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The Autonomous Community (Comunidad Autónoma in Spanish) is the first-level political division of the Kingdom of Spainmarker, established in accordance with the Spanish Constitution. The second article of the constitution recognizes the rights of "regions and nationalities" to self-government and declares the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".

Political power in Spainmarker is channeled by a central government and 17 autonomous communities. These regional governments are responsible for schools, universities, health, social services, culture, urban and rural development and, in some places, policing. There are also two autonomous cities. In all, under the autonomías system, Spain has been quoted to be "remarkable for the extent of the powers peacefully devolved over the past 30 years" and "an extraordinarily decentralised country", with the central government accounting for just 18% of public spending; the regional governments 38%, the local councils 13% and the social-security system the rest.

Constitutional framework

Upon the passing of the Constitution of 1978, Spainmarker created a unique system of regional autonomy, known as the "state of the autonomies". The second article of the constitution grants the right of self-government to the regions and nationalities that compose the indissoluble Spanish nation. In the exercise of the right to self-government recognized in that article, autonomy was to be granted to: Chapter 3. Autonomous Communities. 143rd Article. Spanish Constitution of 1978. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  • two or more adjacent provinces with common historical, cultural and economical characteristics,
  • insular territories, and
  • a single province with historical identity or status.


As such, the province, which is also a territorial local entity recognized by the constitution, serves as the framework from which the autonomous communities were to be created. However, the constitution allows exceptions to the above, namely that the Spanish Parliament reserves the right to:
  • authorize, in the nation's interest, the constitution of an autonomous community even if it is a single province without a historical regional identity; and
  • authorize or grant autonomy to those entities or territories that are not constituted as provinces.


Once an autonomous community had been constituted, the 145th article of the constitution prohibits the federation or union of two or more autonomous communities.Between 1979 and 1983, all the regions in Spain had been constituted as autonomous communities; in 1996 the process was closed when the autonomous status of Ceuta and Melilla was passed:

Political organization of the autonomous communities

The basic institutional law of the autonomous community is the Statute of Autonomy. The Statutes of Autonomy establish the denomination of the community according to its historical identity, the limits of their territories, the name and organization of the institutions of government and the rights they enjoy according the constitution.

The government of all autonomous communities must be based on a division of powers comprising:
  • a Legislative Assembly whose members must be elected by universal suffrage according to the system of proportional representation and in which all areas that integrate the territory are fairly represented;
  • a Government Council, with executive and administrative functions headed by a president, elected by the Legislative Assembly and nominated by the King of Spain;
  • a Supreme Court of Justice, under the Supreme Court of the State, which head the judicial organization within the autonomous community.


Besides Andalusia, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia, which identified themselves as nationalities, other communities have also taken that denomination in accordance to their historical regional identity, such as the Valencian Community, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, and Aragon.

The autonomous communities have wide legislative and executive autonomy, with their own parliaments and regional governments.The distribution of powers may be different for every community, as laid out in their Statutes of Autonomy. There used to be a clear de facto distinction between so called "historic" communities (Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, Andalusia) and the rest. The "historic" ones initially received more functions, including the ability of the regional presidents to choose the timing of the regional elections (as long as they happen no more than four years apart). As another example, the Basque Country, Navarre and Catalonia have full-range police forces of their own: Ertzaintza in the Basque Countrymarker, Policía Foral in Navarremarker and Mossos d'Esquadra in Cataloniamarker. Other communities have a more limited force or none at all (like the Policía Autónoma Andaluza in Andalusiamarker or the BESCAM in Madridmarker).However, the recent amendments made to their respective Statute of Autonomy by a series of "ordinary" Autonomous Communities such as the Valencian Community or Aragon have quite dilluted this original de facto distinction.

Subdivisions

Autonomous communities are composed of province (provincias), which serve as the territorial building blocks for the former. In turn, provinces are composed of municipalities (municipios). The existence of these two subdivisions is granted and protected by the constitution, not necessarily by the Statutes of Autonomy themselves. Municipalities are granted autonomy to manage their internal affairs, and provinces are the territorial divisions designed to carry out the activities of the State.

The current fifty province structure is based—with minor changes—on the one created in 1833 by Javier de Burgos. The communities of Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja, the Balearic Islands, Madrid, Murcia and Navarre, having been granted autonomy as single-provinces for historical reasons, are counted as provinces as well.

Devolution of powers and the creation of the autonomous communities

Autonomous communities of Spain, including the limits of their constituent provinces.
Centralism, nationalism, and separatism played an important role in the Spanish transition. For fear that separatism would lead to instability and a dictatorial backlash, a compromise was struck among the moderate political parties taking part in the drafting of the Spanish Constitution of 1978. The aim was to appease separatist forces and so disarm the extreme right. A highly decentralized state was established, compared to both the previous centralist Francoist regime and the most modern territorial arrangements in Western European nations. In this regard, the current Spanish Estado de las Autonomías is often dubbed as one of the most decentralized states in Europe.

The constitution classifies the autonomous communities to be created into two groups. Each group had a different route to accede to autonomy and was to be granted a different level of power and responsibility. Cataloniamarker, the Basque Countrymarker, and Galiciamarker were designated "historic nationalities" and granted autonomy through a rapid and simplified process. These three regions had voted and approved a Statute of Autonomy in the past.

While the Constitution was still being drafted, there was a popular outcry in Andalusiamarker for its own right to autonomy, with over a million and a half people demonstrating in the streets on 4 December 1977, which led the creation of a special quicker process for autonomy for that region, although not originally considered a historical nationality. Eventually, all regions could be granted autonomy, if they complied with the requirements set forth in the constitution, and if their people wished to do so, and four additional communities self-identified as "nationalities" as well.

Between 1979 and 1983 the majority of the regions were constituted as autonomous communities, in accordance with the 143rd or 151st articles of the constitution. Nonetheless the case of the province of Madrid was exceptional. Since it was not a province with a separate historical regional identity, but was part of the cultural region of Castile, it was considered a natural province that would compose the soon-to be Community of Castile-La Mancha. During the process that led to the autonomy of this region, the old rivalry between Toledomarker and Madrid resurfaced; as capital of Spain, Madrid was to enjoy a relative degree of self-government, whereas Castilians demanded absolute equality amongst the constituent provinces of the community, and thus excluded Madrid from their project of self-government. Other alternatives included the incorporation of Madrid to the community of Castile and Leónmarker (the historical region of Old Castile) or its controversial constitution as something similar to a "Federal District" or territory, emulating Mexico Citymarker, or Washington, D.C.marker Finally, they opted for the creation of a single-province autonomous community, but in lack of a historical regional identity, Madrid was granted autonomy for the "nation's interest" through the prerogatives of the 144th article.

The Basque Countrymarker and Navarramarker were also exceptional cases. While the Basque Country was granted autonomy through the rapid process granted to the "nationalities", it also retained the economic and fiscal autonomy it had enjoyed through the fueros or charters. Navarra was granted autonomy through the "update and improvement" of the medieval charters. As such, it is the only region that does not have a "Statute of Autonomy" per se, but a "Law of Reintegration and Improvement of the Chartered Regime". In theory, Navarra is the only first-level political division that is not an "autonomous community" but a "chartered community", but in practice, except for the fiscal autonomy it enjoys along with the Basque Country, it is administratively constituted as any other autonomous community and is represented in the Spanish Parliament like the rest. Although the constitution forbids the federation or union of autonomous communities, an addendum or "transitional provision" to the constitution makes an exclusion whereby Navarra could join the Basque Country if the people chose to do so.

Leonese administrations proposed a Leonese Autonomous Community for the Province of Leónmarker, continuating with the Leonese Region created in 1833 and composed by Leónmarker, Salamancamarker and Zamoramarker provinces, and the Kingdom of Leónmarker, and even the Diputación Provincial de León, and so many municipalities as León or Ponferrada supported that model in 1983 (some of them supported Leonese Autonomous Community as an "Historical Nationality"). The Tribunal Constitucional of Spain rejected the leonese proposal in 1984, and León was joint with Castile in "Castile and León Autonomous Community", only supported by a 4% of Leonese municipalities..

List of the communities and provinces

Name

Local name(s)
Capital Provinces Capital
Andalusiamarker

Sp.
Andalucíamarker
Sevillemarker (Government, Parliament and Ombudsman)
Sp.

Sevillamarker

Granadamarker (High Court of Justice)
Almeríamarker Almeríamarker
Cádizmarker Cádizmarker
Córdobamarker Córdobamarker
Granadamarker Granadamarker
Huelvamarker Huelvamarker
Jaénmarker Jaénmarker
Málagamarker Málagamarker
Sevillemarker

Sp.
Sevillamarker
Sevillemarker

Sp.
Sevillamarker
Aragonmarker

Sp.
Aragónmarker

Ar.Aragón
Saragossamarker

Sp.Zaragozamarker
Sp. Huescamarker

Ar.
Uesca
Sp. Huescamarker

Ar.
Uesca
Sp. Teruelmarker

Ar.
Tergüel

Sp. Teruelmarker

Ar.
Tergüel

Saragossamarker

Sp.Zaragozamarker
Saragossamarker

Sp.Zaragozamarker
Principality of Asturiasmarker:

Sp..
Principado de Asturiasmarker

Ast.
Principáu d'Asturies
Oviedomarker

Sp.
Oviedomarker

Ast.
Uviéu
Sp. Asturiasmarker

Ast.
Asturies
Sp. Oviedomarker

Ast.
Uviéu
Balearic Islandsmarker

Sp.
Islas Balearesmarker

Cat.Illes Balears (official)
Palma of Majorcamarker

Sp.Palma de Mallorcamarker
Cat.

Palma (official)
Balearic Islandsmarker

Sp.
Islas Balearesmarker

Cat.
Illes Balears (official)
Palma of Majorcamarker

Sp.Palma de Mallorcamarker
Cat.

Palma (official)
Basque Countrymarker

Sp..
Euskadimarker, País Vasco, Comunidad Autónoma Vasca

Ba..
Euskadimarker, Euskal Autonomi Erkidegoa
Vitoriamarker

Sp.
Vitoriamarker

Ba.Vitoria-Gasteiz (official), Gasteiz (historic)

Vitoria (historic)
Sp. Álavamarker

Ba.Araba
Sp. Vitoriamarker

Ba.
Gasteiz
Sp. Guipúzcoamarker

Ba.
Gipuzkoa
Sp. San Sebastiánmarker

Ba.
Donostia
Biscay

Sp. Vizcaya

Ba. Bizkaia
Bilbaomarker

Sp.
Bilbaomarker

Ba.
Bilbo
Canary Islandsmarker

Sp.
Islas Canariasmarker
Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker/

Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker
Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker
Las Palmasmarker Las Palmas de Gran Canariamarker
Cantabriamarker Santandermarker Cantabriamarker Santandermarker
Castile-La Manchamarker

Sp.
Castilla-La Manchamarker
Toledomarker (Regional Government and Parliament)

Albacetemarker (Superior Court of Justice and Ombudsman)
Albacetemarker Albacetemarker
Ciudad Realmarker Ciudad Realmarker
Cuencamarker Cuencamarker
Guadalajaramarker Guadalajaramarker
Toledomarker Toledomarker
Castile and Leónmarker

Sp.
Castilla y Leónmarker

Le.Castiella y Llión
Valladolidmarker (Regional Government and Parliament)

Burgosmarker (Superior Court of Justice)

Leónmarker
Le.Llión (Ombudsman)
Ávilamarker Ávilamarker
Burgosmarker Burgosmarker
Sp. Leónmarker
Le.

Llión
Sp. Leónmarker
Le.

Llión
Palenciamarker Palenciamarker
Sp. Salamancamarker
Le.

Salamanca
Sp. Salamancamarker
Le.

Salamanca
Segoviamarker Segoviamarker
Soriamarker Soriamarker
Valladolidmarker Valladolidmarker
Sp. Zamoramarker
Le.

Zamora
Sp. Zamoramarker
Le.

Zamora
Cataloniamarker

Sp.
Cataluñamarker

Cat.
Catalunya (official)
Barcelonamarker Barcelonamarker Barcelonamarker
Sp. Geronamarker

Cat.
Girona (official)
Sp. Geronamarker

Cat.
Girona (official)
Sp. Léridamarker

Cat.
Lleida (official)
Sp. Léridamarker

Cat.
Lleida (official)
Tarragonamarker Tarragonamarker
Extremaduramarker Méridamarker Badajozmarker Badajozmarker
Cáceresmarker Cáceresmarker
Galiciamarker

Sp.
Galiciamarker

Gl.
Galicia, Galiza
Santiago de Compostelamarker (Regional Government, Parliament and Ombudsman)

Corunnamarker (High Court of Justice)

Sp.
La Coruñamarker

Gl.A Coruña
Corunna

Sp. La Coruña

Gl. A Coruña
Corunnamarker

Sp.
La Coruñamarker

Gl.
A Coruña
Lugomarker Lugomarker
Sp. Orensemarker

Gl.Ourense
Sp. Orensemarker

Gl.Ourense
Pontevedramarker Pontevedramarker
La Riojamarker Logroñomarker La Riojamarker Logroñomarker
Madridmarker Madridmarker Madridmarker Madridmarker
Region of Murciamarker

Sp.
Región de Murciamarker
Murciamarker (Government, Ombudsman, High Court of Justice)

Cartagenamarker (Parliament)
Murciamarker Murciamarker
Foral Community of Navarremarker

Sp.
Comunidad Foral de Navarramarker

Ba.
Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea
Pamplonamarker

Sp.
Pamplonamarker

Ba.
Iruña
Navarremarker

Sp.
Navarramarker

Ba.
Nafarroa
Pamplonamarker

Sp.
Pamplonamarker

Ba.
Iruña
Valencian Communitymarker

Sp.
Comunidad Valencianamarker

Vl.
Comunitat Valenciana (official)
Valenciamarker

Sp.
Valenciamarker

Vl.
València
Sp. Alicantemarker

Cat.
Alacant
Sp. Alicantemarker

Vl.
Alacant
Sp. Castellónmarker

Cat.
Castelló
Sp. Castellón de la Planamarker

Cat.
Castelló de la Plana
Sp. Valenciamarker

Cat.
València
Sp. Valenciamarker

Cat.
València



See also:

Autonomous Cities and "plazas de soberanía"

There are five plazas de soberanía ("places of sovereignty") near Moroccomarker as follows:

  • Ceutamarker and Melillamarker. These are called "Ciudades Autónomas" (Autonomous Cities). Their status is in between regular cities and Autonomous Communities: on the one side, Ceuta and Melilla autonomous parliaments cannot enact "autonomous" laws, but, on the other side, they can enact regulations to execute law, which are greater regulatory powers than those of regular city councils.


and then the tiny and uninhabited other than for military personnel:

See also



References

  1. " Regional Government". Spain. Encyclopedia Britannica Online Accessed 10 December 2007
  2. Preliminary Title. Second Article. Spanish Constitution of 1978. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  3. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. Chapter 3. Autonomous Communities. 141st Article. Spanish Constitution of 1978. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  6. Chapter 3. Autonomous Communities. 144th Article. Spanish Constitution of 1978. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  7. Chapter 3. Autonomous Communities. 145th Article. Spanish Constitution of 1978. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  8. Sinópsis del Estatuto de Autonomia de la Comunidad de Madrid. Congreso de los Diputados. Accessed: 10 December 1979
  9. Chapter 3. Autonomous Communities. 147th Article. Spanish Constitution of 1978. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  10. Estatut d'Autonomia de la Comunitat Valenciana, 2006
  11. Nuevo Estatuto de Autonomía de Canarias
  12. Estatut d'Autonomia de les Illes Balears, 2007
  13. Estatuto de Autonomía de Aragón
  14. Articles 140 and 141. Spanish Constitution of 1978
  15. CNN.com Catalonians vote for more autonomy Jun 18, 2006
  16. Global Education Reform | Decentralization and SBM Resource Kit
  17. Keating, M. (2006). Federalism and the Balance of Power in European States. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Accessed: 10 December 2007
  18. Preliminary Title. First Article. Statute of Autonomy of the Community of Madrid
  19. Fourth Transitional Provision. Spanish Constitution of 1978
  20. Poll made by Leonese Provincial Government in 1980
  21. Not an official language but is protected and regulated, and spoken by a local minority.


External links




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