: “It is very possible that the Venezuelan regime ends up being more restrictive as a response to its political and economic crisis”
_ The edition will also include articles on Greece’s evolution since 2010, the Italian electoral reform and Obama’s shift towards the Pacific
The magazine Cuadernos de Pensamiento Político, edited by the FAES Foundation and directed by its Secretary-General, Javier Zarzalejos, publishes this month issue number 47. Its editorial note analyzes the political change resulting from the PSOE post-elections support for the populist left, which proves that this has been working for years in “the complete submission to the conceptual framework, the language and the agenda of radicalism”. “This offers the opportunity and the responsibility of political centrality to the Partido Popular”, it pointed out in the editorial. This issue includes articles on populism and its link with the weakness of institutions and parties by the professor of Political Science Gianfranco Pasquino, and also essays from professors like Antonis Kapsis about Syriza’s first months in the Greek Government and Ángel Rivero, who writes on the origins of the expression ‘assaulting Heaven’.
The magazine also includes an essay on to the Libyan State’s collapse by the professor Carlos Echeverría; a reflection from the security expert Ana Belén Perianes on the risk of the spreading of jihad throughout Europe in the wake of the return of European combatants to their own countries, and a review on the authoritarian drift undergone by Nicolás Maduro’s regime, by means of what Javier Corrales calls ‘autocratic legalism’.
The editorial note from issue 47 of Cuadernos argues that Spanish socialism has been working for years in the “complete submission to the conceptual framework, the language and the agenda of radicalism or, at least, to those of nationalism”. This, along with “the need to enhance an uncertain leadership”, has shown that the PSOE is “the opposite of a national party”, becoming “a factor of destabilization and uncertainty , of social and territorial centrifugation, of polarization and rupture”. “This offers the opportunity and the responsibility of political centrality to the Partido Popular, according to the editorial.
In this context, FAES notes that “ the PSOE has decided that the results of the May 24th elections must have the greatest possible impact in local and regional governments”. “A political change transcending social and electoral change” which, the editorial says, “will radiate a political substance outrightly unconstitutional, fresh in its sectarianism, relaxed in its lack of experience”, and which “raises legitimate questions regarding the idea that some people have of institutions”.
The editorial observes that “the intensity that the PSOE should apply in order to discredit both the PP and the common system in order to gather the radical vote would cause erosion in its electorate far greater than the one it suffered in 2008 and 2011, and which would probably be final”. It finally states that the May elections have shown that Spain “had neither safeguard nor guarantee protecting it from the worst scenarios”.
“Democracy means this, and in Spain we have true democracy. The vote is too important to be the subject of experimentation on the ideas of punishment, fear, or multilateral political operations”, it points out.
In ‘Populismo, instituciones y Unión Europea’, Gianfranco Pasquino explores the likelihood of populism finding its political way in the presidential republics, especially in European parliamentary democracies and in Latin America. “Populism will remain a challenge for all democracies, national and supranational. It is a parallel history to the history and evolution of the democracy that continues today” the emeritus professor of Political Science at the University of Bologna argues.
Pasquino believes that the institutional and the party system strength is the dividing line between success and failure of populist movements. “Where institutions are solid and legitimate, where parties are representative organizations and the party system is competitive, the challenge of populisms can affect the functioning of the political system, but it will not succeed”, he points out. And he adds: “In other places it might win, but thus far it has proved to be just a caricature of itself, unable to be institutionalized”.
The article also refutes the common populist critique of the alleged democratic deficit of the European Union, stating that “the European Parliament is elected by citizens of the Member States and the Council is composed by heads of government that have the support of the parliamentary majorities from their respective countries. And although the president of the Commission is not elected directly, but elected by the Council of the heads of government, since 2014 this body ought to nominate the candidate of the parliamentarian group which has got more seats”.
The professor of International Relations of UNED Carlos Echeverría analyses in ‘El desmoronamiento del Estado libio. Consecuencia de decisiones precipitadas en política exterior y de seguridad’ the situation of “growing chaos” in that country, which is “largely illustrated by the simultaneous existence of two Governments and two Parliaments”. The author starts from the country’s own idiosyncrasies, characterized by a “surrealist State model”. “A cluster of tribes, a small population, weak government structures and large foreign population attracted by the great country’s wealth was the situation in Libya in February 2011, when the general uprising took place”, he recalled.
Echeverría describes the process which, since then, has made Libya the testing ground of “emerging terrorist actors, with special attention to Islamic State, and a transit area for illicit trafficking, specially human trafficking”. Therefore, he regards “the present and future of Libya as a major question that makes even more difficult the job of those who from outside, with the UN as the leading body, seek ways of understanding between the greatest possible number of actors in order to achieve a peaceful process of normalization and stabilization”. Nevertheless, the severity of the situation “suggests that insecurity in the country will persist”, he points out.
Ana Belén Perianes, expert in security in the Mediterranean and in the Near and Middle East, offers a global outlook on jihadism and the risks it poses for Europe in her article ‘La extension del Estado Islámico por el norte de África y el África Subsahariana’. In her opinion, “the threat of jihadism in Europe is determined by the Syrian-Iraqi conflict, by the struggle between Islamic State and al-Qaeda over the leadership of the global jihad, and by the potential return of European foreign combatants to their own countries”. Therefore, she stresses that “European prevention measures for radicalization are essential in order to cope with the recruitment of supporters and fighters”.
Javier Corrales, Political Science professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, studies in his article ‘El legalismo autocratico en Venezuela’ the increasing drift towards authoritarianism of Nicolás Maduro’s regime and its incompatibility with full-fledged democracy. “During Chávez’s mandate and his United Socialist Party, Venezuela became the best example of a hybrid regime in Latin America”, he points out in his article, defining a ‘hybrid regime’ as the regime which “resorts simultaneously to democratic and authoritarian practices, so that the governing party stands for elections but the president governs with an undermined system of checks and balances”.
Corrales explains that, “through the use and misuse of laws”, Maduro has led the country to a higher degree of authoritarianism than Chávez, spurred by “the loss of electoral competitiveness and the economic context”. “Judging the evolution of his regime, Maduro seems confident that he has the necessary institutional control to follow the course of more restrictions”, he assures in his article, which compiles data such as that “none of the 45,474 decisions of the Supreme Court since 2005 has ruled against Government”. “His rhetoric of facing an economic war gives him the justification to perform a counterattack. It is very likely that one of the most restrictive regimes of Latin America responds to its crisis becoming even more restrictive”, he points out.
This issue of the FAES deals with populism in two articles. In ‘Syriza en el Gobierno: ‘Tomar el cielo por asalto’, professor Antonis Klapsis from the Hellenic Open University describes the circumstances and promises that facilitated the rise to power of the party headed by Alexis Tsipras, as well as the bitter realities he should have faced and did not. For its part, Ángel Rivero, Political Theory professor of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, studies in ‘Asaltar el cielo’ (Assaulting Heaven) the origins of the expression, recently coined again by Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, concluding that “history shows us that it has always been a failure: or rather it brought about a painful defeat or once heaven was conquered, hell arrived.
Cuadernos 47 also includes the following texts: ‘El conservador convencido’, from Roger Scruton; ‘La reforma electoral italiana de 2015’, from Marco Olivetti; ‘Orígenes y justificación del presidencialismo americano’, from Javier Redondo; ‘El denostado siglo XIX’, from Luis Arranz Notario; and ‘¿Giro hacia el Pacífico? La política exterior de la Administración Obama hacia Asia Oriental’, from Juan Tovar.