Territorial Politics and the Party System in Spain:
Continuity and change since the financial crisis
Across Western Europe, the global financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath not only brought economic havoc but also, in turn, intense political upheaval. Many of the political manifestations of the crisis seen in other Western and especially Southern European countries also hit Spain, where challenger parties caused unprecedented parliamentary fragmentation, resulting in four general elections in under four years from 2015 onwards. Yet Spain, a decentralised state where extensive powers are devolved to 17 regions known as ‘autonomous communities’, also stood out from its neighbours due to the importance of the territorial dimension of politics in shaping the political expression of the crisis.
This book explains how and why the territorial dimension of politics contributed to shaping party system continuity and change in Spain in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with a particular focus on party behaviour. The territorial dimension encompasses the demands for ever greater autonomy or even sovereignty coming from certain parties within the historic regions of the Basque Country, Catalonia and, to a lesser extent, Galicia. It also encompasses where these historic regions sit within the broader dynamics of intergovernmental relations across Spain’s 17 autonomous communities in total, and how these dynamics contribute to shaping party strategies and behaviour in Spain. Such features became particularly salient in the aftermath of the financial crisis since this coincided with, and indeed accelerated, the rise of the independence movement in Catalonia.
Table of Contents
1 Territorial politics and the party system in Spain
2 The political consequences of the 2008 financial crisis: Spain in European context
3 Decentralisation and its discontents: The role of the financial crisis in accelerating the Catalan independence movement
4 Basque nationalism: A longer-term quest for co-sovereignty
5 Territorial politics and the evolution of the Spanish left
6 Territorial politics and the evolution of the Spanish right
7 Conclusion: Continuity or change?
Caroline Gray is Lecturer in Politics and Spanish at Aston University in Birmingham and Deputy Co-Director of the Aston Centre for Europe. She specialises in the politics of Spain and wider Europe, focusing on nationalist movements, political decentralisation and the party system. She studied Modern Languages at the University of Oxford for her BA and MSt degrees, before later completing an ESRC-funded PhD in Politics at the University of Liverpool.
This timely book places Spain in its European context yet highlights the distinctive role of territorial tensions in explaining the chronic political instability of recent years. A valuable contribution to the literature on political competition in Spain, doing justice to the Catalan and Basque dimensions.
Richard Gillespie, Emeritus Professor, University of Liverpool
This perceptive book is essential reading for anyone who wants to make sense of the political changes Spain experienced in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Caroline Gray provides great insight into how territorial politics shaped and then was shaped by the new party system.
Bonnie N. Field, Professor, Bentley University