Lion at the main entrance to the Congress of the Deputies


Prime Minister Sánchez: “We are commemorating a framework that has enabled us to understand one
another from a position of diversity, encouraged social harmony and underpinned the
foundations of Spain. The Spanish Constitution allows the exploration of
pathways  towards agreement, it allows the
achievement of major consensus


Text source: La Moncloa -Gobierno de España
Photos: various sources 

As the Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day) approaches, one of the only two national public holidays in Spain, the chiefs of the executive and the legislative branches are telling the people in which spirit the 40th anniversary of the Constitution should be celebrated. Not surprisingly, they repeatedly use words like dialogue, reconciliaton and pluralism. In so doing they reflect the prevailing sentiments throughout Spain with the exception of Catalonia where the population is split between the pro- and the anti-independence factions, as well as those who seek vengeance against the radical Catalans who have been breaking the rules of constitutional coexistence.

Though the slogan for this anniversary of the Constitution, which was drafted on 31 October 1978 and ratified overwhelmingly in a referendum on 6 December of the same year, is “ 40 years of democracy, 40 years of freedom,” it could as well be  something like “There’s room for everyone under the Constitution.” And that’ alluding to the Catalans who want out.

Live together in the spirit of the Spanish Consitution

Ana Pastor, Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament (Congress of the Deputies), said that “commemorating the Spanish Constitution means celebrating our reconciliation, our freedom and our progress . . . We want this commemoration to serve as a launchpad for renewing our commitment to social harmony and our main democratic principles.”

Pastor added: “[The] desire to live together in the spirit of the Spanish Constitution has brought us many very positive things, and reflects our commitment to continue down that path towards building an increasingly better Spain”.

Pastor went on to say that “the people of Spain have decided to make a commitment to a Spain of rights, freedom, well-being, development, and political, social and cultural pluralism“.


Activities for celebrating 40 years of the Spanish Constitution

Ana Pastor has announced some of the activities being organized to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution during the final months of this year.

In late November and in partnership with the Reina Sofía Museum, there will be an exhibition entitled “The Power of Art”. Before that, on 20 October, 8 PM – 11 PM, there’ll be a pop-rock concert of Spanish music at the Puerta de los Leones, Congress of the Deputies.

A commemorative concert presided by the King and Queen of Spain will take place at the National Auditorium on 5 December, at which a musical piece composed specifically for the 40th anniversary commemoration will be presented. On 6 December, Spanish Constitution Day, an institutional event with extraordinary status will be held in Congress.


Rule of law and internal plurality

For his part, the Speaker of the Upper House of Parliament (Senate), Pío García-Escudero, highlighted the need to underscore the vital importance of the Spanish Constitution in terms of freedom, democracy, fundamental rights, the rule of law and political recognition of the essential internal plurality of Spain within its unquestionable unity as a nation.


Pathways towards social harmony

The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, believes there’s more to the celebration than the commemorating the 40th anniversary of a legal text: We are commemorating a framework that has enabled us to understand one another from a position of diversity, encouraged social harmony and underpinned the foundations of Spain. The Spanish Constitution allows the exploration of pathways towards agreement, it allows the achievement of major consensus provided that we are capable of the necessary dialogue from a position of generosity . . .”

Sánchez believes that “one cannot govern for only half of the population. One cannot unilaterally alter the framework of social harmony that we all built for ourselves and protects us all. One cannot repeatedly ignore the other party.


Eye-witnesses of history

Upper part: Ruins of the Battle of the Ebro in the municipality of Corbera de’Ebre in Catalonia’s Terra Alta

Sánchez presented a video with a clear message of reconciliation through two very special people who have been there in the last century of Spanish history. Germán and José fought on opposing sides of the Civil War which lasted from 1935 to 1939. But 40 years ago, they were given the chance to vote for the Spanish Constitution. Today, happily, they’re still around to celebrate the Constitution’s 40th anniversary.

José Mir Salas, from Mequinenza in Zaragoza, is 98 years old and served in the People’s Republican Army, forming part of what was called the “Quinta del Biberón”, young soldiers called up to fight for the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. Germán Visús lives in Fayón, also in Zaragoza, is 102 years old and fought with the Nationalist Army. Between July and November 1938 the two men slugged it out in the Battle of the Ebro where tens of thousands died or were wounded. And yet today they chat politely and without resentment, reliving different moments of a single story.


Featured image/Rafesmar, CC BY-SA3.0
Corbera d’Ebre ruins/Manzel Zaera, CC BY-SA2.0, cropped