Author: Josep M. Colomer
Extent: 210 pp
Publication: June 2019
Publisher: Anthem Press
How a Ruinous Empire Thwarted the Nation-State
Old troubles with remote origins persist in modern Spain. When did Spain screw up?
The Spanish Frustration argues that, in the long term, Spain missed the opportunity to become a consolidated modern nation-state because it was entangled in imperial adventures for several centuries when it should have been building a solid domestic basis for further endeavours. The opportunity of shaping a modern, civilized Spanish society was lost.
Largely as a consequence of the waste of resources in the imperial effort, Spain missed the chance to build a civil administration, institutions of political representation and the rule of law at the right time. For long periods, militarism and clericalism substituted a weak state. As states create nations, rather than the other way around, the weakness of the Spanish state made the building of a unified cultural nation a frustrated, incomplete effort.
Lacking the institutional and cultural bases of a solid nation-state, the democratic regime established since the late 1970s in Spain has been based on a political party oligarchy which tends to produce minority governments and exclusionary decisions. Catalonia, the Basque Country and other centrifugal territorial autonomies also lend less support to the regime and threaten it with splits. People’s dissatisfaction and disengagement with the way democracy works are widespread.
In short: A ruinous empire made a weak state, which built an incomplete nation, which sustains a minority democracy. That, in a nutshell, is the political history of modern Spain.
Colomer provides a carefully selected empirical information that perfectly illustrates his arguments, and his clear and austere prose, habitual in all his texts, manuals, monographs and press articles, converts reading into a placid entertainment. He does not resort to essences and stereotyped national characters, but he wields serious data and arguments. That’s why his book is so stimulating. Oscar R. Buznego, Professor of Political Science, University of Oviedo, Spain