Spain is a sovereign state located on the Iberian Peninsula, in the South West of the European continent. Since the enactment of the Constitution in 1978, Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system.

The 1978 Constitution put an end to a 36-years dictatorship under the rule of General Francisco Franco, who died still in power in 1975. Since its return to democracy, Spain has done little effort to come to terms with its past, particularly regarding the legacy of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, and its subsequent repression. Around 114.000 victims of the War and the Francoist repression are still missing.

Spain is a unitary country, but its 17 regions have their own directly elected authorities and enjoy a high degree of autonomy. Indeed, during the dictatorship, Spanish nationalism was imposed throughout the country and regional nationalisms were repressed. In response to such developments, the 1978 Constitution paved the way for the so-called “State of the autonomies” (Estado de las autonomías), qualifying Spain as an indissoluble “nation” composed of “nationalities and regions”. Nonetheless, the Constitution does not provide a definition of these concepts. This has caused confusion and fuelled in regional nationalism. Consequently, regions such as the Basque country and Catalonia have repeatedly demanded greater autonomy. In recent years, the Catalan region has begun a process towards independence, which has drawn a strong response from the central government.

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