A Comparative Analysis of Regionalist Negotiations
Chapter 3: Spain: constitutional negotiations and ethnocentric nationalisms
In this chapter, I will discuss the process of accommodation of identity-based constitutional demands in the Kingdom of Spain. Spain is a multinational society and, as a democratic constitutional system, it is the youngest of the legal systems considered in this book. The process of accommodation of identity demands in the Spanish constitutional system is, as per the rest of the legal systems considered in this book, multidimensional. There are, however, two distinctive drivers of change that condition the process of the recognition and negotiation of identity-based constitutional demands. Firstly, the constitution includes a flexible process of accommodation of identity-based constitutional claims called the dispositive principle. The 1978 constitution has a strict and formalist process of constitutional reforms, but in relation to its system of territorial governance, regional communities have the prerogative to alter their institutional partnership with central institutions in a way that mirrors the sociological and economic development of regional communities. Secondly, the Spanish process of the accommodation of identity-based constitutional claims occurs in an institutional setting that appears to favour an ethnocentric conception of ‘national’. The idea of the centrality of the Spanish nation has the effect of stabilizing the process of the accommodation of identity-based constitutional claims, yet it tends to feed the political arenas with ethnocentric narratives which favour, as in the recent case of the 2017 Catalonian referendum, radical political stances. The chapter is divided into two sections, and is preceded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion. In the first part, I will introduce the distinctive features of the Spanish constitutional system and the dispositive principle. In the second part, I will discuss the effect of an ethnocentric conception of the nation-state in the process of the accommodation of identity claims in the Basque Country and in Catalonia.
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