›  Intergovernmental relations in Spain: the case of bilateral negotiations

Intergovernmental relations in Spain: the case of bilateral negotiations

  • Grau, Mireia (Institut d’Estudis de l’Autogovern – Barcelona)
  • Sanjaume-Calvet, Marc (Institut d’Estudis de l’Autogovern – Barcelona)



In Spain, the current context of institutional crisis subject to increasing recentralizing pressures, on the one hand, and secessionist trends on the other (Grau, 2010), intergovernmental conflicts have become the rule, especially the constitutional challenges that either central government or the governments of the autonomous communities file before the Constitutional Court, illustrating the failure of political arenas as problem-solving structures. In this paper we would like to shed light on the role of a particular bilateral mechanism aimed at mediating in constitutional disputes on legislation involving central government and autonomous-community executives: the bilateral commissions of cooperation (bilateral commissions from now onwards). In our research we have analysed the activity and outputs of the bilateral commissions for the period 2007-2015 in Spain. Using data from official sources (BOE, Official State Gazette) and secondary literature, we have built a database which contains all negotiations on Spanish-wide and autonomous-community legislation since 2007. The analysis has been addressed to identify some general trends and patterns regarding the activity and the outputs of these mechanism, paying special attention to two aspects: the type of legislation on dispute (Spanish-wide or autonomous-community) and the type of output: agreement (and which type of agreement) or conflict (i.e. the filing of a constitutional challenge before the Constitutional Court). Secondly the analysis has been oriented to connect these trends and patterns with the features, working and evolution of the Spanish territorial system. The third and final aim has been to produce some primary hypotheses. Our primary conclusions (still in progress) is that the use of the bilateral commissions, initially clustered around few autonomous communities, has become broad and general, although the patterns of behaviour and outputs differ significantly. Central government predominant position has been clearly identified when, in principle these mechanisms should be among equals.

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