Not everyone agrees if Spain is a federation, but most concur it has many federal features

Participants in Global Dialogue roundtable on intergovernmental relations in Spain included (left to right) Xavier Arbós, María Jesús García Morales, Carles Viver and Miguel �ngel Cabellos

While Spain’s constitution does not define the country as federal, the decentralized nature of its government makes intergovernmental relations a highly relevant issue.

Intergovernmental relations among a country’s states, provinces and other subnational units are noteworthy because they are indicative of the level of interaction and collaboration among a federation’s constituent units.

This was the topic of discussion of at a recent Forum roundtable, part of its Global Dialogue on Federalism series, where 35 Spanish government officials, academics and federalism experts hashed out the issue.
In 1978, Spain enacted a new constitution that allowed some provinces and territories the right to self-government. By 1986, 17 so called "autonomous communities” had been created (as set out in the Statutes of Autonomy governing the communities). Also, two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, were granted autonomous status by the Spanish Parliament. While use of the term "federal” is often controversial in Spain, many federalism experts maintain that Spain meets the basic criteria to be considered a federation.
Participants at the roundtable discussed relations between the central government and the autonomous communities and issues between the autonomous communities themselves.

The combination of bilateral and multilateral relations between the central government and the autonomous communities was the most controversial topic of the day. In the end though, participants agreed that there are lively intergovernmental relations among Spain’s constituent units, which is a positive outcome of the country’s decentralization process.

The roundtable, held at the Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics in Barcelona on March 23, 2009, was coordinated by María Jesús García Morales of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Participants included: Carles Viver, Director of the Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; Pedro Aguiló, Government of the Balearic Islands; Eliseo Aja, University of Barcelona; Enoch Albertí, University of Barcelona; Pere Almeda, Government of Catalonia; Xavier Arbós, University of Girona; Xavier Bernadí, Government of Catalonia; Miguel Ã?ngel Cabellos, Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; César Colino, UNED; Jordi Conde, Government of Catalonia; Mercè Corretja, Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; Xavier de Pedro, Government of Aragon; Francisco del Río, Government of Andalusia; Jesús Divassón, Government of Aragon; Rosa-Felicitat Escrihuela, Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; Ã?ngeles García Frías, Constitutional Court; María Jesús García Morales, Autonomous University of Barcelona; Mireia Grau, Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; Juan José López Burniol, Notary public; Diana Mampel, Government of Catalonia; Elena Marquesán, Government of Aragon; Gerard Martín, Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; Helena Mora, Institut d’Estudis Autonòmics; José Marí, Parliament of the Comunidad Valenciana; Francisco Peña, Spanish Senate; Begoña Pérez de Eulate, Government of Basque Country; José María Pérez Medina, Spanish Prime Minister’s Office; María del Mar Pérez Velasco, Government of Catalonia; Antonio Revilla, Government of Catalonia; Ramon Riu, Government of Catalonia; Ignacio Saéz, Government of Castilla y León; Ignacio Sánchez, Parliament of Extremadura; Agata Solernou, Government of Catalonia; Santiago Valencia, Government of Galicia; and Maite Vilalta, University of Barcelona and Joan Vintró, University of Barcelona.

Back to Events