Isabel García, 21 September 2021
Nicolás Sartorius, together with Joan Botella, vice-president of AEF and president of Federalistes d’Esquerres, at the presentation of the declaration ‘For a Federal Spain’.
Federalists from all over Spain present their roadmap to “deepen the functioning of the autonomous system”.
“Our autonomous system needs a reform that guarantees effective governance through a federal deepening”. So begins the declaration of the Association for a Federal Spain (AEF) presented this Tuesday in Madrid by several members of its board of directors, including its president Nicolás Sartorius.
Federalists from all over Spain have set out a road map and an action plan to undertake the necessary reforms to strengthen the social and democratic rule of law. In the search for this consensus, they start from several clear premises: federalism is not left-wing or right-wing, nor does it seek confrontation, but rather “institutional loyalty” and “unity” in order to complete the autonomous model born of the Transition and improve its functioning.
“The federalism that we defend is contrary to any tendency to disintegrate or centralise, which would only lead to inequality and conflict,” they say.
For this reason, the moment chosen is not a trivial one, after a pandemic that, although it has exposed the strengths of the territorial model, has also revealed serious weaknesses in the management of the different public administrations. “Spain is ready to move towards federal formulas”, said Sartorius, who also acknowledges the current political “deadlock”, but does not see this as an impediment to progress in certain federal reforms.
Although constitutional reform is on the horizon for the culmination of the process, its promoters propose a series of “specific partial reforms” that could be undertaken in the short term. The main one is the revision of the regional funding model which, on the one hand, strengthens the State’s common ‘coffers’ and guarantees quality public services, and on the other, the financial sufficiency of the autonomous communities; without forgetting the delimitation of what they describe as “pernicious or unfair tax competition”. In the words of Sartorius, “in Spain we are not converging, but diverging”.
Likewise, they propose regulating figures such as the Conference of Presidents or the Sectoral Conferences in order to improve their functioning, “preventing their virtuality from being left in the hands of the government of the day”. They also propose reforming the Senate to turn it into a true chamber of territorial representation. A reform, Sartorius recalled, which has been talked about in recent years and which has even been proposed by the PP.
The other major package of reforms refers to the sphere of competence in order to avoid the conflict that has become evident during the covid. For the signatories of the declaration, it is necessary to delimit the “exclusive and non-delegable competences of the State (Federation)” and also to establish a common framework for action with regard to others that have been transferred, especially in matters that make up the welfare state (health, education, dependency, etc.).
Since this project was launched in 2017, the Association for a Federal Spain has managed to establish itself in practically all the autonomous communities. Its relaunch now contemplates a calendar of meetings with parties, trade unions, business organisations and other groups in the social fabric, as well as activities of various kinds in the different territories to create a “drive for change” in civil society, says Sartorius.