La casa de papel, or in English Money Heist is a popular Spanish series about incredible robberies done by the team of criminals led by El Professor. As the fifth season of this attractive series has been aired recently, a new song in the final episode has drawn everybody's attention. Spoiler alert! A thematic song of the whole season which was highlighted in the scenes of the death of one of our favourite characters (not mine though) Tokyo has left many wonder which song is that.
Besides the Bella Ciao which became the trademark song of the Netflix series, season five has brought to us a new old hit. Bella Ciao was the song of Italian left-wing resistance movements during World War II, and the Money Heist has brought it to life in a way. However, the new song in the latest season is not Italian nor it is from the time of WWII. Trademark song of this season is a Portuguese song from the 1970s. The new song is not Italian, nor was it composed during the war. But the aim of this blog is to reveal the history of Grandola Vila Morena, which is the name of the song, why is it important and why series directors decided to add it to the show.
Grandola Vila Morena is a song written by Portuguese song-writer and singer José Afonso and recorded in 1971. What makes this song interesting is its political background. Namely, the song became iconic in Portugal after being used as a radio broadcast signal by the Portuguese Armed Forces Movement during their military coup operation in 1974. The broadcast of this song on the radio was a signal for the Armed Forces Movement, which was composed of military officers who opposed the authoritarian regime, to start the coup and the revolution in Lisbon. The revolution was successful, and Grandola Vila Morena played an important role in coordinating its begging. The Carnation Revolution, as it was called later because of Celeste Caeiro - a famous pacifist, offering carnations to the soldiers when the population took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship. The song has since been considered a symbol of the revolution and anti-fascism.
From this point of view, it can be said that Grandola Vila Morena has had a very important historical role. It marked the begging of the transition of Portugal towards democracy and what it is today, a modern developed state - a member of the European Union. Having in mind all previous songs that have been picked for the series, it is not strange why Grandola Vila Morena was chosen for the latest season. Its anti-fascist sentiment and revolutionary legacy perfectly fit the concept of the series.
Lastly, we are looking forward to watching the second part of season five in December, when it is announced to air...
Enjoy the official #LaCasaDePapel video featuring highlights of Season 5 with #GrandolaVilaMorena in the background
If you enjoyed reading this text while drinking a cup of your favourite coffee, feel free to buy me the one!
Democracy, or maybe better to say liberal
democracy, is the most popular type of polity set-up world-wide in 21st
century. After the third wave of democratization, as Huntington (1991) coined
it, the highest number of states in the world are considered democracies. The
countries from the Balkans have been part of the third wave of democratization.
Although all Western Balkans states fulfil
minimum requirements to be qualified as democracies, that does not
automatically imply high quality of democracy. Except Croatia, all other
Western Balkans states were designated as transitional or hybrid regimes by
Freedom House Nations in Transit Report (2020). Montenegro and Serbia have changed category
from a semi-consolidated democracies in the previous reports, and all countries
together have recorded lower democracy scores. There are different explanations
for the democratic backslide in the Western Balkans.
The European Union is the most famous external
promoter of democracy among the Balkans’ countries. However, there are negative
external actors which promote autocracy, also called “Black Knights” (Tolstrup,
2014). The most famous Black Knight is Russia in who’s interest is to support
authoritarian leaders. Tolstrup gives two distinct modus operandi of
Black Knights: by boosting various material and strategic resources available
to the autocrat or by undergirding and solidifying regime legitimacy (Tolstrup,
2014: 4). Russia was present in the Balkans also, most notably in the case of
Serbia. Aleksandar Vučić current President, and former Prime Minister of
Serbia, has built very good relationship with Russian president Putin. Vučić enjoyed endorsement by Putin in several elections, which enabled him to show
his invincibility to the electorate. However, not only authoritarian regimes
are black knights, Tolstrup notes that “democratic external actors may also
behave as black knights” (2014: 4). In the case of Serbia, Vucic has also few
times got the endorsement from Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel who organized
high-profile meeting with Vučić a day before presidential elections in Serbia
in 2017. on which Vucic was the candidate. This meeting made an impression to
the electorate of Vucic’s invincibility and his policy with no alternative.
These are all elements Tolstrup mentions in his article. In the same manner the
EU member state supported authoritarian rule of Milo Đukanović in Montenegro.
Nevertheless, many authors described support for authoritarian leaders in the
Balkans as EU’s policy for ‘stabilitocracy’.
On the other hand, neighboring states of Bosnia, namely Serbia and Croatia, have been accused as black knights undermining Bosnian statehood and reform struggles (Igman Initiative 2020). Serbian government is keeping good relations with the Republika Srpska while Croatia is supporting creation of the third entity within Bosnia, which would be Croatian. This would for sure lead towards more deeper cleavages and maybe even disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Leadership of the Republika Srpska is constantly threatening that they would leave Bosnia and become independent state, Milorad Dodik, recently elected for Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina refuses to use official flag of the state, Croats lobbying for the third entity – all of these show how divided Bosnia is. It is so divided that its functionality is questionable quarter of century after its creation. When there is no functionality within the state, we cannot talk about the quality of democracy at all.
In the end, the Balkans region was never known for the high levels of democracy in its history. However, from the break-up of Yugoslavia, successor states have been recording improvement when it comes to the quality of democracy, until recently. Esen is arguing that Turkey is part of global democratic backslide and classifies it as a competitive authoritarian regime (Esen & Gumuscu, 2016: 1582). For him, competitive authoritarian states are not autocratic regimes, but they are not democracies either. They are somewhere in between. These states have competition among the political actors, but the competition is not fair. Other elements of competitive authoritarianism are: uneven media access, politicized state institutions, uneven access to resources, and violations of civil liberties (Esen & Gumuscu, 2016: 1585-1594). Observed states from the Balkans in this paper show same elements of competitive authoritarianism. Some of them more and some less. Therefore, we can also put Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia in the group of countries that recorded democratic backslide in past decade. Huntington in his famous theory on waves of democratization has also identified waves of de-democratization after first two waves of democratization. Maybe current global democratic backslide can be seen as third wave of de-democratization.