Spain Defense and Security

The challenge that Spain has faced for a long time in the field of security was twofold: on the one hand it had to defend itself against terrorist attacks by national groups on its territory, on the other hand, despite the absence of direct threats, it played an important role in the missions. international. The railway bombings that took place in Madrid on 11 March 2004 in some way changed the scenario and overshadowed the internal terrorist threat, outclassed by international Islamic terrorism. Since the end of Francoism, Spain has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the most important Western international organizations: the EU and NATO.As for the latter, Spain joined it in 1982, but it was only in 1999 that it decided to participate in the integrated military structure. Today the country is home to five NATO headquarters. Good relations with the USAthey were sanctioned in 2001 by the Spanish assent to the expansion of the American military base in Rota – which accommodates about 4,000 US soldiers and civilians – and by Madrid’s participation in international missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The election of Zapatero in 2004, against the war, led to the withdrawal of the Spanish contingent in Iraq exactly one year after the start of the mission and after the attacks in Madrid (April 2004). However, this did not entail a lesser commitment by Spain on the international front, which was reaffirmed by the choice to continue participating in the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (despite the strong cuts in defense) and by that of participating in the NATO intervention in Libya. in 2011.

On the domestic front, independence terrorism and relations between the government and the ETA are still an unsolved problem, despite recent attempts (in particular the 2006 mediation of the Zapatero government) to find a political solution. In October 2011, the separatist organization announced its commitment to overcome the armed confrontation and invited the governments of Madrid and Paris to open a dialogue for a solution to the conflict that lasted over 40 years. At the same time, the leaders of the organization called on the representatives of Izquierda Abertzale (the currents of the Basque Marxist left) to renounce violence and enter political legality, strengthening the nationalist cause and support for Basque independence. For Spain defense and foreign policy, please check

The challenge to traditional politics: Podemos and Ciudadanos

‘Podemos’ was founded in January 2014 as an official political party at the initiative of some intellectuals, activists and members of civil society who had taken part in the protests that broke out in 2011 against the austerity measures adopted by the government. The demonstrators, self-defined “Indignados”, did not have a formal organization but belonged to different groups united by common positions against the political class in power. The objective of ‘Podemos’ is to give voice to the Indignados movement within the institutions and to reform the Spanish political system from within, carrying out alternative social and economic policies. Party secretary was Pablo Iglesias, a 37-year-old professor of political science at the Complutense University of Madrid. The party quickly gained acclaim over the course of the year and in the spring of 2015 it led all political polls. In the last months of 2015, however, Podemos began to lose ground, partly due to the comeback of President Rajoy’s Partido Popular, favored by the improvement of the economic situation, and partly due to the extraordinary growth of another party: Ciudadanos (Citizens).

Founded in 2006, Ciudadanos has a much more liberal orientation than Podemos. Its leader is Albert Rivera, a 35-year-old Catalan lawyer. Ciudadanos’ original aim was the opposition to Catalan separatism, but over the years the party, accused of populism by its political rivals, has taken on many issues related to the economic crisis, proposing radical reforms of the tax system in favor of companies, the rationalization of social assistance and simplification of the state bureaucracy. Unlike Podemos, who criticizes the austerity policies imposed by Brussels, the party has no Eurosceptic views and is in favor of a greater role for the Union.

The question of Catalan independence

After the stir caused by the referendum of 9 November 2014, the issue of Catalan independence returned to the headlines following the regional vote in September 2015. The 2014 referendum was purely consultative, after the Constitutional Court had issued a declaration of illegitimacy against him and that parliament had rejected him. The leader of the Catalan separatists, Artur Mas, president of the Generalitat de Catalunya, decided to hold the vote anyway, with a purely symbolic character, but the legal defeat undermined popular support for the separatists. Faced with the weakening of its political base, Mas decided to anticipate the regional elections, which should have been held in 2016. The president in the electoral campaign transformed the election into a vote on the independence of the region, inserting it as the main point of his coalition’s program. However, the outcome of the vote on September 27 was ambiguous: Mas’s coalition obtained 47% of the votes but failed to obtain an absolute majority of the seats. To get out of the political impasse and the risk of new early elections, Mas resigned from the presidency of the region, favoring the birth of a coalition government led by the former mayor of Girona, Carles Puigdemont, who was in favor of independence. The political confrontation with Madrid, therefore, continues and political instability at the local and national level makes it impossible to predict the outcome.

The ‘frozen’ dialogue of peace

Euskadi ta Askatasuna (Eta) – literally ‘Basque Country and freedom’ – was founded on July 31, 1959 by some nationalist students who believed that the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV) represented Basque interests inadequately during Francoism. The movement combined the anti-Spanish and ultra-Catholic ideology of the founder of the PNV, Sabino Arana, with the Marxist-Leninist inspiration; his goal was the independence of the Basque region from Spain. Considered a terrorist organization by the Spanish Government and, since 2001, also by E u, l ‘ Agewas responsible for more than 800 murders and thousands of kidnappings, the victims of which mainly belonged to the police and the army. The first attack dates back to June 1968. However, terrorist activity increased after Franco’s death, in the second half of the 1970s, and then decreased in intensity. L ‘ ETA broke the truce declared by it eight times. The penultimate in 2006, when he announced a permanent ceasefire and then broke it with the attacks at Madrid’s Barajas airport in December 2006, after Zapatero had established the opening of a dialogue channel and made himself available for numerous concessions. The Age declared a new permanent ceasefire in January 2011, which was welcomed with much skepticism by the government and public opinion but also by the PNV. Political arm of the ETAwas the radical left-wing Batasuna party, founded in 1978 under the name of Herri Batasuna (‘Unity of the People’). Fighting for the independence of the Basque Country, it was declared illegal and banned in 2003 by the Spanish Supreme Court. The European Court of Human Rights also ruled on the issue in 2009, deeming the dissolution of the party a social need. In February 2011, the new Basque party, ‘Sortu’, was created, which declared its rejection of violence. The aspiration of the movement was to participate in the local elections of May 2011 in the Basque Country. The request was rejected by the Spanish Supreme Court because the party was deemed a direct continuation of Batasuna. Only in June 2012 did the Supreme Court legalize the position of ‘Sortu’, recognizing his right of political association.

Spain Defense and Security

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