Between Memory and Law: Controversial Decision of Spanish Government Facing Constitutional Court

Politics - April 6, 2024

On April 1st, the Minister of Territorial Policy, and Democratic Memory, Ángel Víctor Torres, announced a controversial measure: the Government will bring before the Constitutional Court the autonomous laws on Democratic Memory of Aragon, Castile and León, and the Valencian Community. This decision has sparked intense debate and once again calls into question the management of governmental priorities.

The Government’s focus on historical memory has reached concerning levels. While remembering and honouring the victims of the past is important, it cannot become an obsession that diverts attention from more pressing issues facing Spanish society today. One of the issues deserving priority attention is the renewal of the judiciary, a matter that has been stalled for five long years.

Judicial independence is a fundamental pillar of any modern democracy, and its deterioration or stagnation can have devastating consequences. The lack of proper renewal in the judiciary not only affects the effectiveness of the legal system but also undermines citizens’ trust in democratic institutions. While the Government engages in disputes over historical memory, justice languishes in a state of inaction that jeopardizes the integrity of the Spanish judicial system.

It is essential to question the Government’s priorities and its biased approach to historical memory at the expense of crucial issues such as the renewal of the judiciary. Why allocate considerable resources and efforts to challenge autonomous laws on democratic memory when there are more urgent issues requiring immediate attention?

In addition to this, just a few days after the minister’s announcement, President Pedro Sánchez, during his visit to the ‘Valle de los caídos’, announced that he will resort to international bodies, seeking recognition of the seriousness of these actions on a global level. The Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, has confirmed that contacts will be initiated with UN rapporteurs and requests for reports and debates in the European Parliament and the Council of Europe will be made.

This strategy reflects the Government’s concern over the “violation of democratic values and human rights”, which, it argues, are represented by the actions of the regional governments of the PP and Vox parties. The intention to request debates and evaluations at international levels seeks not only to highlight the seriousness of these actions but also to pressure for recognition of Spain’s commitment to human rights and historical justice.

At the national level, the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the Law of Democratic Memory and its role in recognizing and protecting the rights of the victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship. The visit of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to the laboratory in the ‘Valle de los caídos’, where identification work on remains is being carried out, reinforces this commitment and underscores the importance of closing the wounds of the past with justice and dignity.

Amidst this escalation in the dispute over historical memory, it is essential not to lose sight of the importance of addressing the challenges of the present and the future. While recognizing history is fundamental, it cannot become an obstacle to building a fairer and more prosperous society in the present. It is time for all parties involved in this dispute to prioritize dialogue and commitment to the well-being and reconciliation of all Spanish citizens.

Finding a balance between acknowledging history and addressing the challenges of the present and future is crucial. While historical memory is important, it cannot become an obstacle to addressing the immediate needs of Spanish society. It is time for all parties involved in this dispute to prioritize dialogue and commitment to the well-being and reconciliation of all Spanish citizens. At a time when Spanish society faces significant challenges, from economic crisis to political polarization, it is ironic that the Government dedicates so much time and resources to disputes over the past. It is necessary to find a path that allows progress towards a more prosperous and just future for all Spaniards.