A recent article by the retired four-star general Fulgencio Coll, Spanish Army chief of staff between 2008 and 2012, has declared that the powers of the state must prevent the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as new Spanish prime minister and should consider the possibility of prosecuting him, on the grounds that the acting PM is a problem for national security. If this is not an appeal to a coup d'etat mentality, it looks very much like it. Former general Coll is now a spokesperson for Vox on the Palma city council and his diatribe, which has circulated widely through military units and in social media circles frequented by those in uniform, is not simply an anecdote, not just a minor matter.
Firstly, because for four years, when the PSOE's José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was prime minister, Coll occupied a key role in the Spanish military leadership. He held the top post in Spain's land army. In whose hands are we? Is this an indication of the transition the army made from dictatorship to democracy? Because this is not an isolated case of a high-ranking military figure who, upon leaving his post, has made pronouncements that are clearly destabilizing.
I have long argued that it is not only the senior judiciary of Spain that has remained decades behind in building the democratic architecture of a European Union country. The "deep state" has put up barriers that have unbalanced the whole structure. That unity is something above the law has been the sacred mantra in every judicial case against the Catalan independence movement. The chant of A por ellos - "go get 'em" - as a way to criminalize an ideology. Anything is permissible if the objective is to strengthen national unity. Pedro Sánchez is not a problem, but voting in a government with the Podemos and ERC parties is.
Under this patriotic culture, dangerous tirades are let loose, and the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, is pressured not to recognize the immunity as MEPs of Puigdemont, Junqueras and Comín. Now he is urged to wait until the investiture of Sánchez has taken place. The protagonist of this particular case is Iratxe García, who chairs the Socialist group in the European Parliament and is very close to the acting Spanish PM. García failed and Sassoli stood up to the onslaught, something that unfortunately rarely happens. And the most pitiful aspect is that while in Madrid, ERC is being pressured to say yes to Sánchez, in Brussels one of his representatives is actively making moves against Junqueras, the president of the party who is to give him the necessary votes. It's the patriotic culture.