42 ANIVERSARI DE LA CONSTITUCIÓ ESPANYOLA

Unfulfilled promises undermine an outdated Spanish Constitution

The supreme law of the state has exposed its limits 42 years after it was passed

Only two changes in 42 years - to adapt to the Maastricht Treaty first, and to enshrine austerity later - have proved insufficient to keep the architecture that the Constitution erected four decades ago on its feet. The seams of Spain's supreme law have been exposed at the same rate as its pages have turned yellow, and the passage from theory to practice has gradually deformed the spirit of a text that was more ambitious in its origin than in its subsequent interpretation. Now, four decades after it was approved in 1978, its pillars have cracked and even the Crown - key to it all - can no longer hide its wear and tear.

The prevalence of men over women in the line of succession of the throne is perhaps the clearest example of how the constitutional text has been overcome. Added to this is the inviolability of the King, a judicial barrier that may ultimately not be enough to prevent Juan Carlos I from ending up in trial.

Nor has the inclusion of the term "nationalities" in exchange for enshrining the "indissoluble unity of Spain" resolved the territorial debate. The Constitutional Court has blown up the possibility of an assembly of the different State nations, and the resumption of the debate on self-determination - which has already entrusted to the the creators of the Constitution - has, for the time being, ended with the Catalan independence leaders in prison.

Judicial independence is, in fact, another of the pillars of the Magna Carta, which has now cracked. The social umbrella promised by the Constitution has been made practically imperceptible by the passage of time, particularly the articles on the right to housing - with uncontrolled prices and everyday evictions -, the right to education - currently there is a 17.9% failure rate -, and the right to equality. All of these are unfulfilled promises that show, on its 42nd anniversary, a Constitution that has been overcome, pending a labyrinthine reform that no one is capable of starting.

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