Víctor Arrogante, 11 July 2021
One of the so-called fathers of the Constitution interpreted that “The existence of various nations or nationalities does not exclude, but quite the contrary, makes the existence of that Nation much more real and more possible for us, which is fundamental to us, which is the whole and the absorption of all the others and which is called Spain “.Regarding the Federal State, the PSOE already defended in its Program for the elections of April 29, 2019, a constitutional reform that makes Spain a federal State, with the intention of moving forward until fully recognizing the plurinational character of Spain. In the same way they proposed and continue to propose, the recognition of the uniqueness of the autonomous communities with a precise definition of their “identity, culture and language” in the Statutes of autonomy, betting on modifying the Constitution so that the autonomies remain with all the competencies that are not strictly state-owned.
This formula was the solution agreed upon in 1978, to the so-called theme of the “unity” of Spain, overcoming the concept used by the dictatorship: “Spain, unity of destiny in the universal”, which supposedly said a lot, it was not yet known that he meant in its strictest sense. In addition, with the formula that was adopted, the situation created during the Second Spanish Republic with Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia was saved. Today the ideas are still on, the interests alive and the unity of the nation and the existence of questioned nationalities.
Precisely on July 12, 1873, in Cartagena, there was a federalist uprising that established the Canton of Cartagena, which will resist the government siege for six months. The epicenter of this cantonal movement was in the city of Cartagena, which was where the “intransigent” federal republicans , with the purpose of establishing in Spain “from below” the Federal Republic without waiting for the Constituent Courts elected in May 1873 to draw up and approved the new Federal Constitution. What was intended was the achievement of a Murcian Canton with legal-political personality grouping the province of Murcia, within the national geographic scope; it never materialized.
The canton of Cartagena separated from the Spanish state for 185 days during which it made revolutionary reforms. Religious teaching was prohibited and collectivizations began. Assets were confiscated from the Church and those acquired by inheritance and with origin of grace and royal donation, such as mayorazgos or chaplaincies. Divorce was decreed and the death penalty was repealed. In the 19th century, the right to work was recognized, the eight-hour day was established and an educational plan of its own was designed. In addition, the new cantonal government decides to mint its own currency, with the silver extracted from the Mazarrón mines; it was the harsh cantonal born of self-management.
The term nation has, at least, two different meanings, one political-legal and the other socio-ideological. Anthony. D. Smith defines the nation as “a human community with its own name, associated with a national territory, which has common myths of ancestors, which shares a historical memory, one or more elements of a shared culture and a certain degree of solidarity, by less among its elites. ” Generally, the nation arises on mythological bases, fantastic tales of ancestral battles and powerful heroes or villains, invented for the glory of those who tell it and for the manipulation of the will of the humble around a flag, which generally represents the interests of power.
The Constitution of Cádiz dedicated its first four articles to the Spanish nation, in terms consistent with the then revolutionary principle of national sovereignty. The 1931 Constitution constitutes a direct precedent, by establishing that “The Republic constitutes an integral State, compatible with the autonomy of the Municipalities and Regions” and on this basis the Statutes of Catalonia (1932), Basque Country (1936) were approved. and Galicia (1938). This is the model that, with modifications, will be followed by the constituents in 1978.
During the 1978 constituent debate, the critical positions to this precept were multiple. There was a frontal opposition to the term “nationalities” considering it ambiguous, discriminatory and dangerous, confusing and unnecessary (it was the position of Alianza Popular). Another opposing, minority position of the most extreme nationalists was in favor of suppressing the word Nation, because they understood that Spain is not a Nation but a State made up of a group of nations. Another more ambiguous position regarding unitary national features was defended by the PNV, which limited itself to stating that “the Constitution is based on union, solidarity and the right to autonomy of the nationalities that make up Spain”. Finally, the Catalan Minority defended that, while recognizing national unity, it proposed that “the Constitution is based on the unity of Spain, solidarity between its peoples and the right to autonomy of the nationalities that comprise it.”
The position of the so-called fathers of the Constitution was brainy, broad and diverse. Herrero and Rodríguez de Miñón understood that the term nationalities referred to “differential facts with awareness of their own, infungible and irreducible personality . ” Roca Junyet understood that “nationalities” referred to “Nation without a State, with its own cultural, historical and political personality … within the plurinational reality of Spain, … as a Nation of Nations” . Peces-Barba proposed that “the existence of various nations or nationalities does not exclude, but quite the opposite, makes the existence of that Nation much more real and more possible, which for us is fundamental,. And Solé Tura defined it as “a state of collective consciousness that is based not only on history, the common past, language, culture or economic reality, but also on a certain way of conceiving its own reality in the face of to the others “ .
Ideas, principles and philosophy, loaded with good will and political and ideological interests, how could it be otherwise and for one reason or another, no one agreed and that is why it went ahead. The vote of the Plenary of Congress revealed the consensus among the main political formations of the version finally approved: 278 votes in favor, 20 against and 13 abstentions. In the Senate the result was similar: 140 votes in favor, 16 against and 11 abstentions. I don’t know if the positions would be different today.
The PSC in its 14th Congress approved the definition of Spain as a “nation of nations” and Catalonia a “nation”. On the other hand, nothing new neither in the PSC nor in the PSOE, who have been using that expression at different times, at their political convenience, according to the times. The definition of Catalonia as a nation by the PSC, despite not being anything new, stirred the waters and caused discomfort among the most conservative barons of the PSOE, just when Pedro Sánchez negotiates his investiture with ERC.
The new text adds the expression “nation of nations”, after the controversy generated over the definition of Catalonia as a “nation” and of Spain as a “plurinational” country, two notions approved in the political presentation and that it already approved in its previous congress. The new reformulation was made at the express request of Secretary General Miquel Iceta; today Minister of Culture and Sports. The expression “nation of nations” to define Spain was already defended and used by Pedro Sánchez himself when in July 2017 he signed the Barcelona declaration, where the PSOE and the PSC were betting on the federal route and a reform of the Constitution to articulate a new territorial organization: The nation of nations is the Spain to come, centralism is the past. “And the federalism that we socialists defend will be the guarantee that there will be a common future.”
Forty-three years have passed since the Spanish Constitution was promulgated, – born after a cruel dictatorship, which deprived us of even the most elementary fundamental rights -, enough time for Spanish society to consider an updated reading of the text, which with so much enthusiasm we supported at that time, those who longed for equality, freedom and democracy.
Spain is a Nation, as are Catalunya, Euskadi, Galiza, Andalucía, Comunitat Valenciana, Baleares or Canarias (which under the protection of the Constitution and according to its Statutes are considered nationalities or historical nationalities). For the PSC, federalism has always been “the best expression of the unity and unity in diversity” of this “plurinational” Spain.
I know that what I say has no signs that it can be carried out or that in the two days that remain in my life I can see it. The story is very slow and the minds are closed. The negotiation table on the issue in Catalonia is pending and everything remains to be seen. The time has come to open a Constituent Process, which collects the historical wishes of the peoples of Spain, from a dynamic and lively perspective, as corresponds to a social and democratic State of Law, in a federal Republic.
A large part of today’s citizens could not participate in the 1978 referendum and they do not have to assume as theirs, neither our fears, nor our desires of that time. It is necessary to open a Constituent Process, that of answers according to the times that run, and to the problems that the centuries bring. The next Constitution must establish as a model, a federal republic, as the best political model of government and coexistence.