Andalusian Socialists lay out plan for federal Spain

Opposition to present proposal in face of growing clamor for self-rule in Catalonia

Socialist Party president José Antonio Griñán believes the regional model no longer serves Spain's needs.
Socialist Party president José Antonio Griñán believes the regional model no longer serves Spain's needs. Raúl Caro (EFE)

The Andalusian Socialist Party wants sweeping reforms of the Spanish Constitution to create a federal state model — one that nevertheless preserves the unity of Spain. Socialist Party president José Antonio Griñán, who is also the regional premier of Andalusia, will present a document in the second week of January detailing the project, which seeks a middle-of-the-road solution that will be acceptable both to supporters of regional sovereignty and to proponents of a stronger central state.

The proposal was developed by scholars of constitutional and finance law, in partnership with former Socialist leaders, as an answer to the resurgence of pro-independence sentiment in Catalonia, which plans to hold a referendum on self-rule in the near future. "The countries with the greatest political stability are federal states," reads the Socialist document. "We need only look at the cases of the United States, Canada or Australia, and in Europe, of Germany or Switzerland."

The Socialist Party considers that the current state model, based on 17 regions with significant powers of self-rule and their own institutions, has reached the end of its useful life. Created during the transition to democracy, the system acknowledged historically significant cultures, such as the Basques, the Galicians and the Catalans, after decades of oppression by Franco. But with the economic crisis, a growing chorus is criticizing a multiplication of public agencies and the ensuing cost to the taxpayer.

The federal model now championed by the Socialists "offers more advantageous solutions" and will guarantee "equal rights for all Spanish citizens, full recognition and respect for diversity," according to the document.

The project calls for the Constitution to clearly define how powers are to be shared out between the Federation (Spain) and the Federated Units (the current autonomous regions), keeping the central state's powers over basic legislation down to a minimum — although it would be allowed to legislate on shared issues such as education, health and the single market.

Griñán's plan proposes a reformed Senate independent from Congress, with legislative power over matters affecting the federated units. The central party leaders will analyze the Andalusian proposal, as well as others, and try to have a final proposal for state reform ready by late 2013.

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