Spain Is Not A Federation: Autonomous Communities of Spain Explained
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Spain Is Not A Federation: Autonomous Communities of Spain Explained

October 9, 2019


Spain is a country that functions a lot like Federation, without actually being a federation. When the country is a federation, what that means is that it is a union of partially self-governing states under central government. This sounds like Spain, which along the countrywide government, has many autonomous communities that are self-governing. These include not only the communities in the iberian peninsula but also the insular territories such as one community for the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, and another for the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. The cities of Ceuta and Melilla on Morocco’s side of the straight in north africa have special status as autonomous cities. While gibraltar on Spain side is not a part of Spain and instead and overseas territory of the UK. The autonomous communities were established during Spain’s transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco. The framers of the new spanish constitution in 1978 wanted to maintain a unified, indivisible, Spanish state. So they were careful to deliberately not make Spain a federation, but at the same time needed to keep the Galicians, Catalans, and Basques happy, who wanted more autonomy after being suppressed by highly centralized Franco Regime. Those communities can sometimes have powers that you even exceed those of states in Federation’s. Some have recognized distinct nationalities, have their own official languages, and some even collect taxes independent of the spanish government. So in practice Spain behaves like a federation, but in theory the Constitution only guaranteed a process through which regions could become self-governing, but did not itself established or list the powers of these entities. Instead the regions would later gain their rights through a statute of autonomy, which is similar to the process of awarding devolved powers in non-federations called unitary states. This is an important distinction because in general the Constitutions of Federations clearly outline the division of powers between the federal government and the members. In unitary states the central government can change the powers of its sub-national divisions, while in Federation the federal government must respect the members rights and often constitutional reforms require consent from the members. But at the same time the members must respect the powers of the federal state and cannot unilaterally secede. This distinguishes Federation’s from Confederations which are union of sovereign states which retain the right to secede at any time. For example, Spain is a member of the European Union with is like a confederation, since member states can leave by invoking article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon which established the EU. Spain’s complicated internal structure is the result of its history. After the fall of the Roman Empire the local varieties of Latin used by the common people known as vulgar latin slowly diverged into the various Romance languages. For centuries the north of Iberia was split between many Christian kingdoms while the south was under Muslim rule. In each of the Christian kingdoms, vulgar latin diverged into different languages, such as Galician which is related to portuguese, Leonese, Aragonese, and Castilian, which are related to each other, and Catalan which is distantly related to French, but is more closely related to the Occitan language that exists in southern France before being mostly replaced by french. The basque language in the Pyrenees Mountains, is not a Romance language. It’s not even in the indo-european language family of most modern European languages, and so it’s likely descended from a language that existed in those mountains from before indo-european languages spread into Europe. The castilian language became dominant following its spread during the Reconquista, and became language of a unified Spanish kingdom and is commonly known as Spanish in other languages as well as among some Spanish speakers. However, Galician, Basque and Catalan identities remain strong so they were allowed to quickly established autonomous communities by the method outlined in the Constitution when Spain became a democracy. The rest of Spain gradually created their own autonomous communities and now the cover all of Spain’s territory. The autonomous communities are composed of one or more provinces of spain, which are themselves composed of municipalities. This means most of Spain has four levels of government: municipal, provincial, the regional governments of the communities, and the national government. The autonomous cities in North Africa take on the powers of a municipality, province and a community. Some communities are large and cover many provinces, but some like Madrid, established specifically to make administering the capital easier, contain just one. In general all the communities have control over their finances and are in charge of education, health, and social services. But other powers are unequally distributed among the communities. Some communities have their own Civil Code, which means they have their own method of dealing with non-criminal legal decisions, and these communities have co-official languages along with Spanish: Galicia has Galician and basque is a co-official language in the Basque Country along with the Basque speaking areas of neighboring Navarre. Valencia has a variety of catalan called Valencian, and Catalan itself is co-official in the Balearic islands and Catalonia. Additionally Catalonia recognizes occitan as co-official as it is spoken by some in border regions. As well, Aragonese and Asturian are considered protected languages in their namesake regions, and both Asturian and Galician are protected in Castile and Leon. Catalonia, Navarre, and the Basque Country have their own police forces, while Navarre and the Basque Country are communities of chartered regime, which means they collect the taxes within their territory and then send a portion to the national government to cover its responsibilities. All the other communities are part of the common regime where the situation is reversed. Some communities notably catalonia want more powers devolved, and there are some desire in Spain to become fully federalized. But currently Spain is still technically a unitary state. If you enjoyed this video you might like this one about Russia or this one about Spain’s tiny neighbor Andorra which speaks Catalan and has two princes: one is a bishop in Catalonia, and the other is the President of France.

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  1. Videos like this for Indonesia, India, and China are still coming. I'm also thinking of doing a video about the origin of the name Middle East, as well as explaining the difference between Arab and Muslim with Venn diagrams, since a see a lot of people in the comments of my previous videos getting those two things confused so I figure its something that would be useful.

    If your country has really complicated subdivisions like Spain and Russia then I might also do it as well.

    What do you think about the audio? I tried some new things while I'm waiting on the good microphone I ordered to arrive.

  2. Quim Torra is the new Catalan independentist leader and new President of the Autonomic Region of Catalonia, elected not by the people, but by Carles Puigdemont, who is in Germany, pending to be extradited to Spain for orchestrating a coup d'etat whereby he, Puigdemont, unilaterally, decided to declare the region of Catalonia an independent republic, even when he was not backed by a majority. Independentists are not a majority within Catalonia itself. They are 47%, opposed by 53% that want to stay as a part of Spain. The last election was won by Ciudadanos, a unitarian party, but an electoral law that gives the rural votes more validity than those cast in cities, gave independentists a parliamentary majority, so they are now barely governing in coalition with simple majority of one vote. And yet when they speak internationally they claim to do so on behalf of all Catalans. This is far from true. Independentists are a minority within Catalonia.

    There is a big controversy and as many opinions as Spanish citizens, but I have taken the time to translate some of Quim Torra's tweets and press articles so that everyone can see the kind of person he is and what he stands for. You can check these tweets and articles in the Spanish press and Media. They are public:
    "The non independentist Catalans are beasts, scavengers, hyenas, animals with the shape of humans that absorb hatred. A perturbed pestilent hatred that stinks like a moldy denture, for the Catalan language. There is something Freudian in these beasts, like a glitch in their ADN chain. They walk among us, impermeable to any event that represents Catalanism".
    "The Spanish and the French share the eagerness to annihilate the nations that barely survive in their territories"
    "All what Spanish people are capable of is ravaging".
    "We Catalans vote and the Spanish come to check us out. Get away from here! Leave us alone!"
    "The fascism of the Catalans that are not independentist is revolting and pestilent"
    "Us Catalans travel in private cars and pay for our expenses, unlike Spaniards".
    "There has never been a non-inedpendentist Catalan whose life or career has been meaningful for the evolution of Humankind"

    There are more, many more, but may these be a sample of what Catalan Independentists are and what they stand for.

    I have also translated below excerpts from speeches by Adolf Hitler, because the similarity with Torra's speech is horrifying:

    "When the question is still put to us why National Socialism fights with such fanaticism against the Jewish element in Germany, why it pressed and still presses for its removal then the answer can only be: Because National Socialism desires to establish a true community of the people…. Because we are National Socialists we can never suffer an alien race which has nothing to do with us to claim the leadership of our working people."

    "The greatest achievements in intellectual life can never be produced by those of alien race but only by those who are inspired by the Aryan or German spirit."

    We all know where Hitler's speech led Humanity. Please, don't let it happen again. See Nationalism eye to eye for what it is.

  3. Sorry to correct you. But the EU is an Intergovernmental Organization (IGO), not a Confederation.

  4. There should not be federal systems, it suspends rights of divisions to prevent authoritarianism. Confederal systems are better because the states have more freedom from government. Federation: states have less power under the national government, confederation: states have equal power to the national government

  5. Very nice video bro, I am from Spain and I aprove this video. U know… Spain is different. Viva España

  6. Spain was fascist until it's dictator died thus went into a constitutional monarchy with eliments of fascist

  7. Occitan morphologically is camouflaged as if somewhat related to occident/L. occidens, but actually it should be pronounced as okkitan, because it derived from the historical way people saying "yes", oc, (firstly Occitania by drawing analogy to stuffs like Mauritania, then Occitan through the notorious backformation) in southern Francia, as opposed to the expression of oui in langue d'oui areas, which is overlapping with Parisian French or northern French speaking areas in France.

  8. I support Catalans from the very beginning of the ref that occurred recently. Will they ever be independent??

  9. 1:00 well… the galicians, basques and catalans still unhappy.
    not only because they are still part of spain, but because they split Euskal Herria (basque country+navarre) and Països Catalans (catalonia+valencia) too
    one more thing, 4:49. catalan and valencian are the same lenguaje, with very very little variations, not even a dialect.

    spain just divided all this in order to weak those regions' nationalism

  10. Spain is overpopulated just like the rest of the Europe. The main beauty of a country is its natural, unspoiled nature, but when all you see is buildings after buildings, it becomes too much, if most of the Spain, Europe and all the other countries were unspoiled nature, imagine how beautiful it would have been? I think our planet was more beautiful hundreds of years ago. Now there are too many people and buildings everywhere, Ahhhh too bad, selfish people keep bringing too many kids, they have destroyed the beauty of our planet, imagine the future?
    https://youtu.be/WtsAHZQQkzE

  11. Remember the powerfull Soviet Rússia? Jugoslávia? Checoslováquia? Next, spain! Catalonia! Basc Country! Galiza! Olivença! Morocoo, Ceuta and Melilha, with a double wall…And spanish kill…Guanche/ Canary Islands in North África! etc Holocaust in South América, Aztecs, Mayas, Incas… TUPAC AMARU forever! Where the democrats in this world? They just care about Palestinians? Imigrantes in Europe or USA? Please…😞

  12. You didn't talk at all about Andalusia or the Andalusian dialect or the Arabic dialects still spoken there. Andalusia is one of Spains most important regions.

  13. Very well explained! (I have Galician. And I think this is one of the best videos I’ve seen about my region) thank you

  14. Just let you know that balerics and valencians don't like at all be placed in the same group as catalans, so you should divided them. There is even a lot of division between catalans.

  15. A Spanish politician gave the best definition: Spain is an asymmetric quasi-federal state. We call this structure in Spain "Estado de la autonomías" (state of autonomies, because the name of our 'federal states' is 'autonomous communities'). There are federal states in other countries with less self-government than several Spanish autonomous communities. Spain is one of the most decentralized in Europe. Canada and Belgium are other examples of asymmetric federal states

  16. yep its spain a mixture many ideologies civil wars many weird political geography and many different ethinique group

  17. I am from the south of Spain, and my compatriots in the north have more rights than us and, in addition, they ask for more, all this is a product of the left, it is time for the right to return to Spain.

  18. Spanish here from Galicia. This video is surprisingly accurate and objective.

    Something interesting about Spain that explains some of our internal issues is over 80% of the population is by the coast and the middle of Spain is empty with the huge exception of Madrid.

  19. En resumen España es un hormiguero que cualquier día explotara y habrá otra de tantas guerras civiles que ha habido a lo largo de su historia , España camina paso a paso hacia la valcanizacion.

  20. Title translations is wrong, the correct version should be: "Las comunidades autónomas de España explicadas (Subtítulos)
    "

  21. It is very sad how Navarre has been ignored and despised throughout history. It would be good if you spoke of Navarre, a kingdom that was in force for practically a millennium and is now no more than an ignored community.

  22. It is very sad how Navarre has been ignored and despised throughout history. It would be good if you spoke of Navarre, a kingdom that was in force for practically a millennium and is now no more than an ignored community.

  23. Listen you asshole. Vulgar back then wasn’t vulgar in today’s vocabulary!!! Therefore Spanish has never been vulgar!! English is a mediocre lenguaje honey!!!!and get over it!!

  24. Oust the Bourbons!
    BRING BACK THE HABSBURGS!!!

    Just kidding. You can now continue reading other comments.
    Don't mind me 😉

  25. Basque country only gives 1% of their taxes to Spain, in order to pay services like roads. They get to keep 99% of the taxes that they collect.

  26. The tittle in spanish is wrong. It should be "España no es una federación: Comunidades autónomas de España explicadas"… or, if you want a shorter tittle, "Las comunidades autónomas de España explicadas"… The traduction that is on right now, says "explicaron", as if the communities were the ones explaining something.

  27. Woah… I've been convinced that spain doesnt exist all day. And this absolutely affirms that. The subconcious is a strange thing my friends..follow it and you might just learn something.

  28. Wouldn't this also make the US not a federation, since the 10th amendment gives states literally every power not granted to the federal government, instead of listing them?

  29. As a Spaniard you actually did a pretty good job. I am surprised that a foreigner knows a lot about Spain since even us Spaniards don't understand our country.

  30. Finnish, not Finish, Finnish language, Finish Line, other than that a good video, educational and easily understandable

  31. Really nice work. There are just so many videos out there that lack any substance and it makes for good explanations hard to find.

  32. The Iberian peninsuela has always been divided, and it always will be. It was so, under pagan rule, under pre-Islamic Christian rule, under Islamic rule it ended up dividing as well, and it will so in the current Christian/Secular rule.

  33. It is so strange to see a video about Spain made by non Spanish that has no mistakes. I'm still picky about it saying Catalan is 'distantly' related to French but I'll let that slide. It's a great video. Kudos to you

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