Mariano Rajoy has returned this Monday to the Faculty of Law of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), where half a century ago (1972) —although then it was located in another building— he began some legal studies that would serve as a wicker for become, in a few years, the youngest property registrar in Spain. This time, the President of the Government returned to the Compostela university to teach a master class on the occasion of the festival of San Raimundo de Peñafort.
The organizers had invited him to speak “about whatever he wanted”, and Rajoy decided to do so about “populism and the future of Europe”. Thus he titled his master class. Why «populism is the most important danger that lurks» to the European Union«assessed the former President of the Government at the start of his speech in the assembly hall of the Compostela Faculty of Law.
The former President of the Government spoke after the President of the Xunta, Alfonso Rueda, at a table where, among others, the rector of the USC, Antonio López, and Galicia’s superior prosecutor, Fernando Suanzes, were also sitting. Rajoy began with a praise to the political, economic and social virtues of the European Union. “A great success story” that consolidated a time of unparalleled peace on the continent, summed up the former popular president. Of course, it is not exempt from risks, and he warned, citing the Nobel Prize for Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, that “populism is the path of self-destruction of democracy.”
populisms of Europe
That populism can have, Rajoy delved before students, professors and authorities at this academic act, different masks, different clothing. And without citing them by name, he alluded, for example, to former US President Donald Trump —a “New York millionaire,” he said—, or Pablo Iglesias. But he also mentioned the former Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, or situations such as those currently experienced by countries such as Poland, Hungary or England. In the latter, where Brexit caused Downing Street – Rajoy valued – “five prime ministers have passed in a quarter of an hour”.
But who held the portfolio of various ministries during the mandates of José María Aznar and later was head of the central executive for six and a half years focused his speech above all on Spain, whose designs, to this day, are decided by a “Frankenstein government”, and where the main threat, as far as populism is concerned, revolves, in Rajoy’s opinion, in the Catalan secessionist process.
In this sense, and with a direct allusion to the current national political context, the former popular president warned his successor in La Moncloa, the socialist Pedro Sánchez, to repeal the crime of sedition and reduce the crime of embezzlement, as his executive recently decided, ” It’s not very European.” “And in my opinion,” Rajoy added on the spot, “not democratic either”.
Rajoy’s proposal in light of this diagnosis of the risks that the EU runs if it is carried away by the winds of populism, he himself condensed into a single sentence: “More Europe, and more Europe in all areas”. On the economic level, the countries that make up the European Union must move towards, for example, “a single energy market”. And the former president of the Government also defended that steps be taken towards “fiscal unity”. And even, in Rajoy’s opinion, the figure of “a European Minister of Finance” should be created. Rajoy proposed the same recipe for unity among the member countries of the EU for other areas such as Defense and immigration policy, on which he insisted on the need to strengthen agreements with the countries of origin.
“More Europe, and more Europe in every way”
Former President of the Government
tribute to the faculty
The session held this Monday in the assembly hall of the Compostela faculty also served to pay tribute to the faculty of the center through the faculty insignia that this year distinguished Consuelo Ferreiro Regueiro, Javier Maseda Rodríguez, Miguel Abel Souto, the reitor Antonio López Díaz, Lourdes Mella Méndez, Alba Nogueira López, Ana Mª Gude Fernández, Santiago Bernardo Brage Cendán and José Caamaño Alegre on the occasion of their 25 years of teaching service.
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Rajoy: “Eliminating the crime of sedition is neither European nor democratic”