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Taking advantage of the majority in the Senate of the PSOE this would be the time to resume the debate on territorial reform, offering, at least, a road map for which loyalty of the parties should be required

Argelia Queralt

Barcelona 30 APR 2019 – 19:34 CEST

The peripheral nationalist parties have had an important weight in the conformation of stable governments in Spain, as much when the Popular Party governed as when the Socialist Party did. On other occasions, the support has not been constant and express, but it has allowed the approval of state budget laws, an essential instrument of governance, or other legislative initiatives of enormous importance. The useful effect that the peripheral nationalist parties have had on the Spanish institutional stability has caused for them an enormous visibility and a political impact superior to their numerical weight in the Congress. However, the parliamentarianism and the electoral system foreseen in the LOREG have compensated for the low profile with which the Constitution of 1978 has configured the Senate, the theoretical chamber of territorial representation, and the weak instruments of participation of the Autonomous Communities in the processes of decision making by the State. The doctrine reveals these circumstances for many years and, therefore, we have been demanding a reform of the model of territorial organization of the State foreseen in the Constitution.

On the other hand, remember that the Autonomies are also State. A part of the problems of Catalonia is that the State has been disappearing, allowing some to exercise autonomy as an area of ​​exclusive political power. At the same time, the political apparatus of the (central) state has often acted with distrust of the autonomic institutions, treating them as delegated powers, and not as entities that find their legitimacy in the Constitution, exactly like those of the State (central).

Trying to restrict the presence of peripheral nationalists in Congress could mean a new way of avoiding the presence and representation of the Autonomous Communities in State institutions. It is true that the autonomous nationalist parties do not necessarily represent the CCAA or their interests, but it is clear that they have a high level of support and a high presence in the autonomous government bodies. The 28-A has shown how there is an important part of the citizenship that, in the face of attacks by some parties on their institutions or on their identity, have voted for nationalist or regionalist parties. These options have been perceived as a way to curb the extreme right but, also, the threats of recentralization from PP and Cs.

ERC, JxCAT, EAJ-PNV, EH-Bildu, CCa-PNC, NA + and PRC total 2,462,977 votes, and 37 seats in Congress (more than Cs in the last elections, or more than Podemos in the more recent one). To them can be added the votes of Compromis (172,751) with one seat, and even the sovereignty votes of ECP-Guanyem (614,738), with 7. That is, more than 3,000,000 people, more than 12% of the electors, 45 deputies. These results, no matter how some specific ideological sectors are insisting on, are also representative of Spain and, as a result, the Constitution already configured a politically decentralized system in 1978.

The LOREG was thought for a very concrete democratic moment, the one of launching the constitutional system, which required of political stability, therefore a parliament sustained on two great parties accompanied by some minority groups. Today the parliamentary arch, like society, has changed substantially. Citizen interests are no longer ordered along exclusive left and right axes, but concur with other criteria that end up determining the vote. One of these axes is the national one. Everything that happened in Catalonia in recent years, which has placed us in a political situation of democratic exceptionality, cannot be used to limit the autonomic presence in the Congress of peripheral nationalisms, which, on the other hand, are quite different of each other and, in many cases, with attitudes totally loyal to the system.

The peripheral nationalisms are not going to disappear, as will not the independence movement. Any government should rely on some of these in this new stage. Undoubtedly, the independence movement generates misgivings, no surprise about it, but its leadership is now in the hands of ERC, a force that seems to have reoriented its priorities. Taking advantage, in addition, of the majority in the Senate of the PSOE, it would be the moment to retake the debate of the territorial reform, offering as a minimum a road map for which loyalty of the parts should be demanded. Hopefully, also, at least one part of the right has understood the message.


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