Paper presented at the JMCE Research Student Workshop, 'Rethinking Europe after the Financial Crisis’, King’s College London, 8 October 2010
The Spanish Model (or paradigm) of democratisation and integration into Europe after the global financial crisis Pablo Calderon Martinez, Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, King's College London
I. Theories of Democratisation, the Political Culture School and Spain in Europe. In 1910 Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote in his essay ‘La Pedagogia Social como Problema Politico’: “Spain is the problem, Europe is the solution”. This somehow over-simplified assertion became something of a Spanish obsession. And although the Europe he envisaged as the solution to the “problem of Spain” was not the supra-national beaurocracy that we now know, the “problem of Spain”, which was to remain unresolved throughout most of the twentieth Century, was the same in 1910 than in 1975: economic and political backwardness relative to Western Europe. The European Community proved to be crucial in solving some of the more urgent matters in economic, political and social terms. The economic benefits the EC brought to Spain are relatively easy to identify; even as recently as the period between 1994 and 1999 European aid represented an average of 1.5% of Spanish GDP.
This paper, however, presents an analysis of the Spanish transition to democracy within the framework of European integration. I will focus my analysis on the development of the political culture in Spain, which according to some modernisation (Inglehart, Welzel and Lipset) and culturalist theorists (Diamond & Verba and Huntington), is both a source and a result of changes in the political structure. The question of whether political culture and internationalisation played a role in the Spanish transition (or indeed any transition to democracy) is, in its own, a source of intense debate in the transitological literature. This paper, however, aims to contribute to the idea that Europe represented for Spain more than an economic and political institutional arrangement; the Spanish democratisation and eventual integration into Europe were overlapping processes that interacted at several levels with mass values and orientations. Few analysts of the Spanish transition would challenge the view that Europe offered, at the very least, a ‘systematically supportive’ influence for Spanish democracy; ‘the fact that the EEC was solidly democratic and that it had “set up a stable pattern of rewards and incentives” for would be members’, as Linz & Stepan (1996: 113) argue, was at the very least, helpful to Spain’s transition and consolidation. The degree of influence Europe had in the Spanish transition varies considerably between authors and theories of democratisation. However, I believe the Spanish transition (and indeed the similar experiences in Southern Europe) is a powerful example of the cultural, social and ideological significance of Europe. In the current political climate, and after the failure of the Constitutional Treaty and the debt crisis spread throughout Southern Europe, it is becoming increasingly important for Europe ‘to decide how it wants to be defined: by geographic boundaries, by treaties, or by a shared common cultural heritage’ (Beitter 2003: xi). It is in this crucial juncture that the debate over the cultural significance of Europe for the Spanish transition becomes even more relevant.
This paper takes the specific example of the Spanish transition to illustrate how European integration can be measured in more than political and economic gains. The assumption that Europe is not just a geographical entity but that it is also a political and cultural ideal (Lowell 2003: pg.122) is not new. Whilst there is a common set of values emerging from the “Athens-Rome-Jerusalem” progression (D.W. Lovell 2003: 121) (or Levinas’s apparently simple definition of Europe as “the bible and the Greeks”), the actual existence and weight of a supposed European culture is often questioned. For some the formation of the European Communities was ‘accompanied by an ideology of “Europeaness”’ (Pocock 1997: 301), but there is also a feeling that the fact that no European “super-state” has emerged, means that the supposed cultural affinity of the European states is of no major relevance. At the same time, Milward argues that even if there is “something like a European culture” (somehow embodied in its identity), it lacks the sense of allegiance national identities posses, and, what is more, this allegiance cannot develop to the extent national allegiances have because of the lack of recent European myths capable of evoking strong enough feelings (Milward 1997: 5-21); or as put by a prominent theorists of European integration: ‘who will feel European in the depths of their being…who will die for Europe?’ (R. Hudson 2000: 420).
Although I agree with the notion that European identity will probably never be strong enough to challenge individual nationalisms, I believe Europe was in the 1970s and 1980s enough of a significant socio-cultural entity to have a singular effect in the Spanish transition. In this paper I argue that Spain was a success not only because of its ability to consolidate democratic institutions and a successful market economy in record time, but also because it succeeded in ‘inducing cultural changes that made it part of the European community of nations.’ (Encarnación 2001:61) Although not without its problems, the Spanish transition succeeded in developing a strong market economy within the framework of integration into Europe, raising the level of welfare indicators to Western European levels, establishing a robust democracy (despite being marred by ETA terrorism, the 1981 coup attempt and some economic crises) (Waisman 2005: 1-3), internationalising its bourgeoisie and transforming the identity of Spanish society1.
I certainly believe that the success of the Spanish transition boils down to far more than just being in ‘a good neighbourhood’ (Waisman 2005: 9). Other countries (such as Mexico for example) have embarked in similar processes of economic integration with advanced democracies and received considerable aid but have not been able to replicate the Spanish success. The very nature of the European integration project, however, stimulates social cohesion and equality among the member states, making the democratic nature of the Union one of its main characteristics. Sebastian Royo proposes that the integration processes in Spain was a key part of its social and cultural transition to democracy; it was internationalisation that forced Spain to embark on a process of social and cultural self-examination and self-rediscovery and deal with issues such as nationality, citizenship, ethnicity and social policies (ibis: 538). If we, as Royo suggests, understand the European aspirations of the Spanish state (both its elites and citizenry) as a key factor in its attempt to democratise, then we can assume that analysing this process will help us understand the success of the Spanish transition.
Before going any further, though, I would like to switch my attention to the debate over the role political cultures play in democracy and why it is that, in this context, Spain is considered a democratic success. As proponents of the political culture school, Inglehart and Welzel offer a detailed definition of democracy, together with a scale to ‘measure’ democracy and a clear distinction between formal and genuine democracy. For these authors democracy is a result of deep-rooted orientations that motivate the members of a society ‘to demand freedom and responsive government – and to act to ensure that the governing elites remain responsive to them’ (Inglehart and Welzel 2005: 2). From this perspective democracy is a phenomenon that lies on the individual values and is then projected towards the political system. They also claim that ‘formal democracy can be imposed on almost any society, but whether it provides genuine autonomous choice to its citizens largely depends on mass values’ (ibis: 149), which falls in line with the basic claim of the political culture school that ‘political institutions and mass values must be congruent in order to produce stable and effective regimes’ (ibis:158). Here also lies the distinction between formal (when the institutions and the mass values are not congruent) and genuine democracy (when institutions and mass values are in alignment).
The proposition that there are certain values and attitudes that fit democratic regimes is not new. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville refers to a certain virtue in societies that successfully establish democratic regimes; he writes that ‘although a democratic government is founded upon a very simple and natural principle, it always presupposes the existence of a high degree of culture and enlightenment. At the first glance it may be imagined to belong to the earliest stages of the world, but a maturer observation will convince us that it could only come last in the succession of human history’ (Tocqueville 2006: 3592). Here Tocqueville refers to democracy as a form of government (or a regime) and not as a ‘tribal’ form of organisation (as it was experienced by the Greeks for example). Huntington also explores the idea that democracy needs certain pre-conditions; in his view, democratic leaders cannot ‘through will and skill create democracy where pre-conditions are absent’ (Huntington 1991:108). He then goes on to explain that the Third Wave of democratisation was only possible because several factors made it a possibility in much of the developing world. This included socioeconomic development and responsible elites, of course, but also changes in the international scene and, most importantly for this study, cultural changes (mainly religious).
However, probably the first major work that looks at the political orientations of culture is Almond & Verba’s The Civic Culture (1963). In this study of five ‘democracies’, the authors provide a solid theoretical framework for the study and analysis of political cultures. Political culture is, according to them, a manifestation of the general cultural attitudes of the population; no political culture can go against the general cultural traits of a given society. Political culture in general is the group of ‘specifically political orientations-attitudes towards the political system and its various parts, and attitudes towards the role of the self in the system’, hence, the ‘political culture of a nation is the particular distribution of patterns of orientations towards political objects among the members of the nation’ (Almond & Verba 1989: 12-13).
The idea that culture matters in political systems has been a central issue in works by Huntington, Ronald Inglehart, Arend Lijphart, Fukuyama and even Parsons. However, Inglehart has based his theory on the premise that political culture is a link between socioeconomic development and democracy (an expression of modernization). He not only believes that political culture does not depend on the political structure, but claims that ‘democratic institutions seem to depend on enduring cultural traits such as life satisfaction and interpersonal trust’ (ibis: 1209).
In Inglehart’s view, the values and orientations that define political culture change as result of socioeconomic development. As an advocate of modernisation theory he makes use of political culture as a link between socioeconomic development and modernisation. By his own words he does not believe in neither cultural nor economic determinism, but rather acknowledges that ‘unless economic development is accompanied by certain changes in social structure and political culture, liberal democracy is unlikely to result’ (Inglehart 1988: 1220). What is true is that he does places the causal flow from socioeconomic development and political culture to political structure and the political system; political regimes are the outcome of socioeconomic development and political culture.
Acknowledging that neither political culture nor socioeconomic development are on their own enough to establish democracy, as proposed by Linz & Stepan and Diamond, Linz & Lipset, I will, however, depart form the assumption that political culture plays an important part in successful democratisation. Hence, I will look at the process of internationalisation in Spain during its transition to democracy.