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:: Coming Political Events in Spain

Parliament of Andalusia

Although in principle his term in office could have lasted until March 2012, in late July 2011 the Spanish Prime Minister, JL Rodríguez-Zapatero (Socialist Party), called a General Election for 20th November 2011. Mr Zapatero, who will not seek a third term, said his decision would allow the new government to start work as soon as possible on addressing the acute economic crisis facing Spain. The Opposition party, the People’s Party (PP), which was strengthened by its significant victories in the elections in many Autonomous Communities, cities and towns last May, had been calling on Mr Zapatero to call early elections.

The opinion polls do not provide much hope for the Socialists, even though their candidate, Mr. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, former First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs in Zapatero's government, is quite well considered by citizens. Recent polls by the government's Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) and by Metroscopia find that although citizens seem to think highly of Mr Rubalbaca (or at least that they think better of him than they do of Mr. Zapatero and of Mr Rajoy, the PP's candidate), the majority intend to vote for the PP. In the CIS poll, the Socialists score 36% and the PP 43.1%, and in the Metroscopia poll, the Socialists 30.8% and the PP 44.8%.

CIS Poll (#2909)
Metroscopia Poll
Poll gives Spain's PP a 14 point lead on ruling party, The Guardian, Reuters, July 31st.
You've only got to put up with me for four more months, The Economist.
Early Spanish General Election Set for November 20th, CNA Catalan News Agency, July 29th.

Self-government in Spain: Recent Developments

The Constitutional Reform: the Introduction of a Constitutional Limit on the Structural Public Deficit
Last September 2nd the Spanish Parliament amended the Spanish Constitution. The reform was addressed to establish a Constitutional limit on the structural public deficit. The development of its concrete terms would be the matter of an organic law (a reinforced-majority piece of legislation reserved for the development of certain constitutional matters).

Although the importance of the reform certainly refers to its content, as a matter of facts its purpose was nowhere near as controversial as the means by which the reform was implemented.

First of all and in order to understand the debate, one has to take into account that constitutional reforms have been treated by most political parties as a complete taboo. Apart from its institutional role, the Constitution has been understood as a symbol of the large but also fragile political consensus that featured the Spanish transition to the democracy and brought about a political and societal funding pact. Thus, the idea of its reform has been largely perceived (but also made be perceived) as a threat to the fragile equilibrium and complex consensus forged during the Transition; as a consequence, the issue has been explicitly kept out of the political agenda. Only one reform has been passed since its establishment: the inclusion of political rights for EU citizens following the requirements derived from the Treaty of Maastricht, and it was passed by unanimity.

Thus, in these circumstances, in mid August, the Spanish Government announced its intention to introduce a constitutional limit of public deficit, following the German experience. In a record time, the reform was agreed exclusively between the Socialist Party and the PP at a central level, to the complete exclusion of all other parliamentary parties, of the Autonomous Communities and of the citizens themselves (arguments that such a constitutional reform should be put to a referendum were rejected).

The reform proposal was passed by the Congreso (lower chamber) with the votes of the Socialists, PP and Navarra's regionalist party members (316 votes in favour). Some parliamentary groups refused to take part of the voting (the Catalan and Basque moderate nationalists) and some others, as a sign of protest, left the parliament at the moment of the voting (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, Iniciativa per Catalunya-Izquierda Unida, Bloque Nacionalista Galego and Nafarroa Bai. Votes against came form the Canarian nationalists, the Spanish nationalists (Unión, Progreso y Democracia) and 2 members of he Socialist party. Outside the parliamentary arenas and showing its contempt for both the content and, specially, the means the reform was implemented, the Government of Catalonia announced that the reform should to be understood as the breaking off the constitutional pact.

Constitutional Reform (in Spanish)

More information

BBC News: "Spain moves closer to constitutional budget deficit cap", August 30th.
CNA Catalan News Agency: "Spain's two main parties agree on a constitutional amendment without the explicit support from other parties", August 28th.
See more on the CNA Catalan News Agency's section on the Constitutional Amendment.

The Effects of the Economic Crisis on Self-government
At the beginning of the economic crisis, most analyses showed that the crisis and its policy effects were not having any direct influence on the debate on the nature of self-government itself. Recent events have changed this situation dramatically: the political measures that Central Government has adopted to address the crisis have implied increasing centralization which has thus had a direct and negative effect on self-government, and which has clearly linked the political and social debate about the crisis to the debate on self-government by the autonomous communities.

Although the clearest example of these measures is the recent reform of the Constitution that has been mentioned above, another key example was the ruling of the Spanish Constitutional Court in July 2011 that Central Government has the power to establish limits on the spending of the Autonomous Communities through the establishment of compulsory objectives of budgetary stability. This ruling referred to an appeal against the Spanish law on budgetary stability (2001) which had been made by the Parliament of Catalonia.

The economic crisis has reignited debate on self-government in Spain because it has made it clearer than ever that self-government is highly constricted by the Autonomous Communities' economic dependence on Central Government resources. Such dependence is perceived by some as limitations which are necessary in order to address the economic crisis, and by others as the main obstacle in allowing solutions to be found.

In purely practical terms, the very high level of debt at all levels of public administration has resulted in debates on self-government being focussed on economic efficiency and the simplification of public administration.

Some argue that one cause, or even the main cause, of these debt problems is the level of spending of the Autonomous Communities. Thus, the re-centralization of powers to Central Government and the tightening of controls on the spending of the Autonomous Communities are seen as key elements in dealing with the economic crisis. As a consequence, the Autonomous Communities, which have to meet the costs of delivering basic welfare services (their powers include healthcare, primary and secondary education, and social services), have seen Central Government postpone and cut its intergovernmental transfers. It has even claimed back the difference between the sums it advanced in respect of the 2010 income tax yields and the sums finally collected. In this sense, it is hardly surprising that the Presidents of some Autonomous Communities have said that they would like powers on education and health to be re-centralized to Central Government.

From other perspectives, however, dependence on revenue from Central Government is seen as the main handicap for both the development of self-government and for economic recovery. The strangling effects that economic dependence has on the political margin of manoeuvre of the Autonomous Communities, together with the dramatic influence that Spanish internal politics has on Central Government's policy decisions affecting the territory (location infrastructures, research policy), leave territorial economic and social needs in a secondary position.

In this sense, the Catalan Parliament has established a Committee to develop a proposal for a new system of financing for Catalonia, which is to be inspired by the independent tax systems already in place in Navarre and the Basque Country (in these two Autonomous Communities taxes are raised directly and then some of this money is transferred to Central Government).

Such considerations are also influencing the growing distance between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. Recent polls carried out in Catalonia have for the first time asked questions about a hypothetical referendum for the independence of Catalonia. 42.9% of respondents said they would vote in favour (compared with 20.2% who would vote against and 23.3% who would abstain), and among all the reasons given by those who say they would vote in favour, economic and fiscal arguments predominate: 36.4% of those who say they would vote in favour of independence cite economic reasons (in order to increase economic and fiscal autonomy); the second most popular reason (that the Spanish do not understand the Catalans) was given by 13.6%.

Link to the Spanish Constitutional Court's decision (in Spanish)

Documents and debates
In order to promote understanding and debate on the Catalan and Spanish political context, we have selected some articles in English which, from different angles, deal with the current debates on the economic crisis and self-government in Spain.

Catalan News Agency
- The Spanish Government has 76% of Spain's total public debt, while the Autonomous Community share is “only” 17%
- Full fiscal autonomy for Catalonia in exchange for a “permanent and stable ally”, July 22nd
IT In-Transit
- The Spanish Fiscal Deficit Crisis, issue # 4
Financial Times
- The ties that bind Catalonia, Pankaj Ghemawat, June 16th
The Economist
- Split personality. How vulnerable is Spain? The answer depends on which Spain you mean, July 7th
- Regions to be worried. Local autonomy makes it harder to cut the budget deficit, April 2011

Autonomous-Community Elections, May 2011

The Catalan Parliament holds a CALRE’s working session on the participation of regional parliaments in the development of European legislative acts
On September the 19th, the Catalan Parliament held a seminar of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE). CALRE was established in 1997 with the purpose of promoting the relations of regional parliaments and the European Commission.

On this September meeting, CALRE emphasized that regional parliaments with legislative powers should participate in the processes of development of European-level norms. The focus of attention was addressed to Protocol 2 of the Lisbon Treaty on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality which establishes that “before proposing legislative acts, the Commission shall consult widely. Such consultations shall, where appropriate, take into account the regional and local dimension of the action envisaged. In cases of exceptional urgency, the Commission shall not conduct such consultations, it shall give reasons for its decision in its proposal”.

This point compels the European Commission to do what it had always been doing for pragmatic reasons: to consult a wide variety of actors during the process of drafting legislative proposals. Thus, the introduction of compulsory consultations is an open window to the participation of regions and local authorities in the processes of development of legislative proposals. In this sense, given the large institutional diversity and jurisdictional asymmetry of the different EU regions, the crucial issue that both the EU Commission and the regions have to face is how to articulate and implement the consultation process.

Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Poportionality, Lisbon Treaty.

The Association of Regional Legislative Assemblies of the EU asks to participate in the drafting of European directives, Catalan News Agency

Catalan Parliament News

Autonomous-Community Elections, May 2011

On 22nd May 2011, elections took place in 13 out of the 17 Autonomous Communities, as well as in all local governments in Spain. From a general perspective, these elections resulted in a dramatic defeat for the socialists, who are in office at central level, and a clear victory for the conservative Opposition, the Popular Party (PP). The PP obtained the overall majority of seats in 8 of these 13 Autonomous Communities, with an average share of vote of 50% (ranging from 59% in Murcia to 46% in Cantabria - see Map 2). It retained or strengthened its overall majorities in Madrid, Valencia, Murcia, Castilla y Léon, Cantabria and La Rioja, and it gained control of the Balearic Islands and Castilla-La Mancha (the latter traditionally being a socialist stronghold). In 3 other autonomous communities (Aragon, Extremadura and the Canary Islands) the PP was the most-voted party but did not obtain the majority of seats, and so government formation will entirely depend on further coalitions and parliamentary agreements which might or might not include the PP.

The contrast between the political maps before and after the elections is striking: before the elections, of the 17 Autonomous Communities, the Socialists were in government in 7 and the PP in 6. After 22nd May, the Socialists rule in only 3 (two of which - Andalusia and the Basque Country - did not hold elections in May) and the PP now controls 9, in 6 of which it has an absolute majority. Maps 1 and 2 illustrate this sharp contrast in the political situations before and after the elections.

Map 1. Pre-elections: Governmental Map
Map 2. Post-elections: Governmental Map

For political data on the autonomous-community governments from the 1980s to nowadays, click here. You will find information about dates, type of government, parties in government, parliamentary composition, motions and questions of confidence, names of the autonomous-community premiers from the first to the current governmental terms... Links to official gazettes when available.

Following the elections, we have updated the contents of the IEA Facts Sheets on the autonomous communities. The sheets are available in our web site, in the section The Autonomous Communities: Political Map. Click here for a direct access.

:: Compilations

Autonomous-Community Legislation

of the Bilateral Commissions

Bilateral commissions are intergovernmental bilateral bodies composed by representatives of both Central Government and the Autonomous Communities. In this sense, there are 17 bilateral commissions, one for each Autonomous Community.

The commissions were created in the late 1980 and their function is mainly addressed to be a negotiation forum that could avoid further formal constitutional conflicts brought before the Constitutional Court. Thus, bilateral commissions meet when one of the parts considers that a piece of legislation passed by the other part poses constitutional questions. The agreements reached at the bilateral commissions are, thus, indicators of levels of intergovernmental relations and conflict.

Full data on the bilateral commissions are available at our database.

Spanish Constitutional Court

Appeals of Unconstitucionality
Appeals against Autonomous-Community Laws Lodged by Central Government Institutions (April-July 2011)
Appeals against Spanish Laws Lodged by the Autonomous Communities (April-July 2011)

Conflicts on Distribution of Powers
Conflicts on Distribution of Powers Lodged by Autonomous Communities

Recent Polls
Centre d'Estudis de Opinió (CEO). Generalitat of Catalonia
Baròmetre d'Opinió Pública (BOP). 2ª onada 2011

Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas
Estudio 2907. Debate sobre el Estado de la Nación
Estudio 2905. Barómetro junio 2011
Estudio 2888. Barómetro mayo 2011
Estudio 2885. Barómetro abril 2011
Estudio 2882. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. La Rioja
Estudio 2881. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Navarra
Estudio 2880. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Región de Murcia
Estudio 2879. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Extremadura
Estudio 2878. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Castilla y León
Estudio 2877. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Castilla-La Mancha
Estudio 2876. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Cantabria
Estudio 2875. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Canarias
Estudio 2874. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas 2011. Illes Balears
Estudio 2872. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas y Municipales 2011. Comunidad Valenciana
Estudio 2871. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas y Municipales 2011. Comunidad de Madrid
Estudio 2870. Preelectoral Elecciones Autonómicas y Municipales 2011. Aragón
Estudio 2857. Postelectoral de Cataluña. Elecciones autonómicas 2010

Gabinete de Prospección Sociológica. Gobierno Vasco
Sociómetro Vasco 46. Políticas Públicas. July 2011
Sondeo postelectoral de Elecciones a Juntas Generales y Municipales 2011. Jun 2011
Análisis Postelectoral de Elecciones a Juntas Generales y Municipales 2011. May 2011.

:: Events and Seminars Recently Organized at the IEA

Map of Nwe France 1612 by Samuel Champlain (157?-1635)

Forthcoming seminars and conferences
Conference by Prof. Guy Laforest (Université de Laval) and Prof. Alain Gagnon (Université de Québec): Present and Future of Canadian Federalism: a View from Quebec
October 17th, 12 pm.

Seminar: Com vincula la jurisprudència constitucional els legisladors? [How does constitutional case-law bind the legislative power?]
October 28th, 10 am.

Seminar: Drets lingüístics, de debò? Els drets lingüístics en les actuacions administratives i en determinades activitats supervisades per les administracions [Seminar on linguistic rights and its actual implementatation by public administrations].
December 2nd, 9.30 am.

Recent events and seminars

:: IEA Grants

Palau Centelles, IEA Buiding (detail)

In the framework of the IEA annual call for grants, researchers deliver a report (in an article format) which is then catalogued in the IEA Bibliographic and Documentary Holding. Although most of the reports are written in Catalan and Spanish, we thought that it would be of the interest of the scientific community to have access to them. Here you have a list of links to the recently submitted reports (full text); they refer to the 2010 Call for Grants.

CEREIJO SOTO, ANTONIO. Una justícia pròxima i eficaç des de les Comunitats Autònomes: el Rechtspfleger

CUYÁS PALAZÓN, Mª. MERCEDES. La gestió aeroportuària a França. Un model desitjable a Catalunya?

DONAIRE VILLA, FRANCISCO JAVIER. Las normas con fuerza de ley de las Comunidades Autònomas: las figuras del Decreto legislativo y el Decreto-ley autonómicos

GARCÍA MARTÍNEZ, ANDRÉS. La autonomía tributaria de las entidades federadas en Bélgica

MATAS DALMASES, JORDI. El perfil polític dels consellers dels governs de Jordi Pujol (1980-2003)

RUSSO, ANNA MARGHERITA. La linkage adaptation en la multi-layered European Constitution: las dinámicas asimétrico-relacionales del pluralismo territorial español en perspectiva comparada. ¿Hacia un regionalismo de integración?

SOLÉ OLLÉ, Albert. The political economy of partial fiscal decentralization: theory and empirical evidence.

VILALTA REIXACH, MARC. L'encàrrec de gestió i els mecanismes de col·laboració entre Administracions Públiques

:: IEA Publications

Palau Centelles, IEA Buiding (detail)

Revista d'Estudis Autonòmics i Federals (IEA Journal)

New issues
Last issue: # 13

All issues can be found on the REAF webpage.

Researches who wish to send originals may do so by electronic mail to: All articles undergo anonymous evaluation (double blind system).

La projecció de la potestat subvencional sobre la distribució competencial
Aida Torres Pérez
"Institut d'Estudis Autonòmics" Collection, #75

Instituciones y competencias en los estados descentralizados
Institutions and powers in decentralized countries
Enric Argullol i Murgadas, Clara Isabel Velasco Rico (dirs.)
"Institut d'Estudis Autonòmics" Collection, #76

Political Liberalism and Plurinational Democracies
Ferran Requejo, Miquel Caminal (eds.)
In coedition with Routledge

Anàlisi del federalisme, i altres textos
Daniel J. Elazar
"Clàssics del Federalisme" Collection

Jurisprudències constitucionals sobre drets lingüístics: princis i criteris
Seminari. Barcelona, 21 d'octubre de 2010
Antoni Milian Massana
"Institut d'Estudis Autonòmics" Collection, #77

Descentralización y control electoral de los gobiernos en España
Ignacio Lago Peñas, Santiago Lago Peñas
"Con(Textos)A" Collection, 14

Los sistemas electorales autonómicos
Joan Oliver Araujo
"Con(Textos)A" Collection, 15

:: Documentary and Bibliographic Holdings

Documents of the Documentary Holding

Documentary and Bibliographic Holdings data base search.
New holdings.

New holdings. Summaries of articles from Spanish and foreign magazines.

For any queries concerning the data base of the Documentary Collection, contact Ms. Maite Batalla ( - Telephone 933 429 806).

:: Recent Publications of Interest

Federalism in Australia
Pollux Aevariste Kjeld, Betascript Publishing, 2011 (ISBN 978-6135713886).

El blindaje de las normas forales fiscales
Juan Manuel Criado Gámez (dir.), María Esther Martínez Aguirre (coord.), Iustel, Gobierno de la Rioja, 2011 (ISBN 978-84-9890-147-4).

La interpretación de la Constitución por el Tribunal Constitucional
Juan José González Rivas, Civitas, 2011 (ISBN 978-84-470-3614-1).

The Const¡tut¡on of Germany: a contextual analysis
Werner Heun, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2011 (ISBN 978-1841138688).

Las diferencias regionales del sector público español
Francisco Pérez García, Bilbao: Fundación BBVA, 2011. (ISBN 9788492937097).

European Economic and Social Constitutionalism after the Treaty of Lisbon
Dagmar Schiek, Ulrike Liebert, Hildegard Schneider (editors), Cambridge University Press, 2011 (ISBN 978-1107006812).

La selección de jueces en Estados Unidos
Rosario Serra Cristóbal, Madrid: Civitas, 2011 (ISBN 978-84-470-3597-7).

The foundat¡ons of publ¡c law: pr¡nc¡ples and problems of power ¡n the Brit¡sh Const¡tut¡on
Keith Syrett, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011 (ISBN 978-0230236431).

Federalism and Economic Reform: International Perspectives
Jessica Wallack, T. N. Srinivasan (editors), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011 (ISBN 978-1107402546).

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