A project for Spain

Ana Palacio, Javier Gomá and Joaquín Leguina

The Rafael del Pino Foundation and the Fundación Transforma España organised the dialogue "A project for Spain" on 30 October 2019, with the participation of Ana Palacio, Javier Gomá and Joaquín Leguina.

Ana Palacio is an international lawyer specialising in European law, public international law and arbitration and heads the law firm Palacio y Asociados. She is currently a director of Pharmamar (leading biotechnology company) and AEE Power (energy infrastructures), and coordinating independent director of Enagás (technical manager of the Spanish gas system). She is a member of the Advisory Board of Investcorp (alternative investments) and of the International Advisory Board of Office Chérifien des Phosphates (fertilisers), and sits on the International Advisory Board of IE Business School (business school). She is also a member of the Executive Board of The Atlantic Council of the United States, the External Advisory Board of the Energy Futures Initiative, the Advisory Boards of the Sandra Day O'Connor Justice Prize and the MD Anderson Cancer Centre, as well as the Boards of Trustees of the Real Instituto Elcano, the Spain-US Council Foundation and the Institute for Human Sciences. She was recently elected to the Global Leadership Foundation. A Member of the European Parliament from 1994 to 2002, Ana Palacio was Spain's first female Foreign Minister (2002-2004). As a Member of the Spanish Parliament, between 2004 and 2006 she chaired the Joint Commission of the Congress and the Senate for the European Union. Between 2006 and 2008 she served as First Vice-President-General Counsel of the World Bank Group and Secretary General of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). She also served as Executive Vice-President in charge of the International Department of the French AREVA Group (2008-2009). She was an elected member of the Council of State of the Kingdom of Spain from March 2012 to October 2018.

Javier Gomá Lanzón is a Spanish philosopher, writer and essayist, author of the Tetralogía de la ejemplaridad (Tetralogy of Exemplarity) and a theatrical trilogy. He is also director of the Fundación Juan March. He graduated in Classical Philology (1988) and Law (1992) from the Complutense University of Madrid. He received his doctorate in Philosophy from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (National University of Distance Education) with an outstanding cum laude qualification. He defended his thesis in 2001 on imitation (which he would later call exemplarity) as an ethical guideline. In 1993 he won the competitive examination for the Corps of Lawyers of the Council of State with the number 1 of his promotion. He completed his law degree and the competitive examination in just three years. In 1996 he began working at the Juan March Foundation (based in Madrid), of which he was appointed director in 2003, a position he currently holds. He has brought together his philosophical work in two compilations: Tetralogía de la ejemplaridad and Filosofía mundana. He is also the author of Ingenuidad aprendida and La imagen de tu vida. He has written a theatrical trilogy that includes a dramatic monologue, Inconsolable, published in its entirety by El Mundo, and programmed by the Centro Dramático Nacional. For his first book, Imitación y experiencia, he won the National Literature Prize, Essay category, in 2004. He has won other prizes and awards (FIES Prize, ABC Cultural & Ámbito Cultural, Antonio Fontán, Líder Humanista 2018, etc.). He is a patron of the Teatro Real and the Teatro de La Abadía in Madrid. In 2012 and 2014 Foreign Policy magazine (in Spanish) included him in the list of the fifty most influential Ibero-American intellectuals. He has received several awards for his books; he has lectured in many Spanish institutions and in Italy, the United States, Chile and Argentina. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, cultural supplements and radio. He is considered by some to be the Ortega of the 21st century. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Revista de Estudios Orteguianos. Member of the International Visitors Program of the US State Department/USIA (2000).
He has written for the following newspapers, magazines and cultural supplements, among others: El Mundo, La Vanguardia, Nueva Revista de Política, Cultura y Arte, El País, Babelia, El País Semanal, ABC, ABC Cultural, El Cultural, Claves de Razón Práctica, Revista de Libros, La Razón, Revista de Occidente, Metrópolis, El Noticiero de la Ideas and Turia.

Joaquín Leguina holds a degree in Economics from the University of Bilbao. He holds a Master's degree in Demography from the Institute of Demography of the University of Paris (IDUP), a PhD in Economic Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid and a PhD in Human Sciences and Demography from the Sorbonne in Paris. He joined the Corps of Optional Statisticians of the National Institute of Statistics in 1969. He combined his teaching activity as Professor of Demography at the Universities of Madrid (1967-1978) and Santiago de Chile (1973-1974) with his professional activity as a consultant demographer in various organisations and companies: at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) in Paris; at the Institute of Education Sciences of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. He was the winner of the FOESSA Foundation project "Social Demography and Territorial Planning", and Director, between 1974 and 1978, of the reports on the Distribution of Income in Spain. He was a representative of the INE in the working groups on Demography and Statistics, within the UN, OECD and Council of Europe Conferences (1969-1973) and a United Nations official in CELADE (Economic Commission for Latin America) in Santiago de Chile (1973-1974). He has been a member of Madrid City Council (1979-1983); Secretary General of the Socialist Federation of Madrid (1979-1990) and Member of the Spanish Parliament (1982-1983), (1996-2008). He was President of the Community of Madrid from 1983 to 1995. He is the author of scientific articles and publications on statistics, social studies and economics in various journals. He has also written books related to his professional activity, such as "Fundamentos de Demografía" (1973) and "Estudio sobre la población española" (1972). He is the author of several literary works: short stories, novels (the latest is entitled "La luz crepuscular", Alfaguara. 2010) and essays, the most recent of which are: "Historia de un despropósito" (2013), "Los 10 mitos del nacionalismo catalán" (2014), both in Temas de Hoy.
He holds decorations in France, Chile and Spain.


On 30 October 2019, the Rafael del Pino Foundation hosted a dialogue entitled "A Project for Spain", with the participation of Ana Palacio, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Javier Gomá, Director of the Juan March Foundation, and Joaquín Leguina, former President of the Community of Madrid. The first to speak was Javier Gomá, who indicated that, if we have to ask about the essence of what is Spanish, we will have to turn to the history of Spain. In his opinion, in order to be able to respond, we need to recover our capacity for wonder about Spain's historical achievements. Among them, Gomá would highlight the Transition, which he described as a revolution that took place between 1975 and 1978. That revolution involved a sudden shift of sovereignty from the head of state to the people. The Transition is a revolution that improves on previous revolutions, such as the English, American, French and Russian revolutions. It improves on them because the Spanish Transition was carried out through the law, not through violence as in the other cases. In this way, Spain gave a late but excellent example of a peaceful revolution that signified Spain's coming of age as a modern country. Thanks to the Transition, life in Spain is better than ever. Parallel to economic progress, there was moral progress. By this we mean the replacement of the law of nature, which is the law of the strongest, with the law of love, which is the law of the weakest. This makes life better and more worth living. The paradox lies in the fact that, although we live in the best moment of history, a feeling of sadness, discontent, indignation, anger is spreading. This is because, as our sense of dignity becomes more and more important, the greater the number of things we find unacceptable. Finally, there is the problem of short-termism. Politicians are concerned with the four-year parliamentary term and companies with the annual balance sheet. So who takes care of the long term? This is where the importance of an enlightened citizenry comes in. A society that relies on a citizenry that is not well educated is not sustainable, even if it has good laws. If laws and institutions are not based on an enlightened society, everything is useless. An enlightened citizenry is, above all, a society that is aware of its dignity, that makes of its enlightened citizenry a good voter, that distinguishes between good and bad political parties, that discriminates between companies that have good practices and those that do not, that differentiates between media that help to form public opinion and those that try to manipulate the truth. Joaquín Leguina, former president of the Community of Madrid, then spoke, saying that the CVs of the current members of parliament are not as good as those of the members of parliament during the Transition. To fix this, the parties invented the primaries, which are a total fraud, because those who participate in them do not represent the party's electorate, but rather the most sectarian faction of the party. Moreover, once the leader is elected in a plebiscite, he or she takes over the party and eliminates those who are not with him or her. Spanish political leaders, moreover, are more navel-gazers than socially minded. They are incapable of reaching an agreement. They are incompetent and incapable of forming a government because they put their personal interests before those of society. This would be solved with a real party law, because parties have no obligations. Moreover, a person cannot be a representative of the citizens if he or she has never worked in his or her life. However, the percentage of representatives who have never worked is growing inexorably and, at this rate, it will reach one hundred percent. This is unacceptable. Therefore, we must demand rules within the parties, which must be democratic in their functioning and composition, because the assembly, plebiscitary system has nothing to do with democracy. The last to speak was Ana Palacio, former Minister of Foreign Affairs. In her opinion, we are not aware of the privilege of being Spanish. She also denounced the fact that today, in Spain, we have a relationship between citizens and the public authorities that increasingly resembles the relationship between a consumer and a service provider. The Transition, he said, was a major success and the role of the elites was seen in the reconciliation. There was an unspoken awareness. Moreover, Spaniards wanted to be like the rest of Europeans, not different from them. That meant being where we had always belonged, but with a democracy, because Spain was ontologically Europe and had contributed to shaping it since the Romans. Even so, we Spaniards need to see ourselves in the mirror of foreigners. This is part of the peculiarity of being Spanish. The three axes that have defined Spain are our anchorage in the Mediterranean basin, our being European and our overseas vocation, which is what defines Spanish genius. This must be taken into account in a project for Spain. This project is imbricated in a world that is in mutation. At the moment it is not clear what that mutation will bring. Therefore, we cannot seek to create any project without taking into account this changing world. In this context, discontent is nostalgia. As far as Europe is concerned, we are at a time when European construction is not projecting, it is not taking off. We are at an intergovernmental moment in which national interests are taking precedence. That is why we have to play the Mediterranean anchor, for example, with Africa, where we can play a fundamental role. Spain has to play its cards according to Spanish interests without losing sight of the fact that Spain is very pro-European. With respect to Spaniards, Ana Palacio is optimistic because the primary networks of relationships that have allowed us to get through the crisis much better than others have been preserved. Networks such as the family or neighbourhood relations. We are not English or French, nor will we ever be. What we need is to project self-esteem, but we have what it takes to create this national project, which must be linked to young people. But we must bear in mind that a project will never be attractive to one hundred percent of society. What it has to be is attractive to a majority.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.