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Spain marks 39 years of democracy on Constitution Day
TODAY'S (Wednesday's) bank holiday marks the 39th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution at one of its most challenged moments ever through the independence movement in Catalunya and calls for its reform from several sides.
Opposition PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez wants to rehash the Magna Carta to include a series of 'social and human rights', including the right to health – medical care accessible to everyone living in Spain and guarantees for those with disabilities or in a dependent situation.
Sánchez wants to enshrine in the Constitution matters such as the right to privacy, honour and personal image, such as the 'right to forget' in relation to the internet, new technology and social media, and also move from Spain being a non-confessional society to a secular State.
Protecting and improving equality between men and women, with equal chances of entering the workforce on a level playing field and salary, a Constitutional commitment to wiping out domestic violence, and committing to black and white current rights enjoyed by the transsexual community and also by lesbian, gay and bisexual residents, such as that of marriage and adoption which was made legal in the spring of 2005.
The right to housing and employment, the right to negotiation and improvements in rights linked to protecting the environment in the context of energy use and climate change are among the 21st-century needs not met by the text which was rubber-stamped on December 6, 1978, when Spain was in a very different place socially and politically.
Other aspects which need to be 'tweaked' relate to existing clauses about the right and duty to serve and defend the country via a professional army in the absence of compulsory military service – long since abolished – and, surprisingly, the clause concerning the death penalty, which is still in the Constitution today even though it was outlawed decades ago.
National government president Mariano Rajoy has already ruled out any changes to the Constitution which would allow legal referenda on independence such as the recent disputed vote in Catalunya.
Podemos' leader Pablo Iglesias is calling for a referendum on amending the Constitution, although it is not clear as yet who would be eligible to vote – given that non-nationals in any country are unable to vote in central government elections in their adopted land, it could be that this would also be the case in a Constitutional referendum.
On the day the Constitution was signed, the first day of democracy in Spain since before Franco, the dictatorship had been ongoing for 39 years – which means that from tomorrow onwards, democracy will have been in place in Spain longer than the dictatorship.
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