They are policies that affect the present and the future of the whole society and in whose definition and application have interests and aspirations a plurality of political and social agents. If they are not recognized and incorporated into the debate, the central issues of life together rarely get a sufficiently durable response. Using an exclusive procedure to deal with them also erodes the democratic quality of the result and delegitimizes the system as a whole.
In a recent book, Democratic Practice. Origins of the Iberian Divide in Political Inclusion, Professor Robert Fishman analyzes intelligent and documented democratic practices in Portugal and Spain. It examines how the Great Economic Crisis of 2008 has been treated in both countries and how the territorial issue has been addressed.
It has important consequences to include or exclude from the decision process actors located in the periphery of the system because of their social extraction or their national identification. In his comparison, Fishman points out that the Portuguese political system has integrated a greater number of actors, as a result of a democratic transition developed with intense popular presence. The Spanish political system would be a tributary of a transition agreed by the sociopolitical elites, suspicious of a more intense popular implication.
These are suggestive observations when there are signs of a new political cycle in Spanish democracy and not just a change in the electoral landscape. The institutional map – the parties and their system – is being modified in plain sight. Social movements of more or less broad and continuous scope have acquired a greater public presence. Whoever tries to answer from the Government to the big pending problems should take note of it. It is true that invocations to dialogue abound. But they will not be effective if attitudes that ignore a part of the actors involved are not modified or the dissenting one is treated as an adversary who is demanded unconditional surrender.
This precondition for democratic dialogue is valid for the attempt to alleviate the great social havoc caused by a bad exit from the crisis that has distributed its costs in an extremely unfair way. It is also worth to gradually clear a passable track that can lead us to a modus vivendi in the national question. It is true that the electoral campaign did not invite optimism. The electoral results have hinted at some positive signs non-minor part of the citizenry seems to distance itself from sectarian approaches that have led us to the great failures of recent years.
The great responsibility of political leadership to drive a fundamental reorientation in which the dynamics of exclusion and confrontation is being replaced by a dynamic of inclusion and integration is undeniable. Pedro Sanchez and the PSOE sector that has lent his confidence give signs that they could try, understanding that we can not ignore the consolidated existence of the Catalan independence movement. It remains to be seen if the same thing happens in Catalonia: its institutional leaders should also attend to rectification recommendations that come from a part of their own followers and recognize the political and social weight of citizens who do not share their objectives.
This transition from the field of confrontation to the agora of dialogue is not the exclusive responsibility of governments or institutional actors. It is also the media and citizenship. It is largely up to the media often inclined to place politics on the track of sports competition where it only knows how to distinguish winners and losers. And it also concerns a citizen willing to not get carried away by the deceptive “I like” and “I do not like” social networks. It is the combined action of many that could turn the sectarian and exclusionary struggle into the necessary democratic conversation (Fishman). It is a demanding task, very long and facing great obstacles.