Conference participants debate the federal features of Spain

Francisco Rubio Llorente, President of the State Council of Spain, prepares to present at a conference on the federalization of Spain.

The Forum of Federations’ president and its co-founder recently joined federalism experts from Canada, Germany and Switzerland in Zaragoza recently to share their knowledge of intergovernmental relations with their Spanish counterparts.

The conference on the federalization of Spain was co-organized by the Forum with the Gimenez Abad and Friedrich-Ebert Foundations.

Forum president George Anderson and Forum co-founder, Prof. Ronald Watts, each gave a presentation at the event.

Spain does not consider itself a federation as such, but it shares many features of federal states.

But unlike some established federations, Spain lacks institutions and mechanisms for promoting cooperation between what is called its "autonomous communities,” which are the equivalent of states or provinces in federal countries.

Forum President George Anderson gave an address titled the Political Relevance of Federalism in the 21 Century.

Mr. Anderson suggested that "federalism and federal experiences will be even more relevant in the Twentieth-First century than they have been in the past” due to the spread of democracy around the world.

"The Twenty-First Century may well see significant developments in terms of sovereign states coming together,” Mr. Anderson said. "This could include the deepening of regional arrangements that already exist or the invention of new ones.”

Mr. Anderson observed that "some of these regional arrangements, including here in Europe, may evolve in a federal direction and even become recognized as federations.”

Prof. Watts also spoke, posing the question "Is Spain a Multinational Federation in Disguise?”

And the professor answered the question, noting that Spain "has come to exhibit the basic structures and processes typical of federations.”

Other international experts at the event included Prof. Benoît Pelletier, University of Ottawa (Canada); Prof. Luzius Mader, Federal Department of Justice (Switzerland); Dr. Walter Moser, Conference of Cantonal Governments (Switzerland); Prof. Arthur Benz, University of Hagen (Germany); and Dirk Brouër, Bundesrat (Germany).

The conference took place on Mar. 27 28, 2009 at the Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza. In the future, a book containing conference papers and case studies will be produced.

Participants included Antonio Arroyo, Associated Professor of Constitutional Law, Autonomous University of Madrid, Foundation Democracy and Local Government; Nuria Garrido Cuenca, Professor of Administrative Law, University of Albacete; Juan Carlos Gavara de Cara, Professor of Constitutional Law, Autonomous University Barcelona; David Ortega Gutiérrez, Member of the National Executive Council; Luis Alberto Pomed Sánchez, Lawyer at the Spanish Constitutional Court and Professor of Administrative Law, University of Zaragoza; Tomás de la Quadra-Salcedo Janini, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, Autonomous University of Madrid; José María Giral Monter, Director General of Inter-Institutional Relations of the Government of Aragon; Agustín Ruiz Robledo, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Granada; Juan Huguet Rotger, Senator of the Autonomous Community Balearic Islands; Eva Saenz Royo, Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Zaragoza; Adolfo Barrena Salces, Member of the Federal Executive of the United Left; Manuel Silva Sánchez, Executive Vice-President of the Parliamentary Co-ordination, Unió Democràtica de Catalunya; Bizén Fuster Santaliestra, Member of the Parliamentary Group CHA in the Parliament of Aragon; Javier Allué Sus, Speaker of the Parliamentary Group of the Aragonese Regional Party in the Parliament of Aragon; Ignacio Villaverde, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Oviedo; Beniamino Caravita di Toritto, Professor of Public Law, University of La Sapienza, Roma; Claudio Tuciarelli, Chief of Cabinet of the Minister for Public Administration, Government of Italy and François Voeffray, Counsellor of Political and Legal Affairs, Swiss Embassy in Madrid.

Read George Anderson’s presentation on Federalism in the 21st Century

Read Prof. Ronald Watts’ presentation: "Spain: A multinational federation in disguise?” (PDF)

Read Dr. Arthur Benz’s paper on intergovernmental relations in German federalism.


View photos from the event:

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