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INSTITUTIONS, POLICIES AND NATION BUILDING: THE
Regional and federal Studies Vol. 10, 1, Spring 2000, pp.62-91
University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
1. Institutions matter: the politics of recognition and nation-building.
Recently various European regions or nationalities "without a state" have achieved
levels of self-government long sought after. The appearance of various recognition policies
due to the pressure of regionalist or nationalist mobilisation have led some scholars to -all too
often- non-critically accept the positions of the nationalist leaders; i.e.: the underlying
assumption that the nation is an objective fact historically consolidated around the presence of
a series of "objective" factors (linguistic, cultural, geographical, economic, etc.). Thus
nationalist movements and the institutions of self-government that they eventually achieve
merely constitute the external expression of that pre-existing collective identity.
In contrast, the most recent research on the field manifests the social and political
constructed, non-essentialist nature of nations from the “raw material” of a previous specific
ethnicity (Gurr 1993, Llobera 1999, Smith 1998, Stavenhagen 1996). Nations are not the
starting point of a mobilisation that aspires to self-government but rather the open outcome of
a complex process of political, organisational, discursive and institutional genesis. It is not
the nation that generates the nationalism, but rather the regionalist or nationalist mobilisation
that, in certain social and institutional settings, produces and extends a collective national
identity. The principal factors that concur during the processes of nation-building include
certain cultural preconditions or "ethnicity" such as language, memories, myths and symbols;
socio-economic activators of the defence of common interests: economic crisis, higher level
of development than the neighbour areas... ; a favourable political opportunity structure
(openness of the polity, availability of new electoral support by electoral dealignments,
presence of allies and support groups, divisions within the ruling elite ...); and especially the
availability of a certain level of self-government or institutionalised politics of recognition,
along with an efficient discursive and organisational mobilisation of all this potential (Máiz
In this article we focus on the nationalising effects of the institutional factor,
exemplified in the case of Galicia (Spain). Our point of departure are the neo-institutionalist
theses that institutions not only restrict the range of possible courses of action available to the
actors, but even generate and produce collective interests and identities (March & Olsen,
Dimaggio & Powell). In this way institutions do not merely express, but also efficiently
constitute national interests and identities. In regards to self-government, the institutions are
not simply an external effect of a pre-existing nation, but instead should be understood as an
internal and decisive factor in nation-building. Thus the equivocal nature of referring to
nationalities or regions with a substantial level of self-government as “regions” or "nations
without a state" due to the formal absence of its own state. Using this widespread
terminology we miss the substantive efficiency and responsibility of the institutions for self-
government, beyond mere voicing and defending a particular set of interests, in creating the
regional and national collective identities.
In contrast with the notion of preferences that are exogenous to the political process,
complete or transitive, rational-choice neo-institutionalism has emphasised the study of
endogenous preferences, analysing the process of preference formation so that not only the
strategies but also the goals actors pursue are shaped by the institutional context. Instead of a
previous self-evident fact, the preferences become problematic, something to be explained
(Steninmo, Thelen and Longstreth 1992). And in this explanation institutions play a decisive
role. In sum, the institutions of politics provide a larger part of the explanation than do
actor’s preferences (Dowding and King 1995).
For our purposes here the institutional constraints not only affect the policy making
capabilities of governments (Weaver and Rockman 1993), but also the capacities, orientations
and preferences of the individual and collective actors (Scharpf 1997), which are structurally
induced by the institutional context and thus become strategic. Image 1 below graphically
illustrates the model that we use as point of reference for this work.
In regards to nationalist or ethnic regulatory policies, the institutional context provided
by federalism, territorial autonomy or consociationalism supplies a democratic manner of
handling territorial pluralism. So while reinforcing the collective identity and encouraging
increased demands for decentralisation, determines an overnationalization of political
competition, so to speak, since it opens up the political opportunity structure that the
nationalist actors face, and urges a nationalist orientation from the territorial organisations of
the statist political parties, otherwise risking to become handicapped if not excluded of the
new scenario. We could speak here of an institutionally induced nationalism.
Image 1:The Institutional dimension of sub-nation building in Spain: a framework
(Source: own elabotation)
. Estado de las Autonomias
. European Union
-ECONOMIC & CULTURAL-
In Galicia's case, thanks to the Constitution of 1978 it has the status of an Autonomous
Community within the Spanish State of the Autonomies. This will show itself to be a
decisive circumstance, not so much in generating development which remains rather uneven,
but in the production of a Galician collective identity, the empowerment of nationalist
political parties and the "galicianization" of programs of all political parties. In sum, it acted
to create a "historical nationality", a “nation” where formerly a mere “region” composed of
four administrative provinces- A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra- existed.
We will attempt to demonstrate that the Spanish autonomic political system causes in
Galicia a dual and contradictory effect. First, (i) it provides resources and policies which
undoubtedly will influence the development level of the region. This effect tends to be,
however, very uneven and partial, given the frequent clientelist use of autonomic policies in
order to distribute divisible benefits as favors to local pockets of voters. Secondly, (ii) it
implies a progressive consolidation of an arena of competition for scarce resources and the
implementation of Galician national policies that will trace a new institutional, organizational
and symbolic setting.
This becomes translated into the perception that Galician collective and supralocal
interests are unique as such and in conflict with Madrid and Brussels, constituting a specific
national identity set and its corresponding potential for political mobilisation among the
electorate and the party subsystem.
2. The first steps of the autonomic regime and the initial weakness of the galician
Although Galicia has a strong ethnocultural base - its own distinctive language is
spoken by 90% and understood by 95% of the population and there is a broad gamut of uses,
customs, family structures and productive strategies - it lacks however a historic institutional
base. In contrast with the Basque fueros or the Generalitat of Catalonia, Galicia presents a
peculiar historic political-institutional deficit. The early inclusion of Galicia, within the
centralized territorial monarchy and the Spanish centralist State, meant a lack of historical
precedents in self-government and, consequently, of historical memories that might serve as
the mythic/symbolic basis for establishing a discourse about a lost Golden Age, in order to
demand “devolution”, autonomy or even independence.
The disempowering of the Junta del Reino de Galicia as a point of reference
constitutes good proof of this specific difference which, along with other economic and
political factors weighs upon Galician regionalism and nationalism from its very beginning
(Máiz 1984, Artaza 1999). This state of affairs will change radically with the transition to
democracy and the Constitution of 1978, with its quasi-federal State of the Autonomies model,
which established Galicia along with Catalonia and the Basque Country as "historic
nationalities" in the midst of the "Spanish nation".
The Royal Decree-Law of March 18, 1979 granted Galicia a Pre-autonomic status,
which included transferring concrete powers along with the corresponding human and
material resources. The transfer process ended on April 6, 1981, with the publication of the
Autonomy Statute. The Constitutional Court's doctrine held that the powers immediately
corresponded to and should be assumed directly by the autonomic institutions through the
procedure of transferring the corresponding material and human resources for the purpose of
implementation. These powers provide the Autonomous Community of Galicia with notable
levels of quasi-federal self-government and imply a very significant process of
decentralisation, distributed at three basic levels:
- Powers exclusive to the Autonomous Community: institutional organisation, territorial
organisation, urban policies, health, fishing in domestic waters, education, culture, etc.
- Shared powers: the State determines the bases for these powers and the Autonomous
Communities then legislatively assume and execute them. I.e. development and planning of
economic activity, industry, agriculture, corporate credit institutions and savings and loans
(cajas de ahorros), etc.
- Powers expressly reserved for the central state: international relations, defense, foreign
commerce, the monetary system, etc.
The institutional model for this Autonomous Community
(A.C.) follows the most
extended one among the Spanish A.C.'s. It is composed of a Legislative Assembly that
includes 75 representatives, a Governing Council (Xunta) that directs the Administration, and
a High Court of Justice integrated into the general organisation of the State Justice
Administration. The Parliament selects from among its members the President of the
Community, who in turn names and presides over the Governing Council.
During the first years (1979-1989) the political history of the Galician Xunta has been
characterised by instability due to the successive coalitions of the various political parties on
the scene. This has marked the uncertain development of its institutions and has meant that
administrative organisational problems regularly occupy a secondary position in the Galician
political leader's agendas. The political weakness evident in the birth of the Galician
and a political arena dominated by the state parties along with the
very limited and fragmented presence of strictly nationalist forces would generate throughout
the 80's a negotiation process for transferring resources that was subject to the priorities and
necessities of the Spanish Central Administration.
The overwhelming electoral victory of Manuel Fraga and the Popular Party (PP) in
1989, subsequently confirmed in 1993 and 1997, along with the strong rise of the almost non-
existent Bloque Nacionalista Galego (BNG) which abandoned its more radical, confederative
strategies implied a radical change in the Galician political panorama. The Parliamentary
configuration of the first and second legislative terms (1981-85/1985-89) presented no
political force with an absolute majority of the seats. During this time the governing parties
in relative majority experienced processes of internal fragmentation and progressive loss of
parliamentary support, with the concomitant political crisis and governmental instability. In
contrast, after the autonomic elections of 1989 the party led by Manuel Fraga held an absolute
majority in Parliament. For the first time a solid leader was at the helm of the Galician
government, based on stable and overwhelming parliamentary and social support along with
an indisputable position as leader - both within the Autonomous Government and his own
party - which the citizens also clearly perceived
. This gave rise to a new political senario, a
notably stable political period, which was translated into a broad legislative program and a
normal functioning of the Galician Xunta, and a progressive organsational and electoral
consolidation- via concentration of voting and ideological moderation- of and hegemonic
nationalist coalitional front-party: the Bloque Nacionalista galego (BNG) (Barreiro, 1999).
We return to this point later.
3. The socioeconomic evolution of Galicia: the modernization of a rural and migran
Historically Galicia has been a principally agrarian society. Not until the 70's will the
active population in the primary sector fall below 50% of the total population. This fact is of
particular relevance if we consider the sociological peculiarities of the Galician primary
- A self-centered economy and a strongly minifundist system. This complicated any
possibility of acquiring surpluses and innovating.
- A high degree of dispersal of the population among small nuclei in order to minimise
the costs of cultivating small plots of land and isolation due to deficient means of
communication. This generated a social space dominated by family relationships and a heavy
weight of traditions under clientelist-type relations along with grave deficiencies in training
- The migratory currents had a strong impact on the population since they provided an
escape from a situation lacking in opportunities due to a subsistence economy and a rural
society dominated by certain groups (Church, local elites, administration), each of which
ferociously resisted any attempt at modernization
. In the period between 1860 and 1970 an
estimated 1,193,476 people migrated from Galicia (Villares 1984), which also implied a
process of ageing and feminization of the population, since it is mainly the young people that
It is also important to realise that this society had a minimal level of industrialization.
Galicia entered the 20
century at a "disastrous starting point"
, a society dependent on a
strongly rural economy with weak industrial and urban development, an aging and uneducated
population, unlinked urban centres, no local bourgeoisie and not even an acceptable
communications system that might allow it to break out of local isolation (Cabrera 1994).
The first third of the century is a slow awakening process for the Galician economy,
due to the increase in commercial livestock business thanks to associationism, the arrival of
the railroad, and strong growth in fishing and associated industries. The Depression and II
Spanish Republic meant the beginning of serious problems in this tentative process: a
biological crisis in fishing resources, a fall in the price of beef and of the demand for canned
foods, and the bankruptcy of the weak regional banking system after the Great War. The
Civil War was ironically an era of splendour for the canning industry due to the demand for
military rations, but the years of Francoist autarky were a time of considerable social (and
economic and sociological) regress for Galicia.
Galicia was left outside the national economic arena, and no longer could fall back on
migration, thus generating a process of ruralization lasting over twenty years. Galicia
experienced a veritable great step backwards, paralysing the transformation of the agricultural
and cattle-raising sectors (Carmona 1996, p.8) and returning to an agrarian subsistence
economy with primacy of everything local, dependent and clientelist social relations in an
environment of social repression dominated by clearly reactionary elites and groups.
According to data from the Banco de Bilbao, during the decades of 1940-1960 Galicia
decreased its portion of the national GNP by 1.21 points.
EVOLUTION IN THE SIZE OF THE GALICIAN ECONOMY
EVOLUTION OF NATIONAL ECONOMY IN GALICIA
Source: BBV, INE e IVIE
1955 1964 1975 1985 1996
Billones d pesetas de
The Economic Stabilization Plan of the Francoist technocracy meant in Galicia the
introduction of the first networks of agricultural commercialisation, beginning a process of
modernization and a complex and inconsistent process of concentrating agricultural property.
The production began to reach surplus levels, a timid process of industrial growth began,
based once again on the industries derived from the sea -especially frozen fish. A new
migratory process also began, this time centred on Madrid, Catalonia, Euskadi and the centre
Table 1 provides an eloquent image of the evolving pattern of active population from
1960 on. With the exception of the Spanish economy's recession period at the end of the 80's,
growth has been sustained in the industrial sector and especially in services, although less
than the average growth in the rest of Spain. As an aside, we may highlight that the majority
of the new industry is centred on primary resources: natural resources, energy and the
workforce, so that its capacity to generate new inter-industrial relations and gross added value
to the economy as a whole may be limited .
TABLE 1: Evolution of the Active Population by Sectors of Activity
(Source: Cabrera, Galician Institute of Statistics)
1960 1981 1989 1991
67.74% 48.60% 46.70% 40.20%
16.1% 27.44% 23.74% 25.90%
16.16% 33.96% 39.56% 43.90%
In spite of its weaknesses, this tandem tendency toward a decreasing primary sector
and growing industrial and service sectors implies greater urban concentration and
development, not only in the leading cities but also in the county seats. It has also meant the
construction of infrastructures, an improvement in communications and in the long run a
creation of opportunities to overcome the local predominance.
However, in Galicia this process demonstrates a peculiar characteristic of important
consequence: development and industrialisation did not result in an exodus from the
. The introduction of capitalism took place in accord with and taking advantage
of the minifundist distribution, due to slow industrial development (Pérez Touriño 1983).
This process generated the following main effects:
- Backwardness in the formation of a modern urban network.
- An urban development marked by a unique symbiosis with the rural element,
where we find workers that maintain agricultural activity and property.
- Backwardness in the consolidation of a clearly urban culture, resulting in a
slow process of modernisation of rural social practices.
In sum, after the era of Spanish economic development, Galicia faced the phenomenal
changes that the transition to democracy would bring as a society with a weak and primitive
economy that could not compare with the Spanish national averages in economic value,
modernisation and opportunities. It remained strongly influenced by migratory flows and
weak consolidation of the urbanisation process, along with poor communications and serious
deficiencies in its infrastructures.
The 80's constitute a substantial step forward in the peculiar process of modernisation
of the Galician economy. The primary sector looses significance - although it still maintains a
much greater weight (over double) than the Spanish average. There is clear progress towards
terciarization of the economy, which becomes the most significant process in the Galician
economy during that decade (García González-Llanos 1996). The only sector where a
significant increase in demand occurs is the service sector, which becomes the engine driving
the concentration and urbanization process in Galicia. It becomes the most important chapter
in employment and thus in some degree absorbs the crises, recessions and decreasing
employment that other sectors experience:
- The agricultural crisis caused by a lack of competitiveness and structural deficiencies,
along with changes in the competitive scene due to integration into the European Common
Market and the Common Agricultural Policy, with its regular ups and downs. These factors
joined to cause significant changes in the framework for certain activities, causing a
worsening of the productivity vis-à-vis the rest of the Spanish agricultural sector along with
weaker growth in income. All this has been aggravated by the meager access of the Galician
agricultural sector to public aid. (López Iglesias 1996).
- The fishing crisis: caused both by the integration into the European Community and by
the expulsion from traditional fishing grounds, due to these countries taking control of them,
which has led to a profound restructuring of both the fishing fleets and the size of this sector
(González Laxe 1996, Losada 1998).
- The industrial crisis: caused by the decreasing demand in the traditional areas of
Galician industrial activity (e.g. naval construction due to Asian competition and industrial
restructuring by the central government, timber industry, etc.). This has resulted in volatile
and uneven demand in the industrial sector due to its structural weakness, intensive use of
energy, low degree of transformation and weak internal structuring (Papeles de Economía
- A persistence of problems in infrastructures and communications. This is one of the
main obstacles to economic development, modern production and territorial articulation of the
country (Pérez Touriño 1996). The slow improvement of access to Galicia by road, the
deterioration of railroad connections, the high cost of improving communications along with
the problems caused by Galicia's geographical and orographical location have resulted in
public investment strategies by the autonomic institutions that emphasize improvements in
infrastructure over solutions to industrial deficiencies (López Facal 1996).
TABLE 2: Evolution of the structure of the Galician economy
(Source: Papeles de Economía Española)
VAB (%) 1955 1975 1981 1985 1991 1995
Agriculture 36.2 17.8 12.8 11.4 9.1 7.8
Industry 19.1 25.8 22.7 23.8 21.9 20.3
Building 7.2 8.5 9.0 7.4 11.4 11.7
Services 37.5 47.9 55.5 57.4 57.6 60.2
These changes have also implied an increasing internationalization of the Galician
economy, a notable increase in imports and exports, an improvement in regional coverage
rates in spite of persistent deficiencies thanks to a successful commercial implementation of
the automotive, agriculture, food and textile industries, mainly in Community markets such as
northern Portugal and France (Cristeto 1996).
The Galician economy has experienced a process of adaptation and structural change.
However, since these changes have also occurred in the rest of Spain with similar intensity
they have not meant any significant variation in the relative position of the Galician economy,
which raises questions about the overall efficiency of the process and the adequacy of the
policies implemented by the various administrations.
In this process, the creation of the Administration and the high level of self-
government have constituted one of the determining factors in the evolution of the Galician
economy. It has had significant implications concerning decisions on distribution and
allocation of public resource expenditures formerly disbursed by the Central Government,
especially the capitalization of the productive and social infrastructures (Corbacho 1996). It
has also had political implications concerning the capacity to interconnect and manage the
interests of the various productive and social sectors of Galicia within national and European
4. The socio-economic impact of Autonomy: regional public policies and the rise of a
galician collective identity
4.1. Autonomic policies
The beginning of the Autonomous Community and the high level of self-government
that it provided became for several reasons one of the determinant factors in the evolution of
the Galician economy. It also had a political impact due to the new capacity to articulate and
manage the interests of the various productive and social sectors of Galicia in the national and
European policy arenas. We must remember that the Community's sector policies (Common
Agricultural Policy, Common Fishing Policy, structural development policies, ERDF funds,
etc.) have become the principal frame of reference for development in the productive areas of
the Galician economy. These policies define the limits (degree of public support and
intervention, regulatory limits, level of protection from competition, etc.) and also the
resources available for its development - especially financial ones. Financial resources are of
significant relevance due to the weak Galician economy's dependence on public resources and
the fact that almost 50% of the Community funds are administered directly by the
Autonomous Community (see table 3).
TABLE 3: ERDF FUNDS FOR GALICIA
(Source: Ministerio de Economía y Hacienda, in millions of pesetas).
98.487,86 89.914,66 91,3 254.453,98 35,3
20.252,75 12.783,36 63,1 56.342,81 22,7
1.452,42 971,03 66,9 3.954,83 24,6
Agriculture and Rural
1.627,62 1.627,27 100 3.247,61 50,1
546,85 678,43 124,1 1.814,48 37,4
26.761,65 23.082,59 86,3 55.620,41 41,5
5.9085,69 3.067,58 17,8 12.070,11 25.4
222,60 39,70 17,8 868,87 4,6
The Galician Xunta has broad regional powers, comparable to Catalonia and Euskadi,
that are at a par with the maximum available under the State of the Autonomies model. Table
4 clearly identifies the increasing management capacity and activity of the autonomic
institutions within the entire economic activity of the public sector, getting ever closer to the
expenditure levels of the central government, and thus impacting the entire economic activity
of the Galician region. All of this forms part of - and is a result of - the breadth and depth of
self-government powers available to Galicia.
TABLE 4: EVOLUTION OF PUBLIC EXPENDITURES IN GALICIA
(In millions of pesetas. Source: Alvarez Corbacho 1996)
1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
53.874 398.771 428.332 457.894 562.972 645.157 10.509 679.700 760.066 804.342
113.822 137.646 155.120 181.076 240.179 288.917 468.396 607.727 645.590 653.810
73.619 82.189 82.577 105.961 135.666 142.585 164.166 177.044 190.106 196.129
541.315 618.606 666.029 744.931 938.817 1.076.
33.0 33.8 31.1 31.1 35.0 36.1 39.6 44.1 45.0 44.0
The Autonomous government and its institutions have implemented a broad spectrum
of policies that have had diverse impact:
(i) Innovation policies that supply increased net added value, such as fishing policies that
for the first time provide a global and coherent policy for the entire sector and a radical
transformation of the traditional legal framework. The leadership of the Autonomic
Administration was essential to carry out a process of deep reforms and modernization of the
whole sector (Losada 1998). This transformation resulted in the complete integration of the
Galician fishing industry into the Common Fishing Policy and access to IFOP funds (6.112
billion between 1994 and 1996).
(ii) More conventional but equally necessary policies such as:
a) improvements in infrastructures, especially road networks and industrial siting (over
a hundred programs for industrial siting were begun). Community funds (ERDF, EAGGF,
ESF, and LEADER and INTEREG programs - see table) have played a central role in
financing significant parts (usually between 40% and 60% but at times the entire project) of
the costs of much of the public works necessary to bring about these improvements. (The
impact of the ERDF funds in improving the Galician roads has been of special significance,
since they have co-financed virtually all these projects).
b) growth in educational and university options due to the creation of two new
universities (A Coruña and Vigo), the construction and inauguration of new primary and
secondary education and technical formation centres along with a revision of the study
c) development of telecommunications thanks to public media which has had notable
impact and relevance (in 1995 the budget of the Autonomic Television channel was around 10
billion pesetas). Mobile telephone networks have been established in good measure thanks to
Community funds (ERDF) that have supplied a significant part of the financial resources
necessary to modernize the communication networks.
d) development of the health system due to the creation of the regional health service
(SERGAS), a network of first aid centers, and legal changes in the normative framework
(General Health Bill, Pharmacy Law) along with new management techniques (separation of
financing and provision of services, use of quasi-private management of hospitals,
introduction of competition in the system, etc.).
The 90's had a significant impact on the basic progress indicators of this region, since
this is the decade of greatest autonomic development at every level. A brief analysis of these
indicators presents us with a scene of improvements in the principal welfare indicators.
Galicia has drawn progressively closer to the welfare average in the Spanish State, although it
still remains clearly behind in socioeconomic development, as has traditionally been the case.
Thus the regular reports on socioeconomic indicators elaborated by the EU still place Galicia
among the poorest regions of the Community with income levels that range between 50% and
60% of the Community average.
The autonomic policies are undoubtedly affecting this process, although an economic
development model that might address the traditionally relevant sectorial problems of the
Galician economy is lacking. Other problems include the need for strategic innovation and
definition of industrial activity, technological development, employment policies capable of
resolving unemployment problems, a need for new areas of economic activity that are truly
valuable in services, and a selection of priorities in renovating and modernising infrastructures
and transportation (for example the freeways from the national capital remain incomplete).
This general situation is aggravated by the ageing population, the presence of broad
segments of low-skilled workers, an increasingly competitive environment, weaknesses in the
civil society and dependence on public resources, and a situation of comparative disadvantage
when negotiating with the Central Administration for increasingly scarce state resources.
The following tables the main figures and resources employed in the development of
the most important policies implemented by the Galician Xunta.
TABLE 5: MAIN POLICY AREAS' SHARE OF THE AUTONOMIC BUDGET
(Source: official data; in pesetas)
1985 1989 1992 1994 1996 1997
5.044.358.312 9.039.474.000 25.521.117.000 26.082.419.000 24.275.308.000 14.593.616.000
13.684.733.231 35.932.631.000 52.071.826.000 60.124.618.000 48.424.859.000 50.354.300.000
149.804.527.000 175.600.396.000 200.786.056.000 205.432.797.000
36.695.514.000 40.762.059.000 35.183.058.000 49.338.632.000
4.321.490.000 8.177.030.000 9.012.863.000 16.485.090.000 17.558.605.000
6.122.329.400 8.876.854.000 11.799.867.000 9.225.229.000 21.602.462.000
4.181.884.911 8.786.003.000 42.430.635.000 38.802.425.000 39.775.095.000
126.108.921.463 280.102.002.453 360.665.299.000 422.328.135.000 429.340.806.000 458.421.030.000
TABLE 6: MAIN AUTONOMIC ORGANISMS' BUDGETS
(Source: official data; in pesetas; not included in the Xunta budget)
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
284.040.000 280.322.000 283.185.000 369.618.000 408.379.000 402.776.000 414.260.000 413.182.000
13.020.000.000 14.796.082.000 19.070.137.000
16.231.121.000 17.499.890.000 16.757.369.000 17.337.968.000 17.178.223.000
- 170.857.683.000 186.337.184.000
181.558.269.000 236.232.009.000 257.452.789.000 273.128.104.000 289.139.400.000
14.045.550.000 186.913.181.000 207.127.780.000 199.685.314.000 255.928.076.000 277.262.498.000 304.462.398.000 337.006.274.000
The autonomic institutions have become central actors of great relevance in the
various areas of policy. The Autonomous Government also controls legal capacity to
intervene and regulate, along with a level of economic and financial resources that have
become central to resolving the deficiencies and absences in the Galician economy. This has
impacted its evolution and the bulk of the private sector as it channels public grants,
especially those of the EU, administrative and fiscal regulation, granting of licenses, etc.
An examination of the transfer of resources carried out by the autonomic institutions
to the private sector allows us to gain a rather exact idea of the growing importance that
autonomy has had from the perspective of the Galician business world. In 1996 the private
sector received 29.586 billion pesetas in transfers of capital and 19.475 billion pesetas in
current transfers (total: 49.061 billion). The most important chapters in these transfers were
those dedicated to education (17.159 billion), industry (6.675 billion) and agriculture (11.455
billion). In analysing these expenditures by categories, the figures indicate that the bulk of
the transfers were used in programs to improve competitiveness (8.232 billion), encourage
production (9.581 billion) and support services (electrification: 3.259 billion)
. Due to the
generic nature of the objectives, these programs allow a broad margin of discretion for the
Autonomic Administration to decide selection and granting criteria.
This capacity to influence is multiplied due to the development and consolidation of
an increasingly powerful technical and bureaucratic structure that serves the autonomic
In addition, we must consider the number of personnel working in autonomic
organisms of such relevance and weight as the SERGAS (health personnel), the IGVS
(housing policy management), the CRTVG (Autonomic Radio and Television Company).
Along with the educational personnel (basic, middle and university education) which depends
in one way or another upon the Xunta both at a budget level as well as professionally. The
volume of these figures and the quality of their members (technicians, professionals of
various sorts, experts, civil servants, etc.) provide an idea of the weight that these
administrative corps' attain in a socio-economic context such as Galicia's, whether due to its
control capacity, the mobilisation of resources, or above all the technical and professional
support that it provides, in order to create opportunities in the majority of the productive areas
of the region, which have clearly been affected by severe deficits in this realm.
Thus we may state that the 80's were marked by administrative growth, greater
instability and a low or intermediate degree of institutional development while the 90's have
meant - from the perspective of consolidation of autonomic institutions - a marked stability, a
high degree of institutional development, modernisation of the administration and its
management techniques, and management of human resources and procedures (Bouzas,
For Galicia both decades have been times of significant advances in modernisation
and urbanisation, as mentioned already. A process of consolidation of urban nuclei took
place along with a visible process of improvement and growth in communication links. The
road network increased by 70%, the number of vehicles by 60%, and the Autonomous
Community created and established a public media. All of this completely ended the
traditional isolation of the rural world. In addition, the effects of the progressive return of a
significant part of the immigrant population can be perceived, as these people have a greater
tendency to perceive the Galician social environment as something global due to the
distances formerly among them.
Although this aspect of the modernisation process is relevant, no less significant is the
impact produced by the very limits, precariousness and problems, that characterise the
process (Máiz 1996). The restructuring of shipbuilding as a consequence of the industrial
policies of the Central Government, the crisis of the agricultural and fishing sectors - within
the frame of Community integration and the Common Agricultural and Fishing Policies that
determine a radical change in the traditional regulatory frame for these areas - along with the
grave problem of unemployment have all generated conflicts both in the urban nuclei as well
as in the traditionally non-mobilized farming sector. At the beginning of the 80's Galicia was
the A.C. with the lowest unemployment rate in Spain, while today the Galician level of
occupation has decreased and the number of unemployed- 10% in 1999- has almost tripled
(Linares 1996). Due to these dynamics, a clear perception and feeling has arisen among broad
social strata that there is a Galician economic area with specific interests that are favoured by
the A.C., and that a potential conflict exists between these "Galician" interests and the
policies of the Central Government (“Madrid” labeled)or those of the European Union
institutions (“Europe” labeled).
This has resulted in a scenario of conflict where the trade unions, not only those of
nationalist tendency, and the active members of the nationalist parties play an especially
relevant role, which has encouraged their involvement and consolidation. If economic
modernisation is at the base of the process of overcoming localist identities, the successive
crises in the traditional sectors of economic activity in Galicia have contributed in good
measure to the establishment and social representation of the limits of a new collective
identity (Cabrera 1994, Máiz 1996).
The policies and strategies applied by the autonomic institutions have also played a
prominent role in this sense, functioning:
(i) as an economic or technical support in the conflict areas
(ii) as a spokesperson, articulating specific needs and voicing demands before the
Central Administration or the Community and international institutions.
Finally, in reference to the structural requirements for financing the public sector,
Galicia falls under the Common Regime for the Autonomous Communities, which was
developed in the Organic Law for Financing the Autonomous Communities, in addition to a
specific financing method for the area of health care. In 1996 80.4% of the Autonomous
Community's income was derived from transfers from the Central Administration, while
19.6% was income from own sources. Concerning expenditures we find that consumption
reaches a striking 80% while only 12% is committed to investment.
The European Structural Funds play a significant role in the Galician economy, both
quantitatively and qualitatively.
In tandem there has been increasing reliance on debt as a
source of income. Among the A.C.'s that fall under article 151 of the Spanish Constitution,
Galicia's debt, at 9.3% of its GNP, is the highest, while the average is at 7%.
TABLE 7: Evolution of real investment in the Galician A.C.
(In millions of pesetas. Source: Galician Xunta, FIES Foundation, Alvarez Corbacho 1996)
Concept 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
98.533 101.679 105.091 93.074 94.431
3.135.097 3.313.812 3.544.307 3.753.861 4.035.944
3.14 3.06 2.96 2.48 2.29
4.2. Autonomic performance and nation building
There are not many sources providing information on the level of service and
institutional performance of the Spanish A.C.'s, or the degree of satisfaction of their citizens.
There are abundant opinion surveys in the press and recurring debates and public polemics,
but in general there is a dearth of information on the quality of output of the State of the
From the standpoint of Public Policy Analysis, the report carried out by the
Autonomic Performance Team (ERA) is to be highlighted. Its first findings were published
in 1997 within the 1996 Spain Report (Informe España) of the Encuentro Foundation. The
reports provides some interesting figures about the main perceptions of Galicians during the
80´s and the begining of the 90´s.
There seems to be a progressive increase in acceptance by Galicians of the level of
autonomy that they perceive to have. In 1984 only 19% of the Galicians stated that they were
satisfied with the degree of autonomy achieved, while in 1992 this percentage had increased
to 31%. In regards to identification and a sense of belonging, 55% of Galicians declare
themselves to be as Spanish as Galician in 1992 while 23% felt more Galician. However, we
observe a slight but sustained decreasing tendency in the public perception of a need for a
greater degree of autonomy, which in the data has gone from 42% in 1984 to 40% in 1992
(Informe ERA 1997).
Galicians are among the Spaniards that most relevance accord to the decisions
adopted by their Autonomous Government. According to CIS data, in 1992 62% of Galicians
considered that the decisions taken by the Xunta affected them much or quite a bit (very
similar percentages to those of Catalonia, Navarre and Euskadi). 63% had the same opinion
concerning the decisions by the Central Government and 64% concerning their city hall.
Galicia is located among those A.C.'s that attain an intermediate level of satisfaction
from the functioning of its Autonomous Government (Informe ERA 1997, p.517).
Concerning the report card for its government in 1992, according to the results elaborated by
the ERA team from CIS data, 14% of Galicians considered that it had done a good or very
good job, 51% said average and 20% said poor. These are similar to the grades given the
Central Government (13%, 49% and 24% respectively) and the city halls (21%, 43%, 15%
Leaving behind the realm of perceptions, we now move on to a description of the
juridical development of the Autonomous Community. The legislative activity of this A.C.
has been intense. Between 1981 and 1995 a total of 146 laws have come into effect,
constituting an annual average of 9.7 laws, which places Galicia in fifth place in legislative
activity after the A.C.'s of Navarre, Catalonia, Madrid and the Basque Country (ERA Data
1997). Of these, 74 can be considered entirely innovative laws in content and extent of reach,
while four of them regulate new areas for the first time (ERA Report 1997). The Autonomic
Performance Team (ERA) in its Report to the Encuentro Foundation on Spain in 1996
classified this legal activity as interventionist (out of 146, 50 may be categorized in this
manner) more than regulatory, which seems to be a common characteristic among those
communities with a lower level of socioeconomic development and availability of resources
(ERA Report 1997). These laws have several characteristics: (i) a significant presence of
"institutional design" content, that is, the creation of semiautonomous institutional spheres
for managing and providing public services that are considered strategically relevant for the
community; and (ii) a significant degree of institutional socialization in that they incorporate
the creation of certain concrete participation channels for the official sectors or affected
This situation illustrates clearly one of the problems that sooner or later Galicia must
deal with: defining the terms of the relationship between the public powers and civil society.
The Xunta has grown rapidly and intensely, gaining increasing resources and occupying an
ever broader range of activities and areas. Along with the process of consolidation of the
Partido Popular (PP) in the government through solid networks of clientelist exchange
relations between the Xunta and its citizens, this has allowed it to occupy an increasingly
significant space in a civil society that has not typically been known for its robustness. The
growing levels of subsidies and public intervention of the autonomic institutions in every area
- economic, social, cultural, educational, etc. - have generated a dynamic of increasing
dependence of civil society on public action. This dynamic would seem to raise serious
questions concerning the future and the need to re-evaluate the role of the public powers in
light of scarce resources, which requires overcoming clientelism as a form of political
Clientelist practices involve an exchange of favours (public works, subsidies, facilities
in obtaining licenses, paralysis of the urban planning…) for votes and political support for the
P.P. This generates a subsystem of political networks, a peculiar, informal "social capital"
that implies not only the squandering of a good amount of resources, due to lack of
rationalization of the public intervention. But also erosion of the normal functioning of the
democratic institutions and the party system (Máiz 1993, 1996). Recents studies found
convincing empirical evidence - through use of official data analyzed by means of statistical
regression - on the predominance of political/electoral variables in the distribution of the
discretional autonomic investments - which add up to some 30 billion/year in the 90's. The
weak weight of the normative criteria that legitimate the public discourse and territorial
solidarity contrasts with the official rhetoric claiming that the principal criteria for
distribution of investments is the level of population scattering and of per capita income.
Instead, the decisive issue in the territorial allotment of funds is a series of political variables
(same political tendency as the Autonomous Government and Local Government, volume of
votes obtained in the electoral district by the party ruling the A.C.). This dynamic has
substantial effects on equality, institutional collaboration and interterritorial solidarity
(Corbacho and Veiga, 1999).
During the 90´s, the Autonomic Institutions constitute one of the key variables that
have altered and continue altering the social preconditions by helping to create a political
opportunity structure that is favourable to nationalist development (clearly visible in the
electoral results and the evolution of the main parties) and contributing to the process of
political, organisational and discursive construction or "production" of the "Galician nation".
We assume that the nation is not something natural or given, but rather the outcome of a
process of social and political construction (Máiz 1998). This occurs by:
1. The consolidation and institutionalisation of a differential ethnic base
(language, culture, history, institutions) upon a pre-existing "raw material" which is
conveniently elaborated and redefined, mostly through institutional action by the A.C.:
linguistic normalisation, creation of its own services and media, history an literature
2. The mobilisation of resources and its impact on the social and economic
preconditions: greater social mobility and supralocal communication, a significant volume of
financial/legal/technical/informative resources, formation of a matrix of common interests,
3. The recreation of a new political opportunity structure: greater access to
institutions - creation of new institutional space: regional elections, social councils,
foundations, co-ordination mechanisms between administrations, etc. greater political
participation, electoral availability of voters disenchanted with “centralist” policies of PP and
4. The creation of new nationalist "interpretation frames" and institutionalisation
of them through specific policies (education, communication, culture, etc.): “galeguidade”,
“Galiza Terra única”, “Administración Unica” etc.
In view of this, it seems relatively possible to identify certain policies, their results
and outcomes (see table 8) as examples that operate in this fashion, directly and exclusively
resulting from the autonomic activity and deriving in significant impact upon the construction
process of a broadly assumed national identity. This contributes to develop a certain political
self-image as a broadly assumed collective identity that becomes sufficient to reach the mass
A detailed analysis of this preliminary information allows us to formulate the
hypothesis which can even be initially confirmed that the policies carried out by the Galician
Xunta and their relative success are contributing to the institutional consolidation of the
Autonomous Community. And this, in turn, brings about certain relevant effects on, what we
might label the "political, institutional and identity production" (Máiz, 1997,p.14) of the
Galician nation. This process of construction may be understood as the combination of the
(i) political: the idea of nation and the defence of national interests as the
determinant factors in the legitimacy and representativeness of the political actors, the
parties; expansion of the political competition sphere centred around the national space, an
increase in the stability of the electoral alignments, open doors and access for the nationalist
forces to the institutions, incorporation of these elites into the process of institution building;
(ii) institutional: autonomous government and parliament, growth of the
nationalist or regionalist groups' organisational and material resources, expansion of the
institutional spaces that nationalist forces can have access to, capacity of these institutions to
compete in the national and supranational arenas for allocation of resources;
(iii) identity: discursive and mythic/symbolic processes perceiving a collective
national identity: traditions, History, culture, language, and with its own interests and
objectives based on "national" solidarity vis-à-vis other forms of collective solidarity (class,
etc.); legitimacy of national public policies and cultural homogenisation, development of a
center/periphery (Galicia/Madrid/Bruxelles) discourse and competition with other
nationalities for resources during a process of State of Autonomias and EU construction.
TABLE 8: THE IMPACT OF AUTONOMIC INSTITUTIONS ON NATIONAL IDENTITY
Arena Output Outcome “nation production”
1. Administrative and geographic identification of a common
2. Visible inter-regional competition for resources and
3. Integration of professional elite.
Increasing use of
1. Administrative and geographic identification of a common
2. Integration of professional elite.
3. Increasing use of a common language
4. Increasing culture identification
5. Institutionalisation of political and cultural nationalist
1. Institutionalisation of Galician language
2. Integration of professional elite.
3. Creation of a professional elite
4. Common administrative identification
5. Materialisation of a common identity
6. Creation of procedures
- creation of national
1. Increasing use of Galician language
2. mass diffusion of myths, symbols and tradictional culture
3. Creation of an audiovisual network based on lenguage
4. new arena for political competition
5. integration of professional and business elite
organisation of a key
1. Common identity: regional interest competing with foreign
2. Supranational conflcits for resources
3. Administrative and geographic identification of a common
Transport policy - Official Plan for
highways and roads
1. Breaking local isolation
2. optimising common space
1. Administrative and geographic identification of a common
These effects are directly caused by the influence of the policies implemented by the
A.C., and are almost entirely the outcome of them or at least have not arisen in this fashion
from other administrations. In turn, they:
- Obtain concrete results in substantial aspects of articulating a solid collective identity
and improving the degree of organisation of collective interests. This contributes to the
political, institutional and identity production of the nation through greater use and
institutionalization of the language, improvement in communications and a break with
localism, educational and cultural changes that introduce nationalist discursive elements,
institutionalization of the nationalist values and collective identity features: history, language,
culture, folklore, etc. In addition, economic/political/informative resources are mobilised in
support of the defence of "Galician interests" when competing with other interests (regional,
national, or European Community), etc.
- Achieve in many areas of public sector action (health, education, fishing, agriculture,
etc.) that the autonomic policies become the normative framework that provides the rules of
the game for the various actors, thus becoming the main frame of reference. Within its
confines the actors interact, handle conflict and reach agreements or become organised in
terms of a new common matrix of "Galician" interests built in good measure as a direct result
of autonomic institutional activity.
- Cause the main political, social and economic actors on the Galician political scenario
to deal directly and mainly at the autonomic realm, with the Autonomic Administration, in
order to handle and settle their problems, either by negotiation or conflict and confrontation.
Beyond this role of mediation, control and regulation, actors also turn to the autonomic
institution in order to seek representation of their interests in conflicts that go beyond the
strictly autonomic areas of competence, that require interrelations and competition with other
national and supranational interests, especially in the context of the European institutions, and
the formulation of the various Community policies (fishing, agriculture, structural, etc.). This
last aspect operates in turn as principal motor for joint action by the most prominent actors in
the various sectors, reaching the point of becoming almost an interest group or organized
actor. The active presence both at the national and European levels of the Autonomic
Administration through the Consellerías [ministries or departments] of Fishing, Agriculture,
Health, who often function as spokespersons or representatives of a certain activity in
Galicia, has contributed to reinforce the collective identity by giving support and linking a set
of particular and common interests, acting as an organized actor in defense of these interests.
- Contribute to the establishment of the Autonomic Administration as firmly grounded
among a set of actors who make use of its support, point of reference and even opposition.
Increasingly the various actors have given up questioning the legitimacy of autonomic
intervention and its authority, opting rather to frame their problems, needs and demands
before the Autonomic Administration, seeking its support in the case of conflicts with other
administrations, especially in the national, international and Community arenas.
Empirical data is beginning to support this argument that the management of the
autonomic policies has had an impact on the perceptions of the Galicians concerning the
A.C., especially if we compare data from the end of the 90's with the beginning of the decade.
The public opinion surveys published by the media during the autonomic campaign of 1997
show that about 50% of the respondents approve of the government's activity, 36%
disapprove; 48% of the respondents believe that Galicia has improved during the Fraga
governments while 31% believe it has stayed the same, and only 21% find it has gotten
In more recent and possibly more trustworthy data due to its origin, the first barometer
carried out by the School of Political Science of the University of Santiago (March 1998),
provided revealing information on the attitudes that Galicians have towards their A.C. One
out of every three Galicians grade the Autonomous Government's performance as very good
or good in recent years, most of all in managing communications and roads (82.8% consider
that they have improved under the Autonomous regime), housing (51.4%), health (44%) and
education (43%), while the employment policies are esteemed particularly faulty (52.2% feel
that the problem has worsened), as are agriculture (49.5%) and fishing (41.8%).
Other especially significant results of this barometer are that (i) Galicians are satisfied
with the performance of the Autonomous regime (45.5%) but the majority demands higher
levels of self-government (59.6%); (ii) the President of the Galician government, Manuel
Fraga, and the leader of the main nationalist party (BNG) are the best known political leaders
(100% and 97% respectively), the most valued (6.26 and 5.32) and who inspire most
confidence (55.8% and 41.2%); and (iii) their respective parties receive the highest scores
when respondents were asked about their activity in defense of the Galician interests (PP,
37.8%; BNG 35%), but only the P.P. reaches a satisfactory level of confidence as a governing
party (PP: 53.65%; BNG: 19.4%). Summing up: against the previous parrochial region, a
collective national identity is in the making.
5. The political impact of the Autonomy: the galician party subsystem and the elections
The development and consolidation of the autonomic institutions and the policies they
implemented have resulted in clear impact on the evolution of the political realm in Galicia.
In the following pages we will analyse how the development of this process of institutional
consolidation and the progressive importance of the policies and resources available to the
A.C. have decisively marked the rhythm of Galician politics. It is a key element in
explaining the three principal tendencies that have taken place: (i) the progressive
galicianization of the dominant party, the Popular Party, (ii) the loss of importance and
political space by the Socialist Party due to its weak capacity to generate an adequate
leadership and identity for the new autonomic institutional scenario, and (iii) the rise and
consolidation of an emerging nationalist force, the Bloque Nacionalista Galego.
All this works against the previous main characteristics that could be discerned in the
political dynamic of the traditional Galician electoral scene (Máiz 1996):
1. Precarious political participation, with the provinces of Lugo and Ourense at
the bottom of the electoral participation figures in Spain. High indices of fragmentation (.71
in 1982) and volatility (22.5) demonstrate the instability, crisis and permanent reshaping of
the political forces (see graph 2 on electoral results).
2. The existence of a moderate degree of pluralism and scarce ideological
distance between the main parties, along with the especially conservative character of the
electorate, shown in the constant and stable dominance by the center-right political options:
3. Weak electoral presence of nationalism in an electoral space clearly dominated
by the parties of national span.
The modernization of the Galician political context has clearly been marked by a
process of nationalist moderation on the left, and a regionalist position on the right. The
indices of non-voting have decreased considerably bringing Galicia closer to the Spanish
average. The political realm has increasingly been galicianized, so that all the political
forces, even the non-Galicianist ones, assume a discourse of differentiation and use of the
Galician language. This has contributed to create a common matter or "master frame" shared
both by nationalists and non-nationalists (Máiz 1996) of defense of the Galician culture and
language and of "Galician interests". The scenario has also expanded due to the "Galician
media space", where (see graph 2) the regionalist right has a clear predominance, the national
left-wing party is worsening its position and remains in almost permanent crisis, and the
interclass nationalist option is on the rise electorally. The reasons for this can be found in the
economic and social changes brought on by the rapid and unequal modernization and
urbanization of Galicia, crisis in the industrial/agricultural/fishing sectors that create the basis
for a series of differentiated Galician collective interests vis-à-vis the EU and the central
State, the institutional impact of the Autonomous regime and a successful mobilization of
organizational and interpretational resources.
Evolution of voting in all elections
source: official data
PP de Galicia
EVOLUTION OF VOTING FOR THE MAIN PARTIES IN ALL THE ELECTIONS
Source: Official data
The Galician political scene is full of uncertainties and open ended questions for all
the political forces, especially in a national political context where the Catalan and Basque
nationalist forces have demonstrated great capacity to obtain resources and areas of power
from the Central government in exchange for their support. The national left-wing party
(PSOE) face the challenge of overcoming the clear electoral defeat in the autonomic elections
of 1997, a loss of votes to the moderate nationalist left, organizational problems, internal
divisions, and difficulties in generating a solid political space before the electorate and the
national political organizations that they are a part of. The rapid growth of the BNG (25%) as
a nationalist force on the left and its process of program moderation imply challenges in
discovering the limits of these processes. To what point can this organization, composed of
broad segments with strong ideologies, assimilate and resolve the situation without
experiencing traumatic crises, and to what extent will a program change of this size elude
future problems of credibility among its electorate.
Not even the PP, the leading force and overwhelming player, has a definite and
tranquil future. The solid personality of its present, charismatic leader, Manuel Fraga, is both
a strength and a weakness, due to his age of 70, which makes decisions concerning continuity
or change of leadership imminent. This has potential electoral impact and raises questions
about the model of party organization for the future.
The structure of the dominant party in Galicia, the PP, is strongly clientelist and
territorialized due to the fact that several internal local groups hold areas of influence within
the organization. This generates a growing dynamic of internal tension between various
territorial barons, and externally towards the national organization which is suspicious of the
galicianization of the party and seeks to impose upon it a similar control to that of the other
regional chapters. So far all of this has been mitigated by the presence of the autonomic
President, but this must be resolved in one way or another in the future.
The institutionalization of Galicia as an Autonomous Community has in any case
meant a quantitative and qualitative change. The economic scene provides challenges due to
needed structural reform in order to provide self-sustaining development due to foreseeable
cuts in the flow of external resources. In the political realm there is a need for adaptation of
the nationalist parties to this new strategic environment through moderation of their
nationalist demands due to the substantial autonomic self-government and galicianization of
the other forces - PP and PSOE - that are increasingly identified with the Galician territorial
community. In all these processes the institutions and public policies carry out a decisive
political role in constituting preferences, actors and identities.
For a more detailed explanation of the institutional model of Galicia and its functioning, see "O Sistema
Politíco Galego. As Institucións" by Caamaño, Máiz, Rivera and Vilas, Xerais, Vigo. 1994.
The Statute of Autonomy is approved in a referendum that did not reach 40% electoral participation, and
subsequent autonomic elections hardly exceed 50% participation.
In recent electoral surveys (Voz de Galicia, Decembre 1996, July 1997, Octobre 1997, CIS 1997) Manuel
Fraga appeared as the most valued leader and the most recognized Galician politician. The rest of the Galician
government occupied much lower positions in the ranking.
The agrarian census of 1982 found that 7.4% of the agricultural business people were illiterate, 75.4% lacked
any level of education, only 15.4% had primary education, and 1.1% had reached a mid level of education
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1500-1936, by Ramon Villares. Madrid. Siglo XXI. 1982.
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