Guadalupe Sanchez Baena has a degree in Law from the University of Alicante. After combining his studies with internships in multidisciplinary firms, in 2004 he founded his own law firm, GM Legal Experts, which he continues to direct today. Known as an activist on social networks for her defense of the presumption of innocence, procedural guarantees and judicial independence, she combines her work as a lawyer and director of the firm with collaborations in the press and has just presented her book Punitive Populism (Deusto, 2020).
What is punitive populism
–Populism burst into the political arena with the end of the crisis, around 2014, and showed that Spanish society not only has a great lack of financial knowledge, but also other basic knowledge. It is a moralization of everything public and even private, to create a dichotomy between what is good and what is bad. And it is defined by the identification of the politician with the popular will against the elites. This popular will enables the populist to colonize the institutions and make use of the legal tools that allow him to gain a foothold in power. The most precious of all of them is the ius punendi, which is the capacity of the State to legitimately exercise violence.
-For example
-We are told that a new law seeks to prevent sexist attacks as if there had been impunity until now, which is false. Spain is one of the safest countries to be a woman. Punitive populism has a markedly identity cut. It collectivizes the victims at the cost of criminalizing another group. We had seen it with the cases on national identity but what is new now is that it is being done with the genre. This is a Trojan horse to strain anti-system ideologies.
-You are very critical of the reactions against the sentence to the Pack.
– Populists take advantage of society’s lack of legal knowledge to create an alarm around a tragic event. In the case of the Pack, it was very significant. I am not critical of the resolutions. The victim herself declared that she did not feel intimidated. The question was to elucidate whether that subjective feeling of the victim implied that there was intimidation, or apart from what she felt, the intimidation existed by the mere fact of being several people. Instead of explaining that, each and every sentence was misrepresented. First, the one that sentenced them to nine years for a crime of abuse. I remember Irene Montero saying in Congress that the judge who issued the dissenting vote had a particular problem. She lied to herself to create a breeding ground. Worse still was when the Supreme Court revoked the sentence on the understanding that there had been intimidation, regardless of what the victim said. Instead of admitting that they had been wrong, what they did was worse, when Carmen Calvo and Irene Montero said that they were very happy that the Supreme Court had agreed with them. It is a mistake because they were implying that they have a kind of ascendancy over the Supreme.
–Is it true that with the draft reform of the Criminal Code managed by the Government, the sentence of the Pack would have been lower
–Yes. With the hodgepodge of types, it is entirely possible that the Pack’s convicts would not only have received a lesser sentence, but that a sentence modification resulting in a reduced sentence may apply to prisoners already convicted. I mean, the lords of the Pack could benefit from that. If they wanted to prevent the discretion of the judges, it will be the opposite.
–In your book Punitive Populism (Deusto, 2020) you also deal with right-wing populism. In what is it manifested
-It manifests itself with the same legal and discursive weapons as left-wing feminist populism, but it does so with immigration. For example, Pilar Llop, the president of the Senate, said in 2018 that there was no democracy in Spain because 50% of the population, men, exercise violence against the other 50% of the population. Shortly after, Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros said that immigrants committed rape three times more than Spaniards. Both resort to the same arguments. But the fact is that if we analyze the statistics in absolute terms, only one of every 10,000 Spaniards has been convicted of a crime of sexual assault, and only three of every 10,000 foreigners have been convicted of a crime of these characteristics. Populism always tries to put the focus outside of politics when the problem is in politics.
–Does populism arise from intantilism

–Yes, and from rampant state paternalism. We have reached a point where society has ended up assuming that rights and freedoms do not belong to us, but are provided by the State.
–What do you think of the phrase that children do not belong to their parents
–It is evident that they are not a property with which parents can do what they want. But if the child does not belong to the parents, it does not belong to the State either. The child is a subject of law, not an object.

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