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A perspective on the autonomous state

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José Luis Meilan Gil. Retired professor of administrative law at the University of A Coruña, which was Rector

The configuration of the autonomous state is being questioned. In the case of the agreement of the Catalonian Parliament, declared unconstitutional for the declaration of start of a process of creating an independent Catalan state, we are talking about total rejection. In others, as yet only proposals, the need for replacement or reform of the Constitution arises. To evaluate the possible constitutional reform it makes sense to start from the present, because from this base we project the future and this cannot be understood without the past. This apparent play on words can be explained because we need to know what autonomous State we want to change or reform.

Perhaps surprisingly, the autonomous state that exists today is not what is in the Constitution. I have argued this legally in a book published this year, "The redirected itinerary of the autonomous State and its future", in my condition as an academic and constituent. Now it is "coffee for everyone", the fair and widespread product of an agreement between the and the Calvo Sotelo government, and the Socialist Party that I deliberately termed a "constitutional coup", breaking the initial consensus. It was a result of, other interests aside, the conviction that in implementing this generalization it would reabsorb the Catalonian problem.

To do this, backed up by a very authoritative scientific doctrine, articles of the constitution were ignored, others were deprived of meaning, which is impossible to justify, a key article for the operation was made to say literally what it did not say, whose meaning was clear in parliamentary debates. That article, 150.2 allows transferring State powers to the Autonomous Regions. It does not take an expert to recognize that this is a part of everything, that is to say, powers. If we insist on this, it is because neither the political parties nor opinions published, including many constitutionalists, recognize that there has been an alteration of the constitutional model.

It seems unrealistic to return to the same constitutional model

This model, with peculiar constraints of some pre-autonomies and consensus on the drafting, started with the opening parenthesis of the Constitution of 1931 and interrupted in 1939. Three territories, to varying degrees, have expressed their desire to be autonomous. For the Constitution, the second transitional provision that I had the honour to defend, did not have to reiterate it. It was impeccable logic that the Constitution should offer the other territories the opportunity to present a specific desire to be autonomous through a majority. This was not reached in Andalusia and there began the first violation of the Constitution, afterwards widespread. The difference between the different Autonomous Regions was not limited to the speed at which they would obtain the maximum of powers provided in the Constitution, which has been repeated insistently but, and this is fundamental to understanding the current reality, only those who were exempt from following this procedure or they had already done it, could count on having a Parliament. The generalization and transfer full powers are not provided for in the Constitution whose reform is called for.

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