Department
Spanish, Portuguese
School ofofsomething
and
Latin
Studies
FACULTY
OF American
OTHER
SPPO 1400
Regional and National Diversity and the
Spanish Political System
Dr Pablo San Martin
[email protected]
Nation-building and peripheral nationalism:
19th Century-Civil War (i)
Weak Spanish nationalism: contested by several nationalist alternative projects within
Spain (Catalan, Basque, Galician…but also Valencian, Andalusian, Asturian,
Canarian, etc.).
Historical formation of ‘Spain’: Alliance and progressive union of several Christian
kingdoms and territories.



Kingdom of Spain = Crown of Castile (Kingdom of Asturias and León, Kingdom of Galicia,
Señorío of Biscay, County of Castile, Kingdom of Navarra, etc.) + Crown of Aragon (Catalan
Counties, Valencia, Aragon, etc.).
No serious attempt to create a centralized administration until 18th century. Traditional
institutions of ‘self-government’ of various territories: Fueros (Castile) and Cortes (Aragon).
Strong regional and local elites.
Early 1800s: Napoleonic invasion and ‘Independence War’. Emergence of Spanish
identity?
19th century: Failed process of nation-building.



Conservative liberals: linked to local and regional oligarchies and networks of power  Not
interested in developing a more inclusive concept of citizenship.
Traditionalism (Carlism): Fuerismo, particularism and support of alternative king. ‘National
regionalism’: idealization of the medieval ‘regional traditions’, attack of the central (liberal)
state.
Republicanism: Centralist and Federalist. Spain as a nation composed of a collection of
‘nationalities’ (territories with their own culture, traditions, languages, laws, etc.). Defence
of autonomy: Federal state.
Nation-building and peripheral nationalism:
19th Century-Civil War (ii)
Second half of 19th century: Romantic movement – Folkloric studies. Concept of
‘ethnic nation’ (opposed to the ‘civic nation’): Nation as a transhistorial, perennial
community defined by language, culture, race, spirit.
End of 19th / beginning of 20th century: Emergence of peripheral nationalism (and
regionalism).
“[T]he later half of the nineteenth century sees the resurgence of cultural activities in languages
other than Castilian in various parts of the peninsula (…). [W]hilst Castilian had by now come to
dominate all walks of public life in Spain, (…), the other languages were still spoken (…) by their
communities, (…) although in many areas they were in a classic diglossic situation vis-à-vis
Castilian.”
“These cultural and linguistic ‘renaissances’ (…) were stimulated by the European-wide Romantic
movement, (…)[which] espoused a particular form of cultural nationalism. (…) The essence of (this
Romantic) nationalism (…) is the notion of a national spirit (Volksgeist), and of language as the soul
of the nation.”
Mar-Molinero, C., ‘The Iberian Peninsula: Conflicting Linguistic Nationalisms’, in Barbour, S. and Carmichael, C.
(eds.), Language and Nationalism in Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p.88.
 Catalan: Lliga, ERC. History, culture and, especially, language, as the main
markers of identity.
 Basque: PNV. Race as central identity marker.
 Galician: Race and culture (language) as identity markers.
 Others: Asturian, Aragonese, Andalusian, Valencian, etc.
Francoism and the Transition to Democracy
Francoism: Totalitarism, fascism, authoritarian regime…?  It was ‘Francoism’: a pragmatic blend of
different ideological traditions: National-syndicalism (Falange), Military nationalist patriotism, Carlist
traditionalism, National-Catholicism, Economic liberalism…
Several internal ‘families’ within Francoism: the Army, the Church, the Traditionalists (Carlist), the
Monarchist, the technocrat Catholics (Opus Dei)…and the Francoists…
Main features: Spanish Nationalism (at ideological/cultural level) and Centralism (at political /
administrative level).
The Crisis of Francosim: Overlapping of several partial crisis during the late 1960s and early 1970s 
Students mobilizations, working-class movements, new internal opposition,, terrorism, partial
liberalization of the press, and peripheral nationalism/regionalism  failure of the Francoist nationalism
project..
Nationalist/Regionalist tradition was too strong and rooted in Spanish history.



Spanish Kingdom: aggregation of different territories with different cultures, languages, political traditions,
elites, etc.
Ninetieth century: failed process of state-building. Weak state, always contested.
Emergence of nationalist/ regionalist movements in the second half of ninetieth century. Consolidation of
nationalist peripheral parties in first decades twentieth century.  II Republic: Decentralized State, with
possibility of Regional Autonomy.
1960s-70s - Opposition discourses:
Francoism = Centralism  therefore, Democratization = Decentralization.
Transition to Democracy: Democratization and Decentralization as inseparably linked in their mutual
legitimization and that of the overall political process.
Objective: to articulate the principles of unity and diversity (to satisfy the demands of peripheral
nationalists, mainly Basque and Catalan).
The new Spanish 1978 Constitution
and the new political system
First democratic elections in 1977.  Representatives of the mail political forces formed a working group to
elaborate a new Constitution (passed in 1978)
New Constitution based upon the principle of consensus, trying to integrate all the different political
sensibilities in the text.
Objective: to integrate into the system all the political forces, not to exclude them. Problematic issues treated
with calculated ambiguity in the text to allow for future interpretations and debates. Open text.
How to integrate the principles of territorial unity and diversity? State of Autonomies: Unity of Spanish nation
and autonomy of ‘nationalities’ and regions. Nationalist resistance: ‘Café para todos’
Spanish political system structured in two main levels:
1. Spanish / National level.
2. Autonomous Communities.
+ 3. Municipalities.
National level
Bicameral system: Congreso and Senado.
Congreso as representative of national sovereignty. Electoral constituencies follow the autonomic map.
Senado as representative of the ‘territories’.
Primacy of the Congreso over the Senado. Formation of Government and election of President. Spanish
system is not Presidential.
Party system: ‘Imperfect Bipartidism’  Two parties dominate the voting and representation…but, there are
other smaller parties that – although not in a position to form governments – can influence the formation of
government by the two major parties.
Two main State-wide parties. PSOE and PP.
Third State-wide party: IU.
Non State-wide parties: CIU, PNV, BNG, PAR, CC, PA, etc. (in a position to form governments at autonomic
levels)
The ‘Estado de las Autonomías’
Autonomic State: one of the most
original aspects of the Spanish
Constitution and political system.
One of the highest levels of
decentralization in the Western
Democracies.
17 Autonomous Communities (+ 2
Autonomous Cities), with their own
parliaments, elections,
governments,…and party systems.
[At the time of the Transition, it was
thought that NSWP would be limited to
Catalonia and Basque Country, as
expressions of nationalist ideas.
However, it is a ‘state-wide’ phenomenon.
Electoral system: Proportional
representation (D’Hont system).
Proportional system favours the smaller
parties, while the Majority system
favours the main parties.
ONLINE DEBATE about the State of the Autonomies:
Is it a solution to the regionalist/nationalist demands?
Or…Is it encouraging the development of
regionalist/nationalist demands (and political parties, etc.)?
Non State-wide Parties (NSWP) in Spain
Why NSWP instead of regionalist or nationalist parties?
Non a homogeneous phenomenon:
 Ideology: Left (ERC, HB, BNG, etc.), right (PNV, CIU, CC, PAR).
 Territorial scope: one or more autonomous communities, province, localities/areas within autonomous
communities, etc.
 Level of ‘nationalism’: radical nationalists (independentists), moderate nationalists (consensus with State),
regionalists
 Level of acceptance and legitimation of political system: anti-systemic (HB), systemic (PNV, CIU, etc,).
 Strength: central parties with possibility to form government (PNV, CIU, CC), significant parties with
possibilities to participate in coalition governments (PAR; BNG, PSM/UM, PRC), small parties (PA, UV, CE,
UPL, PAS, etc.).
Nations or Regions? Open to Debate.
Autonomic Arenas:
Example 1: Basque Country
See: www.ehu.es/euskobarometro
Dual Identity in Spain
¿C o n c u á l de la s s igu ie n t e s fra s e s s e
ide n t ific a ría ú s t e d e n ma y o r mé dida ?
60
Me siento únicamente
español
50
Me siento más español
que de mi comunidad
autónoma
40
Me siento tan español
como de mi comunidad
autónoma
30
Me siento más de mi
comunidad autónoma
que español
20
Me siento únicamente
de mi comunidad
autónoma
10
NS/NC
0
Spain: a multilingual state (i)
 Several languages spoken:
approximately 40% of the total Spanish
population live in a territory where
more than one language is spoken.
 Spanish (also called Castilian) is
spoken all over the current territory of
Spain and is the only official language
in the whole Spanish territory.
 There are other languages also
recognised as official (or at least
protected in some way) in 8 regions.
[Only in these regions, not in the rest of
Spain]
 This means that Spain can not be
strictly considered an ‘institutionally
plurilingual state’, since only Spanish
has the status of state-wide language.
 The strength of these regional
languages (Asturian, Galician, Catalan,
Aragonese, etc.) varies significantly
within their respective historical
linguistic areas.
Spain: a multilingual state (ii)
Tabla 1: Competencia lingüística en la Lengua de la Comunidad en las Comunidades Bilingües (a)
Cataluña
C.
Baleares
Galicia
Valenciana
País
Vasco
Navarra
Asturias
Alto
Aragón
Entiende, habla, lee
y escribe
49
19
31
53
16
7
7.6
4.6
Entiende, habla y lee
23
19
25
15
4
4
14.6
3.7
Entiende y habla
8
17
16
21
8
5
26.8
10.3
Entiende
18
34
21
10
15
7
33.4
26.8
No entiende
3
11
7
1
57
77
17.6
54.6
NS/NC
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
(N)
1.004
771
473
680
609
449
1300
1000
Tabla 2: Competencia lingüística en la Lengua de la Comunidad en las Comunidades Bilingües (b)
Habla
79
55
72
89
28
16
49
18.6
Entiende
18
34
21
10
15
7
33.4
26.8
No entiende
3
11
7
1
57
77
17.6
54.6
NS/NC
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
(N)
1.004
771
473
680
609
449
1300
1000
Fuentes: Siguan, M., Conocimiento y Uso de las Lenguas (Madrid: CIS, 1999). Llera, FJ. y San Martín, P., II Estudio Sociolingüístico de Asturias. 2002
(Uviéu: Academia de la Llingua Asturiana, 2003). Llera, FJ. y San Martín, P., Estudio Sociolingüístico de las Hablas del Alto Aragón (Zaragoza:
Consejería de Cultura del Gobierno de Aragón, 2001, unpublished report).
Spain: a multilingual state (iii)
Tabla 3: Competencia lingüística en Castellano en las Comunidades Bilingües
Cataluña
C.
Baleares
Galicia
Valenciana
País
Vasco
Navarra
Asturias
Alto
Aragón
Entiende,
habla, lee y
escribe
97
96
95
93
98
99
98.7
97.5
Entiende,
habla y lee
1
1
1
2
1
0
0.6
1.3
Entiende y
habla
2
2
3
3
1
1
0.5
0.9
Entiende
0
1
1
2
0
0
0.2
0.1
No entiende
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0.2
NS/NC
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1.004
771
473
680
609
449
1300
1000
(N)
Fuentes: Siguan, M., Conocimiento y Uso de las Lenguas (Madrid: CIS, 1999). Llera, FJ. y San Martín, P., II Estudio Sociolingüístico de
Asturias. 2002 (Uviéu: Academia de la Llingua Asturiana, 2003). Llera, FJ. y San Martín, P., Estudio Sociolingüístico de las Hablas del Alto
Aragón (Zaragoza: Consejería de Cultura del Gobierno de Aragón, 2001, unpublished report).
Spain: a multilingual state (iv)
“Lenguas minoritarias son aquellas que en ninguna parte ocupan una posición
dominante en la sociedad donde se encuentran. En este grupo existen lenguas que
poseen un estatus de lengua oficial (irlandés, vasco o catalán) o nacional (el romanche
en el cantón italiano de Suiza) y no están, sin embargo, en situación dominante.”
Etxebarria, M., La Diversidad de las Lenguas en España (Espasa Calpe: Madrid, 2002), p. 21.
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