The regional debate now goes through keep or take out of Madrid some of the state institutions based in the capital. The Valencian president, Ximo Puig, has been in charge of lighting the wick of the mascletá in which, from the parties to the right of the PSOE, and even inside Ferraz, they are on the way to turning into a bitter and visceral controversy about the communities ; the eternal conflict of autonomies, reviled by the extreme right to the same extent that the leftist formations would like to redirect the homogeneous distribution of powers and, above all, of financing, towards a federal model.
But, what happens when that same decentralization has been demanded from the provinces with respect to their autonomous capital? The matter has been discussed for decades and there is no party that has resolved it. What happens when the one who complains is Zamora from Valladolid, Huelva against Seville, Albacete regarding Toledo, or Alicante and Castellón in their claims against Valencia.
Ximo Puig has long ceased to be a rising value in the ranks of the PSOE to become the regional leader with the most authority within the party, so any question he raises must be listened to carefully. Two consecutive legislatures at the head of an autonomy traditionally considered the electoral granary of the PP confer that benefit. And yet, since the time of Jaume I, there is not a day that Valencia has not aroused the misgivings of Alicante and Castellón. In the Valencian Community, as in the rest of the country, polycentrism has been considered a minor issue since the Spain of 78, and Puig’s gestures towards his border provinces with Murcia and Catalonia have been willful, although still insufficient.
The Spain polyphonic It is already being assumed by other barons and has the complicity of Pedro Sánchez and the rejection of the national leadership of the PP. The aim is to extract the headquarters of some State institutions from Madrid and re-establish them in the outskirts. From the PSOE two suggestions have already transcended: Ports of the State to Valencia and the Oceanographic Institute to Vigo.
The bet, without a doubt, deserves a broader debate and it shows that the years that have elapsed since the beginning of the Transition still create a model of State that deserves some work of dressing. The Spain of the autonomies is supported by a solid wall, although peeling off on some sides. The capital city has never abandoned the path of susceptibility. The Basque Country has its administrative center in Vitoria and not in Bilbao or San Sebastián; Castilla-La Mancha houses the seat of its government in Toledo, but the Superior Court of Justice in Albacete, a model similar to that of Castilla y León, whose capital, Valladolid, serves as the seat of its three main institutions (the Junta, the Cortes and the Presidency), while other top-level organizations are distributed between Burgos, Palencia, Zamora and León. In many cases, this institutional distribution does not reduce the feeling of grievance of the provinces with respect to the capital of their region.
The discussion about the centrality of Madrid is not new. If we do a bit of history, Valladolid, Seville, Cádiz, and even Valencia and Barcelona during the Civil War played this role. Despite the arguments and the seriousness with which the new structuring approach seems to be elaborated, the same debate that the PSOE baronies have raised has been the subject of dispute for decades in some communities where they govern, interspersed in the discourse of the centrality and distribution of investments. Citizens’ interest in having their province host a State or autonomous community institution decreases in the same proportion as the distribution of money benefits or harms some more than others within the same region. Madrid or Murcia, both uniprovincial, do not have the problem, but Valencians, Galicians, Extremadurans or Andalusians do. At this point in the debate, it is beyond doubt that polycentrism must necessarily happen because the autonomies house some of the State institutions and a fairer financing. But also the provinces within their autonomy. Let’s solve that first and then it will be decided where to locate the Court of Accounts.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.