Article by José María Aznar in the magazine of the Association of former parliamentarians The Constitution of the Spanish people

The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Constitution brings together several generations of Spaniards. The generation of those who made it possible; the generation of those of us who continued that effort until the democratic system provided by the Constitution was fully established; the generation of our children who were born in Spain as part of the European construction project and the protagonist of a great historical success story. And it also brings together that generation, the most recent, which has been born in a country full of possibilities and a world in transformation. The Constitution has not gone down in history with the adjectives usual in previous constitutional texts. It is not a radical or conservative Constitution, of the left or of the right, it is not a Constitution that is defined by a certain political form; it is simply the Constitution of the Spanish people.

We have obtained everything we could ask for to the Constitution. An extraordinary effort of reconciliation between Spanish people from their firm will to not to repeat the terror of the rupture and civil confrontation. An advanced democratic system, with a wide repertoire of guaranteed rights and freedoms. A political framework in which the alternation in power, in accordance with the will of the citizens expressed in the ballot boxes, reflects the normality of democratic life. A system of freedoms that would allow us to share the great project of European integration as we are doing. An institutional set headed by the Crown as a symbol of unity and permanence of the nation has served the general interests with more than reasonable efficiency and, in any case, comparable to the democratic societies that are similar to ours. A model of welfare built with a great effort of solidarity of the Spanish people in which it has been possible to develop universal and quality public services.

By this I do not mean that the Constitution has been a magic recipe. Nothing would have been done without the effort of the Spaniards, without their civic commitment and, of course, without the maximum sacrifice, until the surrender of their lives, of those who defended the Constitution with heroic courage against those who wanted to destroy it through terror. We should always, but on this anniversary with all the more reason, recognize and pay tribute to those victims for the freedom of all. What the Constitution has given us is a good roadmap for progress as a society and for leaving behind a supposed inability of the Spanish people to govern ourselves in freedom, putting an end to the perverse tradition of policies of exclusion and violence towards the adversary.

We cannot forget that this commemoration takes place when the Constitution suffers a serious and continuous challenge from secessionism in Catalonia. Moreover, from the insane revisionism of the constitutional pact to discredit the effort of encounter between the Spanish people and the accumulation of anti-system forces that, in the form of nationalisms and populisms, bring to Europe today the most disturbing shadows of the past of the Continent. They are challenges not against a text or a few words, they are challenges that seek to destroy the framework of coexistence of all citizens; that exclude because they want to assume the right of a few to decide for all; that fracture because only in the rupture of society can their discourse of antagonism and revenge prosper. This situation gives rise to justifiable concern among many. We cannot allow extremists who believe they have outstanding accounts with the transition to occupy a space in Spanish politics that the ballot boxes have denied them, nor can we allow secessionists to seek the bankruptcy of Europe's most decentralized state in which Spain's diversity has been fully recognized, protected and safeguarded. Everyone is free to profess the political ideas they prefer, especially since the Constitution protects that freedom. What no one has the right to do is to impose those ideas, and that is exactly what happens when someone believes that their ideas or desires enable them to violate the law and deny the rule of law. Spain has never achieved anything from the protagonism of extremes. The Constitution, democracy and representative institutions are the result and require a great deal of consensus, respect for the rules of the game and the capacity to confront without calling into question the very system that makes this confrontation possible in the peaceful and free terms of a pluralist society. To renew the Constitution is not to rewrite it, but to strengthen what is meant by our will to continue living together and free under the protection of the law.

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