Santiago González-Varas: Madrid!


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Measures are announced to install public institutions, from Madrid, to other territories of the State. There is even talk (ignorantly) of the need for decentralization, as if Spain were a centralist state that needs to transfer institutions from the capital to other places. It is opportune to relate this type of proposal to Germany, as it is the only European State that is useful for this debate, since, for example, the Constitutional Court is not in Berlin but in Karlsruhe or the best universities are not necessarily in the capital, etc. Now, as in Spain generally in these comparative debates ‘it is played by ear’, it should be noted that these types of measures in Germany have repercussions in favor of a greater articulation of the State by extending

this one its branches to the different territories of the nation. And it is that this type of decisions can, depending on the meaning they acquire, contribute to strengthening the State, or weakening it. In Germany this works by also serving the greater mobility; and greater mobility favors the unitary interests of the German state.

In a country like Germany, where previously it is possible to eliminate any political-identity sign in the Länder (including, of course, the languages), ‘decapitalizing’ (so to speak) strengthens the interests of the nation. On the other hand, in a State like ours (where an identity politics of certain regions or territories is practiced), decapitalization is understood in the context of the greatest (if possible) weakening of the State. Let no one be deceived. It is clear that this is what the government partners want. In this context, the Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, wants to bring pieces from museums in Madrid to the autonomous communities. Of course, in a country like ours nobody, on the other hand, even considers the possibility of moving, for example, Catalan or Basque Country industries to Teruel or Soria. Or even from Barcelona to Lleida.

In Spain is the judiciary and Madrid. It is understood that both suffer strong stakes. People speak and act with great arrogance, as if in Spain we had not suffered for decades from a trend of political strengthening of certain territories of the periphery against the Spain of the interior.

In conclusion, as long as there are separatists, it is a mistake to ‘decapitalize’ Spain and take weight away from the capital. If this factor did not exist, decapitalization would indeed be a success. But then, it is quite clear… neither the Government nor its partners would propose it!

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Santiago González-Varas is a professor of administrative law, doctor in Dresden, Humdoldt Scholar, former professor in Freiburg

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