Renegotiating the state of autonomies: statute reform and multi-level politics in Spain

Michael J Keating, Alex B Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


The regional/national question is central to Spanish politics, where different conceptions of the state co-exist. The 1978 Constitution sets out different paths to autonomy, although the end point is similar. State-wide parties have sought to contain autonomy and to make regional statutes uniform. Territorial parties in the historic nationalities have sought to maintain a differential status, while other regions have sought to catch up, creating a competitive dynamic. The recent round of statute reform involved more parties and more complex politics than previous rounds, with an active role for regional governments. Regional political elites used statute reform to make symbolic assertions and resource claims, as well as to demand more competences. Competition among regional elites to gain more symbolic status and substantive powers creates centrifugal dynamics. On the other hand, the normalisation of territorial politics at both centre and periphery may be an integrative factor. The dominance of parties is also a reflection of the weak institutionalisation of territorial relations and intergovernmental conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-558
Number of pages23
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number3
Early online date28 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009


  • Spain
  • devolution


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