Pedro Sánchez calls for a new social contract against inequality and exclusion to defend democracy from the dangers that threaten it

President's News - 2021.12.9

Moncloa Palace, Madrid

The objectives of the Summit are to promote commitments and initiatives to strengthen democracies in the face of authoritarianism, fight corruption and promote human rights, as well as to listen and speak honestly about the challenges that threaten democracy both globally and within participating countries.

All heads of state or government had been asked to participate via a pre-recorded video, but President Biden also invited President Sánchez and a small number of other leaders to take the floor live and actively participate in the plenary talks.

During his speech, Pedro Sánchez called for "the adoption of a new social contract" to combat inequality and exclusion. Strengthening - with a "fair and inclusive recovery" - the mechanisms of social dialogue, with transparency and accountability in the face of "the most urgent challenges" - accelerated by COVID - that currently "threaten" our democracies.

"Democracy has proven to be the most effective political system for bringing peace and prosperity to our societies," the President said. "However, in recent years we have witnessed numerous attempts to undermine our democratic systems".

In this context, Sánchez pointed out that the first thing is to tackle the "growing disaffection" of citizens towards public institutions. Discontent leads to polarisation and the rise of populism, which deeply erode respect for democratic values and principles. "If we are to regain confidence in our system, we must ensure that our institutions respond to the real needs of the people".

It is about democracies "delivering in terms of social inclusion" and reducing "existing economic and social divides, especially now, as we face the ecological and digital transitions". And to do so guided "by a sense of solidarity" both within and beyond our borders and "also with future generations".

"As a State, we have an obligation to adopt policies that have a real impact on people's daily lives, on their wages, on their access to housing, to universal and quality education and healthcare.

Pedro Sánchez advocates promoting "political participation" by citizens, "transparency and accountability" on the part of public officials through open government measures "that bring us ever closer" to citizens. Spain is committed to innovative methodologies, such as the Accountability Unit, which has been set up to carefully, objectively and publicly monitor each of the government's commitments, "holding us accountable if we fail to deliver".

One dimension in which democracy has particular room for growth is the "full and equal participation of women" in political, economic, social and cultural life. "We cannot prosper as societies and call ourselves true democracies if we do not grant equal rights and opportunities to 100% of our population. More equality means better democracies.

In addition, the President expressed his "deep concern" about disinformation, which "undermines human rights and the quality and stability of our democracies". Phenomena such as cybersecurity breaches, the misuse of artificial intelligence, the trafficking of personal data or the rise of hate speech on social networks "increase our vulnerability".

Spain has recently adopted a Digital Rights Charter to address these issues, giving the Government "innovative" practical guidance to "guarantee" the protection of human rights in the digital environment.

Pedro Sánchez stressed that, in the face of all these challenges, "democracy is under threat" and must be defended everywhere and at all times. "We need to actively defend it. It is a fragile and vulnerable system that cannot be taken for granted. We cannot forget the lessons of the past. We have a duty to protect and strengthen the legacy of generations of men and women who came before us and gave their all for democracy and freedom. There are no racial, cultural, historical or anthropological reasons to justify the mutilation of freedom. Democracy is not a gift we have been given, but a long and hard historical conquest that we must cherish and protect.

Non official translation