Two of the most famous political consultants in Latin America, Jaime Durán Barbaand Santiago Nieto , have published their experiences in a book entitled Politics in the 21st Century . Both have worked for leaders and parties from different countries, both winners and losers, and collect in their work, published in Spain by Debate, the difficulties of contemporary politics to face the new social reality.
“Modern politicians do not know how to face reality and postmodern leaders do not know what to do with politics at a time when public opinion took on a life of its own and is the one that creates reality, which points out what is more or less important”. The authors collect and analyze in the work the concept code red , used in Latin America to refer to a ruling elite that turns on itself as the medieval symbol of the uróboro, a snake that forms a circle and bites its own tail.
The members of the red code attack, devour, praise, cite each other and reproduce in their own reality, often artificial. When something unexpected happens, the red circle is surprised and astonished, while the citizens had perceived it before.
Something similar is happening in Spanish politics. The Government and the parties, locked in their red code and biting the queue in Parliament, have been overwhelmed by the emotions of different groups that have broken into the streets. The parties have lost control of the political agenda, now imposed by unexpected events, diverse manifestations and dormant claims during the hardest time of the crisis.
The manifestations of the pensioners forced the President of the Government to appear in Congress . Rajoy offered no response other than a vague commitment conditioned to approve their budgets . Parents who have lost their children in horrific crimes presided over the plenary session of the reviewable permanent prison .
Since the time of Rodea the Congress , there was not much agitation in the streets. An emotional tension that has ended up infecting the leadership of the parties and the parliamentary life itself. The Spanish red code lives in amazement and permanent improvisation, at the risk of what people say or do as different collectives as grandparents who demand a decent pension, or parents whose children were killed, who demand the maintenance of permanent prison revisable.
“The affective sphere is more important than the logical-verbal,” argue the authors of Politics in the 21st Century . Nothing better to illustrate the accuracy of this diagnosis on the current policy than the Plenary Session of the Congress in which the proposal to repeal the permanent remainable prison was debated. A discussion on the Penal Code turned into grass of the emotions, with the parents of the assassinated ones in the rostrum of oradores, turned into the main protagonists of the debate.
The story about how and why the proposal of the PNV to repeal the revisable permanent prison that had slept the dream of the just in the Congress Table shows that the parties move in the field of emotions, in the absence of concrete political actions, legislative activity or real reforms. They are the consequences of “a legislature that is dead”, according to the generalized diagnosis of all political actors.
Each of them moves by his own emotion. The party Citizens , for the frenzy and the fieryness of who is seen as the winner in the polls. In order not to be accused of blocking the initiatives of the parliamentary opposition, he decided to give free rein precisely to the proposal to repeal the reviewable permanent prison. To that and not to any other of those that await on social issues and economic policy.
The PP , moved by the emotion of fear and alarm at the bleeding of voters who detect the polls, grabbed the nail and climbed on the back of a current majority citizen that requires maximum punishment for the most brutal crimes that shocked the country.
The PSOE , emotionally decayed by its stagnation and weak, by its internal divisions, defends itself as much as possible from environmental pressure. The terrible murder of the boy from Almeria Gabriel Cruz ended up in Congress in an intervention of the socialist spokesman who put the hair on end. All this came together in the corridors, where the spokesmen of the PSOE and the PP argued bitterly, once a plenary session was finished, which even its protagonists were embarrassed afterwards.
The Spanish politics does not leave the logic of the theatrical scenario, in which the actors move their focus on their roles and pending the applause or the boos of the public. The public rises with political prominence when politics does not offer concrete solutions to concrete problems. Paralysis begins to take its toll on those who run the country.
Particularly to PSOE and PP, the traditional parties that believed to have survived the crisis in the last elections, being the first and second most voted. The evolution of public opinion, however, seems to indicate that perhaps its weakness has not reached bottom.
In all European countries – with the exception of Germany , and with nuances – there is a decline in the historical parties. Different movements have broken through that have ended the hegemony of conventional formations. The case of France is the clearest. But it has also happened in Italy and in other Central European countries.
In Spain, the result of the elections of 2015 and 2016 made us think that the push of Ciudadanos y Podemos had been held back by PP and PSOE. Two years later, the scenario no longer seems so clear. The students of politics and also the sensations of those who dedicate themselves to it perceive that the functioning of traditional formations has ceased to be effective for the new needs of the political representation of citizens.
Perhaps, as the consultants maintain, their vertical structures have become obsolete for the new era of horizontal communication. The public is increasingly demanding and no longer satisfied with any promise, nor with slogans that once were effective. The most striking case is that of PP. Its leaders lament that all attempts to erode Citizens, for their inexperience and their contradictions, are falling on deaf ears.
The fashion party in the Spanish red circle has radically changed its approach to permanent prison in a matter of months and has done so naturally. If three years ago it was Podemos who was “in the grace of God” -according to the expression of the socialist José María Barreda – and was immune to attacks, now it is Citizens who have taken over from the grace of the Most High. Podemos and his leader, Pablo Iglesias , also appreciate a half-open door to stop their fall in the popular mobilizations, which, incidentally, were what drove the creation of this political force.