Opinion: The Spanish New Normality

Ruth Ferrero-Turrión, European Studies Professor and expert in Eurasia

After almost three months in confinement, one of the hardest in the EU, the Spanish government cancel the alarm state past June 21st. It have been months of uncertainty and despair for all Spanish citizens. However, though a big majority was conscious about the dangers of being outside, there was a group of population that disagreed about the confinement and wanted to go out since mid-May. Most of them are followers of the opposition parties, on the right side of the Spanish political spectrum.

Ruth Ferrero-Turrión during the Economic Forum in 2015.

Few weeks earlier of the end of the alarm state, a progressive de-escalated procedure was adopted by the central government that was divided into three phases. Passing from one to another meant that the territories were adding more freedom of movement and that the economy was able to be reactivated. Some of the Spanish regions (Autonomous Communities) were anxious to get to phase three, probably the most one was Madrid government.

After the end of the closure, all competences retained by the Central government, such as the intra and inter-regional mobility, were back to the Regions meaning than since June 21st them are the ones with the political  responsibilities and are the ones in charge of keeping the virus controlled. In addition, it was still the central government the one in charge of authorizing the return of tourism or re-starting the different economic sectors.

Meanwhile the political sphere has been all but quiet. Unlike its neighbors countries, the political opposition has been in a very aggressive mood against the actions taken by the government. Even, they were accusing President Sánchez of breaking the rule of law in its favor over the alarm state. Besides, the extreme right opposition party (VOX) has been very hard in their positions, the conservatives (PP) have been showing its two Jano faces. They are inside of a swinging dynamics among a radical and extreme critic to the government to a more conciliatory position that allows them to approve decrees to regulate the new normality.

This new normality basically is the final de-escalated phase in which, until a vaccine is founded, people will be able to live with some limited requirements and a lot of individual responsibility. Among those limitations it is including wear masks inside and outside if there are lot of people or maintain 1,5 meters of distance among others. Some sanctions have been approved to those that do not comply with the regulations.

Spain has been one of the most affected countries in Europe by the corona pandemia. More than 28.000 people have died since the beginning of March. The global uncertainty over, first the expansion, later the containment, and now the potential waves together with the absolute ignorance about how this virus is developing and how its effects remains in the human being and in the society have provoked one of the most dramatic situations in the EU since the Spanish flu at the beginning of the Twentieth century.

Over the next two years we will be forced to change our way of life in all our contexts, from personal to working ones. Relations will change not only among people,  but also among states. In the European Union we have already seen a strong solidarity crisis among Member States to fight the Corona. This is a dramatic moment for Europe, but also a window of opportunity to rebuild the European project foundations. Among them, solidarity, human rights, rule of law. Let’s hope that all our governments fight for them, inside of the nation-states, but also in the EU.