Cadiz Constitution of 1812, cover page and page Nº 1.

Faustino Martínez Martínez

Law and Institutions History Dept.

Law School. Universidad Complutense, Madrid


We can unequivocally asset that there are two irreconciliable visions that entrap every historian: the one of the past time which they try to study; and the one of the present time from which the investigation is carried.  We can then say, that there is one Cádiz Constitution of 1812, dated at that point in time; and many other interpretable Cádiz Constitutions, which have been read and outlined through 19th, 20th and now 21st century.  There is a Cádiz Constitution that deputies and public personalities who support it tell us about it in their texts; and there are other Cádiz Constitutions which spring from this first one, that result in individual, partial and partisan lectures of it and become contemporary versions of the original which rarely match the spirit and the soul of the one they refer to. We must finish with the protagonist rolesome historians have given to their interpretations and constructions have taken the leading role, later used as basis for different speeches that always aim to justify the present through the past. This means, anticipateing modern constitutional solutions to preconstitutional times, projecting contemporary creations to past times; seeking to obtain bigger dossis of legitimacy using time as a means. Our mission is not to participate in Cádiz’s legacy, it is not to interfere in its creation and development, neither is it to reproduce the most relevant debates or controversies supporting one or the other;neither then is it to conect that past with our present, but to observe it, analyze it and understand it and place in its own moment in time; since there is where it has to be and from where it needs to be looked at in order to deeply understand it in its purity. Cádiz belongs to the past, it is no longer here and it is not for us, it does not exist other than as an aniversary. It must be understood according to its own constitutional culture and not according to the constitutional culture that will later appear. We must remember it the way it happened inasmuch testimonies allow it.  We must go back to that past if we want to understand what happened then between 1810 and 1812.

Simply opening any exemplary of the Cádiz Constitution we can tell that we are in front of a Political Constitution of Spanish Monarchy. Just the title gives us enough hints about the direction the investigation will take. Political Constitution meant, back then, that it is not the only way to present a constitutional text at that given time. The adjective (political) goes a bit further; it defines the essence of that noun (Constitution) that it accompanies indisociably. There is a so called political Constitution, associated to the freedom called the same way, thus we can draw that there are other types of Constitution different to this one (militar, fiscal, ecclesiastical,etc.). These ones would be, in teory, excluded of the dynamics that the text from Cádiz wants to represent. Its goal is not political and, in the same context, neiter is it to assure the political freedom, which is in the first instance the goal of the so called political Constitution. That is its main purpose. To guarantee political freedom and to strenght it through constitutional ways. Later civil freedom of the individuals who form the Nation will come too, but firstly, political context is needed in an ultimate way. Political context with its power and authority, with its governmental moderation, its public happines as te goal of every action, its citizens obligations before their rights, with obedience, attatchment and submission.  All these creates the main basis, the national-monarchic sceme in order to get political freedom back and to ensure it for the future, after years of oblivion and shame. Deep down, the Nation, more than the individual, is waiting for the rehabilitation of all those domination relationships that come together with the liberty that the birth of the Constitution implies. And Nation has just appeared showing itself. Freedom is defining it again in a solid way and using little adjustments. This so called freedom, understood in hispanic terms, i.e. in catholic terms, means unconditional acceptance and observance of every mandate issued by the sovereign authority properly trained and potentially legitimate, inside the ethic channels (religious, i.e. catholic) that work as foundation of the whole public structure. They mean the articulation of a complex net of power, rights and obligations that respond to some particular exigences, to a very specific vision of that freedom, closer to teological ideas of preconstitutional times than to the open and extenden individual spaces that freedom means today in its contemporary meaning, definetely a constitutional one. Sections 13 and 14 of the Constitution will be clear about this and throw light upon what wants to be rebuilt: Nation’s happines, welfare of its individuals and moderate Monarchy, as the political culmination of the whole thing and as a guarantee of the efectiveness of that freedom. From the Nation, including the individuals, unlit getting to the solidified form of power. This adjective, for that matter, does not longer calify the noun, but it has a deeper role: it introduces public references of obligation, obeisance and submission through which future constitutional life will go. It all, according to the right path that constitutional life had came through before or the one it should have. Avoiding abstractions, the pursued goal is not etheral freedom, without conditions and pure, but one which is the accumulation of many specific freedoms. Some of them in different forms, articulated arround the main idea of political freedom which is the only one able of leading the Nation, and within it, the individuals that conform it. A freedom made to assure the foundation of the National Monarchy which presided the whole constitutional design before ensuring spaces of immunity for each and every single citizen.  Political freedom is the source of the remainig freedoms, but it is not individual but national (at least in the first instance) and it is not natural but historical.  A type of freedom, at the service of power, not of the individual, citizen or subject. Catholic freedom focuses on the acceptance of what legitimately stablished authority says, instead of focusing on liberty on its own. It is the ability to obey or disobey, to do what is right, in accordance with free will, but always in the frame of prior institutional channels which end up predeterminating it in an extreme wayprecio, pp. 37 ss.olaiedad.  en su momento por J.  pokl. The Constitution -and to assure it suffices to read sections 4, 67, 8 and 9, with its extention to section 366 – is seen in terms of obligations instead of rights, in terms of obedience instead of immunity or exepmtion, in terms -we must insist- of ancient freedom instead of modern freedom. The particual idea of equality, shaped by codes which were just old recopilations a bit more stilysh, more perfect and more complete; as well as an unique power which was completely absent, along with corporations and forums of all kinds which were not erradicated from the social and political scenario, neither did that help to strengthen the liberal charm of the text of 1812.

But it is too, a Constitution that protects a kind of political freedom adressed to a specific subject, and here is where we find another relevant component: Spanish Monarchy (not te Nation, which appears in consequence, comprehended within the first one, where the king is the head of the State). This implies that it is a Monarchy of the Nation which, consecuentely, has to be called monarchical Nation without any doubt. This places us facing a complex institutional and territorial scenario, which is at the same time, more than a perpetual form of government, built up in History, which is unavailable for most of the people, and is deeply entrenched in the political spirit of those men and women and those territories. Monarchy is more than that, more than the traditional weaving of public and private people, corporations, provinces and territories arround the monarch: it is the definition itself of the hispanic political essence. It is its soul as it has been for years now. The Constitution is the Monarchy’s Constitution, because looking at Spanish history, Monarchy is and the sole possible and fasiable constitutional way. We can conclude that the Constitution is Monarhy itself and it cannot be any other way without breaking the historical path and pervert the spirit of the political comunity. If another political form was adopted, Spain would dissappear as it is now. The existance of a different thing would start. A new historical subject would be borned, not Spanish anymore, it would be different, and as such, unpredictable, out of control, out of the paths that History has defined to define the borders of the political power with certain dossis of regularity, measure and order. This is the foundamental part of the Constitution, without which the text could never be understood as a whole. What is done in Cádiz is a kind of Constitution that is adressed to a specific subject (the Monarchy). But, what Constitution does actually spring during those years? What is the debate about? What are they exactly fighting for, if there is womething they actually fight for? We need to look to Cádiz’s immediate past to understand what is taking place.

The essential key stands in the perspective through which the complex material created from 1810 to 1812 has to be examined. That world of the past which evaporated to the eyes of many contemporary and dissapeared for coevals in an obvious and unforgiveable way. Those who decided to agree a sort of an organized and gradual dissolution from the past, an exhausted continuity or about to be, and this way decided to create or imagine a new universe, for which they put together many pieces, used many materials, instruments and elements taken out of tat same past which was about to dissapear. They started to built a new cosmos out of the waste, left overs and reminiscences that were left of the old regime, the only one they knew well. The result can hardly be called “this” or “that”.  Cádiz is an exotic place that is presented as a remote location, far away, unknown: it appears as a being without time, difficult to frame in an specific era, the one that finished or the one that started to open. The world in Cádiz turned arround that duality of temporal scenarios that approach together, that touch each other and distort themselves, and somehow, they get mixed up. Past and present hold hands because the constitutional horizont was built without defining any censorship with the most immediate or most recent past. Not only there wasn’t any break (and the nonexistance of any clause in the text of 1812 that erased the past is an evidence) but the text stablishes a fruitful dialoge with it, inviting the past to participate on the constitutional experience that back in 1810 started to grow in a new shape, with a new strength, method and system. The whole legislative work done in Cádiz mut be regarded through this prism: past and present overlaped, mixed, melted together, resulting in an open and natural relationship betwen past and present. Betwen today and yesterday, betwen 1812 and gothic, medieval or modern times; or even the immediately preceding royal and ministerial despotism times: Law from the past was still Law from the present. The basis were the same. That was the ususal. Yesterday was still today. That is how the legal order of Common Law worked; i.e., a traditional, teological, jurisprudential, open, plural, cumulative and sedimentary regulation. A cliche itself and full of them.

If there is not past neither present from a legal point of view, if the ancient Law is present no matter the time when it was formulated, if pieces of this puzzle are not taken away but mixed together and these does not birng up new general norms or universal guidelines; if nothing is rejected from that legal scenario, since everything is part of the same old prescriptive and cumulative order, of a traditional and sedimentary kind (comming from a theological approach); an uncertain and abstract order subjected to the probabilities that jurists, judges or kings determine; if this whole aforementioned scenario is the general picture of the Spain  of the Old Regime we cannot, neither should we, under no circumstances, look at the process that started in 1810 from the optics of what came afterwards: the positivist, legal and state perspective. A pure legal paragidm and its consequences are not useful to approach that opposed reality. An effort has to be made in order to understand what happened before and see how that “before” influenced what was done later. If we keep all these in mind (and above all, the lack of isolation between past and present, but its more or less pacific coexistance; as well as the persistance of the legal order and its recovery through improvement or correction), the vision of the Constitution of 1812 has to change in a clear and notorious way. It is not a new Constitution what is presented in Cádiz. It is an old one, historic, traditional, buit out of the habits, with pieces of the past and employing structures and institutions taken from a former reality that samed to be falling appart. A Constitution that had no derogatory clause because it lacked power enough to cancel the historic flow that defined and nourished it. What was done -and so they say those who were there , specially in the wellknow Preliminary Disourse made by Constitutional Comission that drafted the project of the Constitution in 1811- is to asset old laws and institutions, recuperate them, made them stronger and assure the aplication of the monarchical and catholical model that Spain had had since medieval times. Through this process this whole structure is given a new appearance that makes its recognition easier and avoids possible masking or ambiguity at the immeadiate future. The past is not only a source of power and institutions; it is the model of what has to be done in order to avoid the risks that degeneration had caused in modern times That is why the past is useful: because it is the source where everything that must exist is found, and, at the same time, it is the teaching that avoids possible digressions. The various pieces that integrate Cádiz are not an invention of the Courts, nor of their deputies; they are a creation of History, they are pieces that identify with the past, thus God is considered to be their creator. Creator of the Courts as well as of the whole political frame to which his creatures give now a new order. Lets think about the begining of the constitutional text, where, using a usual enacment formule from the Old Regime, it mentions the king Fernando VII, who is so by God’s grace, not by the Constitution’s grace (which comes second). This hierarchy is not pacific nor neutral, it is indeed full of legal and political meaning: the king is the supreme authorityon Earth, but undeniably owes his power to this Almighty God, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost, creator and supreme ruler of society“. By means of History, where the Constitution gets inspiration from, we have come to the Theology which is the founder of the political-legal order, the resulting consitutional order accepted by all men who conform the Nation, and whithin it, the Monarchy. It is a sort of reminiscence of the Old Regime, where a political model that was criticized and obsolete still can conditionate the norms. It still can make old schemes preveal disguised with new words and new concepts, which will quicly get old from a pragmatic and legitimate point of view.  In vane. Those words and those concepts do not innovate at all, instead they resemble the the past. The legal order that they belonged to was not something that could not change or be modified. The Law from the Old Regime was about to evolve too, however, its divine origine (i.e. its absolute perfection) buit mechanisms of self regeneration which always ment the addition, never the subtraction or disappearance of legal elements so that they could be part of the al ready defined order. Everything was already created. Men just had to foutind out about that Law in order to improve God’s creation or just correct the impurities that human activity could have introduced in God’s plan. This way the process that leads to Cádiz is conceived: the old leads to the slightly reformed, improved or corrected kind of old; that seems to be new but cannot be. The past goes through a recomposition process.  Nothing is lost on the way; nothing is ignored; nothing is distroyed or dismissed; nothing changes substantially. Everything remains under different words. On the other hand, its existance is strengthened. And this way a persistance that allows to follow the spirit of the new era is assured. And this is how it is done, this is how society acted. Take back and assure the continuity of what has been restored. The past invades the present in an uncontested way. There is not any horizon of future expectations.

Cádiz and its Constitution have been looked at form the distorting perspective of romanticism of the 19th century as well as from the eyes of liberal historers. These researchers, loyal to this adjective that defined them, wanted to see in Cádiz the logical order of the regime in which they were living, so they did not hesitate to transform the absolute failure of 1812 into a successfull liberal mith. At the same time, they criticized the Old Regime, bluring it untill it was completely unrecognizable. Neither the Constitution was any liberal culmination, nor the Old Regime was the chaos they want us to belive. Cádiz wanted to be seen as the source of the prevailing ideology in Spain during the most part of the 19th century. From this unfair optics, it is not surprising that the most part of the liberal creed later, at the begining of the 19th century, belonged to a primeval ideology looking at the very well defined preferences of their first written declaration in 1812. This distort vision is the sin of misunderstanding the Cádiz taxt and considering it as a liberal and democratic Constitution, when these adjective and noun hardly match those times neither those minds. The Constitution that was adopted the 19th march 1812, later spread and sworned all along the Spanish territories, can hardly be considered as a real constitutional text, neither a revolutionaryly constitutional understood in its most current way; we cannot see that this text was rationally and firmly written; neither founded on nature-based values, abstract values that conform self-evident truths. We cannot say that it was created by a constituent power that worked freely and respected the Nation’s wills, without any duress or conditions, no exigences from the middle class, the religious community, historians or other traditional spheres.  It is not a modern Constitution if by such idea we understand a rational and prescriptive Constitution, made out of te abstract truth, a result of the willingness of the subject who wants to create it and establish with it a new political order, free, global, complete, without bondages. Facing the new born and free Nation and the constitutionalised Reason, architect of the whole system, Cádiz oposes History to God as powerful and exclusive constituent factors, derivated from a strong catholic shield that banned any difussion outside the fronteers and at the same time avoided any external contamination. This is: facing the constituent avant la lettre, History raises above everything, and a Divinity claims its ownership based on the necessity.  And this happens this way because of the role played by the Spanish Enlightment (Jovellanos might be its role model), which was reformist before revolutionary.

The enligtment mentality ment looking at the past as the salvation, as the myth where everything was lovely but over time only had corrupted, so a depuration was needed (polically, historically, etc.). And this process wa never constituent, at most, it was reconstituent or reformist, more or less deep, but never stoped relaying in the essential pillars where the past was settled. On the first place, the regeneration of the Monarchy was seeked, wit all the attributes that defined it; a reappeareance of it but without eraseing it from the legal or political scenario. Monarchy had to be taken back in its purest version, in order to be adjusted to the comming times later so that its continuity was assured over years. Together with the Monarchy came many elements derivated from it and essential to sttle it and assure it in the right way.  We must use the 1812 glasses to look at every detail of what was being defined on that date and that would affect the Spanish Monarchy destiny. There was a common political belief shared by every important men and deputoes on that irregular corpus they were about to define the constitutional wolrd they wanted to bring back.

If we stick to the aforementioned premises, the most relevant new element is the absence of a real constitutional power at the General and the Exceptional Courts (inaugurated in September 1810) as an original and illimitated power with residence in the Nation. Out of this, we can conclude that the Constitution of 1812 cannot be called a modern constitution given the amount of impossibilities we identify within it. Firstly, the impossibility of a Nation in a completely liberal style (the conjunction of free and equal citizens, a fully democratic, equal and free civil society is missing) that has to be reduced to the existance of a Nation in th terms of the Old Regime, dominated by the religious, military and legal elite. This is not a free Nation neither founded on the value of te individual, but integrated by old bodies, with a political scenario that silences people, where current citizens are never present in the decisions that are adopted. Out of this first, comes the second impossibility: the lack of a real national soverignity with the omnipresent shade of the Monarch that underlies in each and every line of the constitutional debates and sections. What leads us to a kind of cooperative, broken and shared soveraignity, not to a soveraignity exert exclusively by the Nation. Finally, out of the two previous points, the impossibility of an absolute freedom of the diputies. The means of representation used to write the script for the future since Cádiz does not reverse anything from the past, but it stands on it and uses it as the support to achieve its objectives. It is a Constitution written with open doors to the past and to everything that the past ment. Only slight changes are made in order to make it effective, valid and unassailable so that it can overcome crisis as severe as the one taking place since March 1808. As fas as possible, the essence of the Monarchy has to preveal and should not be modified. This is what is done since 1810 and what culminates on March 1812. At any point, as it happeden in France with the revolution, did the fathers of the Constitution have the will of breaking with the past, of starting from scratch and send past to the pit of History, of listing all those elements that there would not be in Spain any longer, of explaining that derogatory effect that is visibly lacking.   In the Spanish case, there is not the intention of setting a censorship; on the contrary, we can easily identify in its very different elements (form of government, citizenship, religion, territory policies, etc.) the presence of History tat could not be rejected possible way. A presence that could not be fought without risking to lose the uniqueness of Spain as a Nation and as a Monarchy.  History writes the script of the Constitution and no power can oppose to it. The past defines the present and in that remote world the whole constitutional precept can be identified. It is a mirror and a model. If Spain wanted to become someting at that uncertain moment in 1812, it had to be something from History, never without taking it into account. The contrary would have supposed a political suicide as a community.

Without a constituent power, this is, without a free Nation that decides to stand up to define the soveraignity as the deposit of the public power and lead it this way to its highest essence; without a power able to create the new and destroy the old, we wont ever be able to find any Constitution anywhere. The Constitution, in its current meaning, is missing the author that every Constitution has to have; it misses too the minimum elements needed as the approval criteria regarding its American and French peers. To sum up, we do not want to identify any Cádiz Constitution because Cádiz is not the result of a popular proclamation of constituent power. Unlike what happened the cenuty before with the revolutionary movements that succeeded in America or France, where these gave the people a Nation on the first case; and the most effective and complete form of determination for the political power orgabisation in the second one.  In those other places, there was a constituent power able to break with the past, able to define the fronteer betwen now and yesterday; this process sent back to History all the consequences from the past without the chance of comming back under no circumstances. That constituent power, the American as well as the French, were able to write a categorically new text that settled a moment in history and determined what was liable to happen and what was not; what was useful and new, facing what was old and unnecessary. A text that clearly separated the new constitutional world from the old feudal one, and this last one becamed wiped out, ignored, historic; that is to say, no vaild, thus of no relevance from the legal and politicla point of view. Out of the Constitution understood as such, as Americans and French did, there were only ruins and debris, elements and ideas that should be abandoned and ellimninated. The new era that the new Constitutions inagurated, were, in fact, new times since they oppened new paths to the future and buried the past once and for all.

For the same reasons, Cádiz is not and could never be reputated as the yield of the abstract truth, as a product of rationalism, as executional body of absolute authority, but, on the other hand: it is yield of historical truth, the one that lives for and inside the past, that wants to turn the current men into hiers of his ancestors; that was based on the old Fundamental Laws which settled the limits of the sovereign power almost as absolute and justified every single of its actions; that believed in a past inseparable from the present. Cádiz does not create a truly new Constitution; Cádiz just reorganizes the Fundamental Laws of the Old Regime, recomposes the essential principles on which the Spanish Catholic Monarchy sustained, without giving rise to a radical, drastic and original power. In 1812, a recuperation, a reinstauration of the hispanic past takes place in the shape of a legal-plotical resurection of everything tat had happened back on those days of constitutional hapiness and that had been lost in time.

There is no creation without tradition. The great ancient wise understood it well when they clearly separated the traditio from the imitatio. The new is actually a new form of conjugateing everything that precedes it; the specific way that each age faces, reads, understands and interpretates the common past. Newness is just a new version of the past. The constitutional events that took place in Cádiz seem to support this last statement. F. Tomás y Valiente was wrong when he explained the constitutional moment in Cádiz as the moment when many Fundamental Laws became a sole Constitution, asseting like this the validity of the constitutional process. What actually happened was the transit of many Fundamental Laws into many other Fundamental Laws, better organized and clarified and with important institutional adjustments in order to make them preveal. THe intended modern face barely had strenght enough to govern the fate of that essentilly gothic body, which was who eventually governed the whole political machine, the whole rebuilt system.  There wasn’t and there couldn’t be a modern Constitution; maybe a historical one, that is to say, History to the service of the already constitued power, that experience had already prooved valid, incompatible with the  enlighted ideology that was the basis of the legacy from Cádiz.

Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid, April 2013.


Notes for a Reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978


 Portada Constitucion 78

Notes for a Reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978

Andrés Boix 

Prof. Constitutional Law, Valencia University

There are reasons to believe that the moment of making a profound deep change might have arrived, a change that would turn the country upside down. It is a fact, that right now, there are reasons enough for such a change. Only few question the institutional, social and economic collapse in which Spain is immersed nowadays. Neither is it questioned that among its causes there are many that have to do with Law, this means, with the way we decided to organize ourselves. And some of them, surely have to do with the norms that regulate at a very basic level our institutions, this is, our Constitution.

On the other hand, it seems obvious that, changes -mainly when it comes to social dynamics- more or less profound they might be, do not only need to be undertaken. But must also be “noticed”, must be seen and considered as important. Very likely, Spain does not only need to change some rules, not just give a new coat of painting to the surface, and then expect that everything will improve from what has already been acquired. It is not preposterous to believe that something bigger than that is needed. Something that could induce catharsis so that, beyond Law, norms, rules and the incentives that these suppose, a sort of social deal 2.0 is renewed. A deal through which we commit ourselves within an improved and more optimistic public ethics. In order to achieve this, a constitutional rupture contributes emotional and symbolic components that a mere set of touch-ups cannot aspire to provide. This is, for instance, one of the most interesting points of the so called “Catalan process”, all differences considered, which increasingly meets more supporters of the independence. The idea is not starting from scratch but that it seems so. The feeling of having everything left to do and to design, of being able to plan with the will of improvement, that even mistakes, which are somehow inevitable, are seen as belonging to the future, not to the past. The whole idea is, doubtlessly attractive. It all supports too, the arguments in favor of starting a constituent process. Or at least, giving it a try.

Nevertheless, I personally do not believe that we are in the right moment to work for such a rupture. Several reasons, including the most pragmatic ones that refer to a more objective evaluation of the situation, make me personally lean towards the believe that working for a Constitutional Reform (a quality one) would be, right now, more worthwhile. There they go, synthesized, some of these reasons.

1. Are we, right now, capable of getting society agreed upon overcoming the constitutional frame? Sincerely, I don’t think so. And I basically don’t think so because almost every social surfeit is economy-related, and the extensive hopeless circumstances that we now meet are not an exception to the rule. However, nowadays, a big majority of the Spanish population is more frightened about what the future may bring regarding the loss of rights and standards of living or about how to defend what is left from the “European” welfare – understood on the terms of the second half of the 20th century- than they are concerned about fighting in order to achieve new levels in those same domains. This means, it is not that much about society not looking towards the future, but that when they do, they think “Oh Lord, oh Lord…” which reveals a bigger interest on keeping as much as possible from what they already have than on making any profound transformations. In this sense, the economic crisis, as rough as it may be, has not yet reached (neither is it expected or wished that it does) a poverty threshold such, that a major and extensive discomfort is generated, thus the will of radical and total change widely felt. The level of wealth reached in the West on the last decades, especially in Europe and by extension in Spain, allows the existence of social and economic safety networks which are also mechanisms of legal safety regarding the stability of the regime and of the institutions. Sincerely, without this necessary breeding ground, it is very difficult to think of a popular will that may support this rupture in a realistic way.

2. Isn’t there anything worth keeping from the Constitution of 1978? Of course there is. On the contrary, there is a lot to, almost everything. It would have no sense to squander it and, even in a constituent process, there is no reason not to make use of it. There is nothing wrong on visualizing that much of the Constitution of 1978 is fine and has been useful. Furthermore, if we analyze the reasons behind the social unrest, there are actually not that many of them that find their reflection on the Constitution. Even though, some of them do, like all those behind the “No nos representan” shout (very popular shout minted during the Spanish protests of 2011 meaning “They don’t represent us”). This is why; it seems more sensible to make use of experience, to benefit from what we were taught by all these years of constitutional regime and then built preserving the good things we already have. Once mistakes and problems are detected, then we can start working to fix those specific points and avoid, like this, a waste of efforts. Which has also the advantage of being easier from every point of view. It is surely easier to reach an agreement about a few retouches that need to be undertaken in some specific areas, not only technically but politically too, since a constitutional amendment is above all a political matter. It will be much easier to find a basic common ground, needed for such a process, thus be able to tackle those basic points, than ratifying an entire change.

3. Moreover, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 has some quite good things. Among them -due to the moment when it was signed and written, the late seventies- the fact that it gathered an important legal consensus regarding guarantees, distilled all along the 20th century, mostly, after the II World War. Taking into account also the fact that ours was one of the latest Constitutions of that time; we had the chance to copy other’s solutions. As a result, our fundamental rights, for instance, as well as the mechanisms to protect them are solid and civilized. This entire legacy must be esteemed and protected. This is easier to do with a more limited reform. For example, regarding fundamental rights, different changes could be put forward. Those that could contribute to the experience already gathered: for instance, the right to universal healthcare could be introduced, even if the practical consequences of such an implementation would be mostly scarce, at least if we behave with immigrants as we have been doing in Spain recently.[1] Also changes that could improve the precepts technically, those that need written clarification on the text itself: the right to strike and technical details about the privacy of information, which, despite of being more a technical than a political problem, are not very well worked out. Or even changes that could eliminate those rights which make no sense to be considered as fundamental: reference to Honor Courts on Section 26[2], and even the “Petition Right” of Section 29[3], which could leave some place for many other fundamental rights!

4. If the amendment does not revise the contents of Section 168 of the Spanish Constitution (EC) -this is, if none of the first Sections are modified, including the definition of basic living together guidelines, nor the fundamental rights nor the Crown- it can be remarkably easy to undertake if a political consensus is reached. Like the  express  amendment of Section 135 EC has proved[4]. It is an additional advantage, further than its very unfortunate use up to date, which we better not lose sight of in order to promote a major social and political commitment in a certain sense, in a certain direction. Because the fact that the Constitution can be amended easily if there is support to do so, is not a bad thing, but a good thing. Let’s take advantage of the evidenced possibility of doing so.

5. The Spanish Constitution of 1978 knows also obvious deficiencies, and these deserve attention too.  This, by the way, can be much easier to accomplish if we focused on them instead of starting a much bigger and more ambitious process from scratch. Beyond symbolic deficiencies (persistence of the old regime and certain iconic representative elements), we can name hundreds of aspects where a constitutional reform seems urgent. They all have to do with the main original sin of the Constitution of 1978, its autocratic nature, its elaboration “from the top” and with very little trust on popular participation “from the bottom”. The funny thing about them all is that every single one of them could be amended without modifying Section 168 (a reform that would be easy on its procedure, if a prior and wide enough political agreement have been reached):

– Territory issues, in other words, days; a revision that, no matter what, should include  amelioration of the autonomic funding in order to make it more simple, fair and corresponsable).
Citizen participation in the conformation of legislative decisions, more referendums, possibility to abolish or a wider scope of the popular legislative initiative; similar to the propositions which, for instance,   have already been taken to certain autonomic parliaments supported by university teachers;
-Political representation and elective system where profound changes will surely be welcomed.

Deep down, I believe this is mainly all that should be altered from our Constitution. I think it could be more interesting -since experience proofs that specific rights and other measures are rarely imposed in a different way- that the Constitution focused on following the rules of the game and above all that we have those rules analyzed to see if they are good and fair.

6. Likewise, the convenience of certain symbolic amendments could be questioned, seeking that innovative effect, via amendments, which could somehow have the effect of an “injection” of the needed social optimism that a constituent process can generate. For example, reforming Title II (on the Crown) of the constitutional text, demands getting to the worse procedure of reforming Section 168, and changing the configuration of the State. This is, eliminating once and for all an institution such as the Monarchy. Not only toxic but which is also the incarnation of the problems of the regime and the continuity of the text of 1978 under Franco’s dictatorship. The Constitution of 1978 had many good things, also symbolically, and it implied the transition to a democratic State of Right. But also, around this last point, it committed and it still does, an original sin: its vertical strictness and the lack of confidence in the people, inherited from the regime it comes from and from which it did not want to abjure. This original sin, when being essentially fleshed in the Monarchy -and specifically in the dynasty designated by Franco to take his place in the Headquarters of the State- has the advantage, of having an easy symbolic solution with a reformation that would replace it for a Republic. And the purifying effect of a constituent rupture would be obtained with a “simple” amendment.

7. Finally, my reformist option, which makes use of different scenarios also has to do with pragmatism. Pragmatism at two different levels. On one hand, because I believe it is a good thing that certain constitutional consensus reached in 1978 are not questioned (mostly those concerning guarantees) and this is always easier to avoid in a partial reform context than in a constituent process scenario where everything is questioned. That is to say, to be honest, I do not feel very inclined to risk many of the rights and guarantees that our constitutional frame offers at the moment. Doubtlessly such a risk exists when we get into a whole amendment because, obvious as it is, everything can be kept or not, can be rewritten and reinterpreted. Some aspects would generate more debate and would draw more attention. Many others, however, would be unnoticed. Some could stay in a background stage and may be changed for the worst or the better, but reaching a weaker consensus and generating less debate than what it would be required if acting on them individually. Sincerely, I prefer not to take that risk, in order to avoid that some loss may end up being more of a disappointment than a rewarding acquirement. We must not lose sight of the fact that a constitutional amendment can be seen as an improvement for some, but depending on the point of view can also be taken as a deterioration of a previous stage. Well, me myself, I accept that something like this happens in a public debate scenario, where people is focused and where there are possibilities for a major participation and where attention is paid to what is needed. But in a context of massive change, I get scared by the thought of what could be modified by those with the most resources. Modifications without going through the democratic and inclusive “tolls” which would be developed if that same process happened in a more selective way.

However, my opposition against amending the text of our Constitution as a whole is mostly based on the thought that, beyond a certain point, a Constitution is not that important. Indeed, neither should it be. This is why I have not included among my suggestions of amendment, but that I do consider essential, any social or material justice issues, distribution or means for major guarantees. I believe that these rights and conditions are won (or not) on a day to day basis, with legislation and political majorities, wining those  battles instead of a constituent fight. For instance, what happened with a regulation in force like ours, where a Constitution considered quite “progressive” in terms of distribution has not been that much when put into practice…because that is achieved with other mechanisms. And it is not just affecting social and economic rights, despite it might be there where this effect is more visible. It happens in any constitutional-legal field we look at.

Thus, with the Constitution of 1978 many things have been possible, however, many others haven’t. But not because of the Constitution. Let’s keep in mind that, in a month, it has been possible to amend it in order to introduce a public deficit, but barely for anything else. Let’s keep in mind that during these years we have passed about a dozen labor reforms, but not a single strike law. Let’s try to understand that the Spanish jurisdiction is able to judge any dictator around the globe, who has tortured and murdered people (Spanish or not); but, on the other hand, it hasn’t been able to end with the many street and square names that still celebrate the Warlord and his closest ones all around the country. With the Spanish Constitution it has been possible to joyfully vote on subjects of great consensus, like the referendum for the European Union; but however it is still not possible to vote on something much more socially controversial -indeed much more reasonable to vote on, as many Catalan political forces already suggest- which is the territorial debate. Or it has been possible to supply with a government and a parliament to the city of Logroño and its surroundings (300.000 inhabitants) while Andalucía and Cataluña, which both surpass the population of half the European countries, do not yet have an effective fiscal and financial autonomy (not even to collect taxes) to be able to assure the exercise of its competences (major or minor they might be)… With the Constitution of 1978 it has not been possible to stop teaching religion at school, but blasphemy and crimes of spreading derision and opinion are still today punished by our Penal Code. Also thanks to the Constitution of 1978 some reforms have been accomplished regarding citizen safety, as the one passed on 1992, or the coming one, as well as the many deals in the name of Justice while it seems an exception that someone imprisoned by the State and whose innocence gets to front pages, afterwards may not even be compensated by the inconveniences. With the Constitution of 1978 it has been possible to illegalize parties that represented between the fourth and the fifth part of the electorate of the Basque Country, and on the other hand, it has been possible that neighbors can effectively participate in the administration of their municipalities through a transparent and participative control… and we could go on with a longer list of examples of the many paradox and contradictions. They all comprehend many more things but they mainly point to the same direction: the regime of 1978. Its very concrete and determined profiles which, however, are not the result of the Constitution itself but of how we have operated inside it.

But all these, for the good or the bad, did not have to do with the Constitution of 1978. It had to do with the concrete balance of forces and power that, since 1978, there is in Spain and that, through rupture or reform, with constituent process or without it, is what determines what we are as a society, which way will we go and how things will go for us. There is where, beyond adjustments (many of them necessary and welcomed) we should work on the Spanish Constitution. Work on winning those battles, because they are those that define a country of one type or another. This needs to be very present.

Very specially, and very likely, because the coming battles, in the shape of a constitutional reform (or reforms) of minimums, are going to go in that direction. And they are going to counter some of the above-mentioned results, as well as the confrontation dynamics we use (center-periphery, elite-bases, state control-participation…). We must be prepared and stay pragmatic, be more or less conscious of something which is, very likely, coming soon. Because, at least by now, things are the way they are, and it does not seem that we are going to meet a massive citizen rebellion from the base facing those claims and the current way of doing things.



[1]Undocumented immigrants in Spain have not long ago been banned to use public healthcare other than emergencies.

[1]Section 26

Courts of Honour are prohibited within te framework of the Civil Administration and of professional organizations.

[1]Section 29

  1. All Spaniards shall have the right to individual and collective petition, in writing, in the manner and subject to the consequences to be laid down by law.

Members of the Armed Forces or Instututes or bodies subject to military discipline may only exercise this right individually and in accordance with statutory provisions relating to them.


More information links:



Welcome Spain to the twenty-first century!

   UK JUNE 2013 Edition – Headlines:



The word “federalism” comes from the Latin “foedus”. This expression was used for personal bandajes and treaties between people in the Middle Age. Federalism defines a state in which: 1 – There are at least two levels of government rule in the same land and the same population. 2 – Each level of government have some area of ​​action in which it is autonomous. 3 – Sub-national units (Cantons, Landers, etc …) participate  in important decisions of the central government. This last point makes the essential difference between a federal system and a decentralized system.                                          See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalism

FEDERALISM: 2 Models to debate:

• “Swiss Political System– Wolf Linder and Andrea Iff (E-book)

• “Canadian Federal System– Canadian Privy Council Office, et Al.


“The privileges of Catolic Church in Spain”  Francisco Delgado


• “For a European Republic –  Ulrike Guerot and Robert Menasse

  “The (boundless) cost of the monarchy in Spain” – Sara Orellán   


Interview with: Luisa Martin (JER) and Carlos Hermida (RPS) (Spanish Republican Associations)


Book review:  Federalism: An Introduction– Author:Professor Dr. George Anderson (President of the Forum of Federations in 2005). 


Email: destinorepublicano@gmail.com

Twitter: @destinorepublic


Interview with Luisa Martin (JER) and Carlos Hermida (RPS)

JER logo  Republicanos 2

Interview: Luisa Martín (JER) – Spanish Republican Association and Carlos Hermida (RPS) – Republicanos    


1.   How would you define JER?

The Spanish Republican Association (Junta Estatal Republicana in Spanish or JER) is formed by a wide group of organizations, collectives and individuals who share republican ideas and that have committed themselves to working in order bring about the Spanish III Republic. In my opinion, that could be an instrument in order to create a republican popular front.

2.   How was it created? What are its objectives?

JER was created after the First National Republican Meeting, held in Madrid at the events hall of the Friends of UNESCO Association (Club de Amigos de la Unesco in Spanish), last 21st of January 2012.

In the Second National Republican Meeting, held in Rivas-Vaciamadrid last 19th of January 2013, JER’s objectives were clearly defined: to separate from the current regime and to establish a Federal Republic, which will be secular and supportive, and will have citizens as its core element and as the main character of politics. It will also implement an economic model that will give priority to the public sector. This Republic must seek once and for all the Truth, Justice and Compensation for the victims of Francisco Franco’s criminal fascist dictatorship.

3.   Your call for a public demonstration last 14th of April in Madrid had a massive response (more than 20,000 citizens turned up). Were you expecting such a response? Why do you think so many people answered the call? Does this pave the way for other courses of action?

The massive response to the 14th of April protest is mainly due to the corruption scandals that affect the Spanish Royal Family, which has enhanced dissatisfaction of the citizens, since they have been hit by the economic crisis and spending cuts in social services. This protest has given way to a new political scenario in which an important social sector is openly questioning monarchy.

4.   In your point of view, what are the mistakes that the Republican movement in Spain has made? How would you correct them? Are you doing anything on this front?

The Republican movement in Spain has had in many occasions a purely testimonial character.  It has defended the II Republic, but it has not set any political objective.  This situation has changed with the creation of the Republican Federation (Federación Republicanos in Spanish). We have precise plans and objectives: abolishing the monarchy and establishing the Democratic and Federal Republic of workers of all classes in Spain.

5.   If I go out to the street of any Spain city and ask to an girl or boy 20-year-old  about the 7th of July, 98% will say will say “San Fermín” without any doubt. But, if I ask about 14th of April, a very high percentage of them will have doubts or say that they cannot link that date to any important event. Only a few of them will give the correct answer (the “Day of the Spanish Republic”). Just one or two will finish saying “Bourbons to Estoril”, as the saying goes in Spanish. Do you agree with my hypothesis?   

It is true that there is a deep historical ignorance about the II Republic, but I believe that is changing. There are more and more young people who are becoming interested to know what really happened in Spain during the 20th century.

6.   Do you agree that history education in Spain still focuses on Philip II’s Imperial Spain (16th Century), the Bourbon Restoration under Alfonso XII (1874), and the Constitution of 1978, while other parts of the history are only mentioned? If yes, why?

17 and 18-year-old students in Spain study the II Republic, the Civil War and Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. Nevertheless, how textbooks and teachers explain these subjects is a completely different story. Some neo-Fascist ideas lacking any historical basis have been spread. It is fascist propaganda but some people buy it and we must fight against those interpretations.

7.   Are the altar and the throne (Church and Monarchy) still the references to the identity of Spain, as the Constitution of 1812 said? Do we keep looking to the past rather than the future? Are we risking petrifying ourselves if we only look backwards?

First of all, the Constitution of 1812 was very advanced, and it set an example for other European and American constitutions. Its content should not be reduced to that reference to the altar and the throne that is made in the question. The Spanish right-wing has managed to keep some myths of the Spanish identity which are absolutely reactionary and that have nothing to do with historical facts.

8.   Many people believe that Spanish Republicans are nothing but a bunch of nostalgic dreamers whose only objective is to try to reinvent or to rewrite  the Second Spanish Republic. What would you say to them?

We republicans are not nostalgic dreamers. The II Republic is a fundamental reference, but we look to the future, we want to transform this country. Thanks to our work, the republican sentiment is spreading and, mark my words, one day the Republic will be a reality in Spain.

9.   The Republican movement in Spain is formed by many groups with different ideologies, such as socialists, communists, Marxists, agnostics, Catholics, trade unionists, etc. They talk about union, consensus, but how are they to form a common front?

In the Republican Federation we believe it is crucial to form a republican social front, a popular front to achieve the Republic. In order to accomplish this, the left-wing must unite, but that does not mean that the different organizations have to renounce to their names, nor their past or their programs. It only means setting aside what separates us and focusing on what unites us, as was done in February 1936, when the Popular Front was formed.

10.    The objective is to achieve a republic, no doubt about that. But, what republic? A Spanish Federal Republic? Is Federalism an option for you?

We hope to achieve a Democratic and Federal Republic of workers of all classes in Spain. This new Republic will answer to the interests of a new power, which will be formed by workers, small and middle-size bourgeoisie, middle-classes and intellectuals, all of them against the current oligarchy power. This Republic will be a Federal one, because we believe it is the only way to successfully answer to the historical national aspirations in Spain, making coexistence possible between the different peoples in Spain.

11.    We are living an interesting political moment in Spain. In the last two years, 15M Movement has been created, as “the outraged” or the Platform of those affected by the Subprime mortgage crisis (“Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca” in Spanish). Minor left-wing and nationalist parties are getting more votes and seats in Parliament. Real Democracy Now movement (“Democracia Real Ya” in Spanish) is thinking about running to the next elections as a political party, following the example of the Italian Five Star Movement. Is this the end of a political era in Spain?

That is right. We are at the end of a political era. The model created during the Transition is obsolete. The Monarchy and the Constitution of 1978 represent an obstacle to the social and economic development of our country. There must be a real democratic breach and that can only be achieved through republican ways.

12.    Judge Baltasar Garzon recently spoke about his possible participation in politics. What is your opinion about that?

Baltasar Garzon, as any other citizen, is entitled to intervene in the political life of his country. The question here is what program is he going to do it with and what are his objectives. If he wants to reform the Constitution and the institutions, he will fail. This system cannot be reformed. It must be demolished and superseded by another regime.

13.    Surveys show that citizens are more and more dissatisfied with “traditional parties” such as PP and PSOE and the institutions that were born during the Spanish Transition. Is this the end of the two-party system? Is there a need to regenerate politics in Spain? Would it help if the electoral law was modified?

Yes. Everything must change. The only regeneration can come with the Republic. But I insist there is no possible regeneration with the monarchy. Its origin is in Franco’s dictatorship, it has the genetic print of fascism and that is the reason why the current system is not democratic. It was designed by the same people who ruled this country during Francisco Franco’s cruel dictatorship.

14.    As indicators of “the quality of a democracy”, we can list, among others, the active participation of citizens in the political action of a country, as the fact of demanding transparency and that politicians respect the laws, denouncing and showing “zero tolerance” to corruption and privileges. Because in democracy politics is a work of everybody. It is no longer enough to vote every four years. Do you believe that politicians have risen to the occasion?

Democracy is about real and active participation in politics by citizens. If everything is reduced to voting every four years, that is only democracy in appearance. A false democracy. That is happening now.

Most of today’s politicians are not up to the circumstances, and they have formed a corrupt caste in the Spanish society. Nevertheless, it is a terrible mistake to say that all politicians are the same. True, some are, but not all. Furthermore, this is not only a mistake, but a dangerous statement, since it opens a door to fascism with its demagogy against politics and a false message —“neither right nor left, they are all the same”.

15. Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

I just want to add that Monarchy is the problem and the Republic is the solution. A republic will give freedom back to the people, and also social justice and national sovereignty. On behalf of JER and RPS, thank you very much for your interview.

Luisa Martín (JER) – http://jer-spain.blogspot.com.es/

Carlos Hermida (RPS) – http://federacion.republicanos.info/


*Real Democracy Now Manifesto

Tuesday, 17th of May 2011

We are ordinary citizens. We are like you: people who get up every morning to study, go to work or job-hunting. We are people with families and friends. People who work hard every day to live and give a better future to those close to us.

Some of us have progressive ideas, others have conservative ones. Some of us are religious, others not. Some of us have very fixed political ideas, others are apolitical. But we are all worried and outraged because of the political, economic and social situation that we are living. We are worried and outraged because of the corruption that can be seen among politicians, businessmen and bankers. We are worried and outraged because the ordinary citizen is defenseless.

This situation is hitting us daily. But if we all unite, we can change it. It is time to move, time to build together a better society. That is why we believe firmly that:

Equity, progress, solidarity, free access to culture, ecological sustainability, development, welfare and happiness of the citizenry must be priorities in any advanced society.

There are basic rights that these societies must defend: the right to housing, work; the right of culture, health, education; the right to participate in politics, of the free personal development and the right to consume the goods that are necessary to live a happy and healthy life.

The current way of functioning of our economic and government system does not respond to these priorities and is an obstacle to the progress of mankind. Democracy begins with the people (demos: people; cracia: government), so the government must be the people. Nevertheless, in this country the biggest part of the political class does not listen to us. Its mission should be taking our voice to the institutions, making political participation possible through direct channels and trying to do it in the best interest of the overall majority of the society. Right now, the mission of the political class in Spain is to become rich and more prosperous and powerful at our expense, and it only listens to the dictates of the big economic powers while clinging to power in a particracy led by the never-changing PP-PSOE.

Things like greed and the fact that only a few are getting all the power generate inequalities, tension and injustice, and that leads to violence, which we refuse. The unnatural and obsolete economic model which is nowadays used is leading the social machine to a spiral that forces it to consume itself and makes rich only a few, while condemning the rest to scarcity and poverty. Until the system collapses. 

The main purpose of the system is to amass wealth. That is its priority, above efficiency or the welfare of society. It does not matter if resources are being wasted or the planet destroyed. It does not matter if that means higher unemployment or unhappy consumers.

We citizens are part of the machine which is destined to make rich only a few who are not even aware of our needs. We are nobody to them, but none of this can happen without us, since it is us who are making the world move. If, as a society, we stop giving our future to an abstract economic return that is never for the benefit of the majority, we will eliminate the abuses and deficiencies that we all suffer.

There must be an Ethical Revolution. Money has been given more importance than the Human Being and it must be put to our service. We are people, not market products. I am not what I buy, why I buy it, or who I buy it from.

For all those things, I am outraged.

I believe I can change things.

I believe I can help.

I know that, together, we can make it.

Come with us. It is your right.


References/ Links:

15M Movement – Proposals

NI - NI                          Young people have no confidence in the two major parties.  May be the end of the two-party system in Spain?

15M – Consensus Assembly Sun May 20, 2011

The following contains a set of proposals that synthesize the thousands that were collected by the Assembly held on May 20, 2011 in Camping Sol (Madrid).

As a result of the consensus reached at the Assembly held on May 20, 2011 in CAMPING SOL (Madrid), and as a result of the compilation and synthesis of the thousands of proposals received along these days, has developed an initial list of proposals. We recall that the Assembly is an open and collaborative process. This list should not be regarded as closed.

Proposals approved in the Assembly today May 20, 2011 in CAMPING SOL (Madrid).

1. Changing the Electoral Act so that the lists are open and single constituency. Obtaining seats should be proportional to the number of votes.

2. Attention to the basic and fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution such as:

2.1 Right to adequate housing , articulating a reform of the Mortgage Act for the delivery of housing in the event of default debt cancellation.

2.2 Public health , free and universal.

2.3 Free movement of persons and strengthening of a public education and secular.

3. Abolition of discriminatory and unjust laws and measures such as the Law of the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education, the Aliens Act and the so-called Sinde Law .

4. Favorable tax reform to lower incomes, reform estate taxes and probate. Implementing the Tobin tax , which is levied on international financial transfers and elimination of tax havens .

5. Reform of the working conditions of the political class for their salaries Abolish lifetime. Programs and policy proposals are binding.

6. Rejection and condemnation of corruption. That is required by the Electoral Act present a clean and free of lists accused or convicted of corruption .

7. Measures plural with respect to banking and financial markets in accordance with Article 128 of the Constitution, which states that “all the wealth of the country in its different forms and whatever its ownership subordinated to the general interest.” Reducing the power of the IMF   and the ECB . Immediate   nationalization  of all the banks that have had to be rescued by the state. Tougher   controls on financial institutions and operations to prevent abuses in any form.

8. Real separation between the Church and the State, as required by Article 16 of the Constitution.

9. Participatory democracy and direct in which citizens take an active part. Access to popular media , to be ethical and truthful.

10. True regularization of working conditions and compliance is monitored by state powers.

11. Closure of all nuclear power plants and the promotion of renewable energies and free.

12. Recovery of public enterprises privatized.

13. Effective separation of executive, legislative and judicial branches.

14. Reduction in military spending , immediate closure of arms factories and greater control of the security forces and the state. As we in the peace movement “No to war”.

15. Recovery of Historical Memory and the founding principles of the struggle for democracy in our state.

16. Total transparency of accounts and financing of political parties as a measure of containment of political corruption.



To give an overview, a list of the 20 most frequent groups of proposals within a total of 14,679 proposals presented below:

  1. Abolition of privileges of politicians : 741
  2. Reform of the electoral law (not the law Hondt and districts ): 628
  3. Measures against corruption (including more control and increased penalties ): 624
  4. Public Education 551
  5. Improving the working conditions of workers : 475
  6. Regulation of banking and financial system (including bank nationalization -111 – and payment in -100 -): 434
  7. Strategies for sustainable energy : 352
  8. Direct democracy via public participation , referendums and Legislative Initiatives Popular : 330
  9. Strategies for sustainable mobility : 297
  10. Housing decent and affordable: 272
  11. Open electoral rolls : 246
  12. Public health : 244
  13. Protection and animal rights : 238
  14. Pro-public company (not including privatization and nationalization of private enterprises or privatized ): 214
  15. Measures to ensure political accountability : 195
  16. Secular education : 158
  17. Remove the monarchy : 128
  18. Separation of powers : 119
  19. Regulation of wages higher: 119
  20. Requiring political requirements : 116
  21. Transparency in administration: 105


See Link: 


Monarchies, Republics and Democracy


By Miguel Ángel Presno Linera
Law Professor at the Universidad de Oviedo, Spain.


In this text, professor Presno Linera makes an overview about the different kinds of governments, both in a republican system and in a monarchy. Professor Presno stresses the idea that republic and democracy not always go together. Thus, there are lot of European states, like Great Britain, Netherlands, or Spain, as example, that have a monarchy but they are democracies. First, Professor Presno explains the different types of monarchies have been in Spain since the liberal revolutions in the 19th century to the actual Spanish constitution. Secondly he makes an explanation on the different types of republics, in this case looking to the American republics and some of the Europeans.


Throughout history, monarchical and republican systems have followed one another in different states and have experienced different changes throughout centuries. As is well known, a simple way to differentiate between Monarchy and Republic is that in a monarchy the position of the Head of State is hereditary and held for life; whereas in a republic, the Head of State is elected, either by the citizens or by other constitutional bodies, and its position is time-limited.

According to these premises, a priori, a republic seems to be more democratic than a monarchy, since in that system, most people could hold the position of Head of State (although normally with some restrictions as being of legal age or born in the country), this position would be temporary and its appointment would depend on an election of some kind. This is true; however, democracy can have some gradations and still be a democracy. To sum up, there are lots of states, such as Great Britain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Spain, in which the monarchy does not stop them from being democratic, since in essence, a democracy involves its citizens effectively taking part in the election of the government of public affairs, but it does not really imply them to choose every state organ. Members of the judiciary (judges and other court constituents) are not usually elected directly in Europe; however, their source of legitimacy is democratic, since they apply rules, such as the Constitution and the applicable law, that have to be approve, directly or indirectly, by the citizens. Sigue leyendo

With the succession on the heels…

Felipe Borbón and Juan Carlos I Borbón

 “The monarchy serves only to serve itself.Francisco Umbral

What does the Monarchy “really” mean in Spain today? Little more than ornament, splendor and swagger of its members… or explain it to me, please!

After the embarrassing news that have surrounded the Spanish royal family in the recent months, it would not be surprising that now a possible abdication of Juan Carlos I by his son Philip is being considered, that is, a facelift. Because nobody is going to let such a dynasty – substantial family business, with more than 300 years under his belt and an invaluable heritage – disappear only because of a gossip.

And they have already completed the image of an united, happy and exemplary family; also the image that they have an essential role as mediators in international relations. During the past year, events have amply refuted both arguments, it is possible to realise it just by taking a look at the press of recent months…

Sigue leyendo