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Peace by DesignManaging Intrastate Conflict through Decentralization$
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Dawn Brancati

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199549009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549009.001.0001

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(p.90) 4 Spain
Peace by Design

Dawn Brancati (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the case study of Spain (1976–present). Spain is widely respected as a successful case of decentralization, which has not only avoided conflict among the country's major ethnic groups, but has also held secessionism at bay since Spain's transition to democracy in the late 1970s. This chapter attributes Spain's success to the relatively small presence of regional parties in the country, which have advocated legislation harmful to other regions in India and have supported violent separatist organizations in the country. This chapter attributes the party system to the structure of decentralization in Spain (i.e. the proportion of national legislative seats regions hold individually, the direct election of most of the country's upper house, and the appointment of Spain's first regional legislatures based on national level representation). This structure has reduced the incentive for politicians to form regional parties and prevented them from blocking the adoption of a new political system during the transition era as in Czechoslovakia. In teasing out the relationship between decentralization and regional parties, the chapter points out that statewide parties decentralized Spain in the transition period, and that regions with the strongest regional parties in Spain are not necessarily those that are economically or ethnolinguistically distinct, and that the distinct regions are not necessarily those with strong regional identities.

Keywords:   Spain, ethnic groups, secessionism, separatist organizations, regional parties, violence, regional identities

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