The Spanish Federalist Tradition and the 1978 Constitution

Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1998 (112):125-144 (1998)
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The Roots of Spanish Federalism Spain's successful transition to democracy (1975-1982) was influenced profoundly by a long-standing 19th-century federalist tradition.1 Although, as elsewhere, early federalism was understood mostly in territorial terms, in Spain it gradually took on ethnic connotations. By denouncing the monolithic, pre-democratic nation-state, the federalist vision emphasized different cultures and languages. Thus Spain was seen as an ethnically pluralistic country. A homogeneous Spain would have been inconsistent with a pluralistic concept of “Spanishness.” Two visions of Spain, the centralist and the federalist-regionalist, have competed since the beginning of the 19th century, as part of a long-standing political conflict…



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