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Spain as a Laboratory for Europe

The researcher William Genieys, a member of the Centre d'Etudes Politiques de L'Europe Latine (CEPEL)1 analyses political change in Spain as a way of understanding forces at work in European integration.

You were in charge of an issue of the review Pôle Sud dedicated to “Political Spain”; Why this subject?
William Genieys: Since 1975 a number of major societal and political transformations have taken place in Spain, such as going from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one, or radical shifts in the way the State is organised. Yet in France social scientists have paid little attention to this upheaval. This oversight must be corrected, and in the interest of doing so we let Spanish researchers — most of them trained in England or the United States — express themselves. In this way, we are able to see how they approach changes in their own country.

Can Spain in any way be regarded as a political model?
W.G. The transition to democracy has been a great success in Spain, and the country has found full legitimacy on the international scene. As a result, regime change theory has been largely based on the Spanish case, considered as exemplary. But today we see that it is so particular that it is not feasible for transposition elsewhere and certainly not to Eastern Europe.

Why do you consider Spain as the ideal laboratory for political analysis in Europe?
W.G.
Very decentralised, the Spanish State has not evolved into a federal State but rather an Autonomous State. Likewise, the European Union will be neither centralised nor federal. The Union is and will be the function of interactions among States, while its actions will treat countries and levels of government in their singularity. Observing what has gone on in Spain — where institutional differentiation is the foundation of the Constitution of 1978 — provides a clear opportunity to study how norms of public action confront changing political and territorial reality.  The asymmetrical polycentrism characteristic of Spain today presents the same issues and challenges as faced by Europe as it proceeds towards political integration. To put it briefly, Spain is a fine model for good European governance!


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Summary

à lire

L'Espagne du politique numéro de Pôle Sud, revue de science politique de l'Europe méridionale. Éditions Climats, mai 2002. (Introduction by William Genieys : "L'Espagne : un eldorado pour l'analyse du politique en Europe ?").
• W. Genieys. Les élites espagnoles face à l'État. Paris. L'Harmattan, 1997, 284 p.

Contact

William Genieys
CEPEL
E-mail: genieys@univ-montp1.fr

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