Can a text that was conceived as a source of freedom end up being a cage for many of the citizens it claims to protect? Well, this is what happened with the Spanish Constitution of 1978, which turns 42 years old this Sunday: the lock in the form of reinforced majorities that was imposed on it at the time has made it a practically unreformable text. This happens in spite of the fact that with the passage of time we have seen that its foundations are decaying and do not respond to the challenges of current situations.
We are not only talking about the obvious, which is the territorial architecture. The key to the entire legal edifice of 1978, the monarchy, is in crisis. Additionally, the right to work or housing that are enshrined in the Constitution are dead letters; and other rights, such as those referring to education or gender equality, are far from being achieved. Every new government changes the law on education, an area in which there should be at least some consensus, and no economic policy has managed to put an end to endemic unemployment. And so Spain leads the rankings in both school drop-outs and youth unemployment.
Therefore, it is the entire system that is not working, and the independence activists or any external enemies cannot be blamed for it. There are many examples, as we have seen, but some are particularly striking. The most serious, without doubt, is the imprisonment of Catalan independence activists and politicians for having organised a referendum on Catalan independence. This fact in itself already shows the absolute failure of the '78 regime to provide a constitutional response to a demand widely shared by the Catalan population, and which has been carried out in places such as Great Britain.
But there is more - and it affects the entire Spanish population. For example, the current system of financing has expired since 2014, and little is said about it. Similarly, bodies such as the General Council of the Judiciary have also had their mandate expired for two years ("a serious anomaly", in the words of Carlos Lesmes), leading to a situation of misgovernment in which the Conservatives impose their law.
Not even a reform of the Constitution to end male supremacy in the order of succession to the Crown seems feasible today. The parties panic when they are asked to open what they consider a Pandora's box (holding a referendum to ratify a profound constitutional reform), and the result is a Constitution that is more and more outdated, worn out, useless, and widely out of touch with reality. A Constitution that in some specific territories, such as Catalonia, has increasingly less support.