Spain Geopolitics

By | December 31, 2021

Spain was a thriving colonial empire between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (the so-called Siglo de oro): it had numerous colonies especially in South America, where the Iberian cultural heritage is still alive and the Spanish language, among the most widely spoken. in the world, it is the most used. Apart from Morocco, Spain lost its possessions in the nineteenth century, before the other European powers, and entered a phase of decline, also due to the delay with which it faced the industrial revolution. The country, which declared itself neutral during the two world wars, experienced a devastating civil war in the 1930s and, subsequently, a long period of international isolation during Franco’s dictatorship.

Following the death, in 1975, of General Francisco Franco and the end of the dictatorship, the country went through a delicate transition process led by King Juan Carlos – who on 19 June 2014 abdicated in favor of his son Felipe, who ascended the throne with the title of Felipe VI – and by prominent figures such as Adolfo Suàrez and Felipe Gonzàlez who, thanks to their work, have guaranteed Spain the pursuit of a foreign policy, not only in respect of its own Latin American tradition but also and above all in the strengthening of its role within the Euro-Atlantic processes. The country joined NATOin 1982 and in the European Economic Community in 1986, together with Portugal. European integration, which is still the country’s political priority, has fostered subsequent economic and social development. In addition, the members of the European integration process are the main partners for trade and investment. The country is part of the euro area and the Schengen agreements. It claims greater use of the Spanish language in the European context, but has a relatively limited impact on European Union (Eu) policies. Furthermore, although it is still the fifth largest economy among the Eu states, the current deep crisis limits its influence. Relations with Europe have recently deteriorated due to the migrant crisis.

Other fundamental lines of Spanish foreign policy are Latin America and North Africa. The cultural link with the former Latin American colonies is very strong and immigration from Latin America is a significant phenomenon. Spain promotes the EU- Latin America summits and actively participates in the annual Ibero-American summits of the heads of state and government. Compared to the Zapatero executive (2004-11), the government led by Mariano Rajoy has promoted less political cooperation towards the former colonies. Nonetheless, Spain remains one of the largest investors in Latin America through holdings in key sectors of the economy such as banking, energy and public services.

Relations with North Africa and the stability of the region are another priority of Spanish foreign policy. Madrid promotes the Union for the Mediterranean in the E u framework and the 5 + 5 Dialogue, aimed at strengthening cooperation in the Western Mediterranean. Relations with Morocco, geographically contiguous, play a particular role: the partnership with the southern neighbor was in fact fundamental in tackling the problem of illegal immigration. Despite tensions over Moroccan claims of sovereignty over the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, under Spanish control for more than half a century, relations between the two countries are close and Spain has promoted the granting of status to Rabatadvanced association with the Eu.

Relations with the Middle East are also significant, where Spain is present with its troops as part of the United Nations Unifil mission in Lebanon. At the European level, Madrid maintains cordial political diplomatic relations with the main continental powers. However, some tensions have recently re-emerged with the United Kingdom over the Gibraltar issue, a case that threatened to lead to a diplomatic incident.

As for U know, cooperation in the defense field is governed by a treaty of 1989, which allows Washington to keep some military bases on Spanish territory. In 2004, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by the then newly elected Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero led to a cooling of relations. Since then they have remained tepid, also thanks to the profound economic crisis that prompted Mariano Rajoy’s executive to deal mainly with domestic politics, although the two countries remain important allies in the fight against terrorism and important partners for their respective foreign investments.

Spain has broadened the horizons of foreign policy, especially by targeting the Western Balkans (it participates in the Eufor mission) and Asia, in particular India and China, also to strengthen economic cooperation.

Globally, Spain is an active promoter of multilateralism and the strengthening of the United Nations. In 2004 the Zapatero government, together with the Turkish one, proposed the creation of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNOC), established in 2005. The Alliance aims to deepen knowledge and relations between peoples, to promote coexistence peaceful and to counter extremism. For Spain government and politics, please check

Institutional organization and internal politics

Democracy was restored in Spain after the death of General Franco in 1975. Prince Juan Carlos of Bourbon, chosen by Franco as his successor in 1969, became king and in 1976 appointed Adolfo Suárez as prime minister. Within a few months, the parties were legalized, free elections were held for the first time in forty years and the new democratic constitution was approved in the 1978 referendum. Spain presents itself as a multi-party parliamentary monarchy. King Felipe VI is the head of state and holds limited ceremonial powers, including command of the Armed Forces and the appointment of the prime minister and government ministers.

Legislative power is entrusted to a bicameral parliament (Cortes generales): the lower house (Congreso de los diputados) is made up of 350 members elected in the provincial districts for four years (Ceuta and Melilla are represented by one deputy each); the upper house (Senado), with territorial representation, is made up of 259 senators, of which 208 elected by direct universal suffrage and 51 chosen by the legislative assemblies of the autonomous communities. The Spanish administrative division includes 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Spain is one of the European countries to have implemented a more radical decentralization. In the government of some notoriously autonomous realities such as the Basque Country or Catalonia there are parties such as the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Erc), Convergència i Unió (CiU) and the Partido Nazionalista Vasco (Pnv, in Basque: Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea) which place the independence issue as a priority of government action. The communities, indebted due to very high public spending in the years of Spanish growth that now exposes them to the risk of default, have at the same time fueled the separatist / autonomist demands of some realities. In addition to the Basque Country, Catalonia represents the thorniest case for the central government of Madrid to date.

Since the return to democracy, the country has seen an alternation in power between the Partido Popular (Pp) and the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (P soe). Until 2015, the PP led an absolute majority executive, which ended more than a decade of socialist governments. The election of December 2015 saw the reconfirmation of Rajoy ‘s PP, which won the relative majority of the votes, but decreed the end of the perfect Spanish bipolarity between popular and socialists. The consultations have returned to the country a highly fragmented parliament based on four forces (Pp, Psoe, Ciudadanos and Podemos). In the absence of a political agreement for the definition of a new prime minister and a government, probably a coalition, the country could return to the polls again within the first half of the year. The PSOE, in recent years, has gone through a difficult transition phase that has led the young Pedro Pérez-Sánchez Castejó to the secretariat, in place of Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, after the defeat in the European elections of 25 May 2014. In the same consultations it had emerged Podemos, a left-wing party founded in January 2014 by some activists linked to Movimiento 15-M, also known as the indignados movement, which confirmed itself as the third political force in the last elections.

Spain Geopolitics