Spain is celebrating the 44th anniversary of the Constitution without a pandemic, but with political tension. This year’s festivities so far were focused on two major topics: the renewal of the National Assembly and criticism of a government with anti-constitutionalists. The selection of Seville as headquarters for the Space Agency also got plenty of attention this week.
The president of the Congress, Meritxell Batet, delivered the traditional Constitution Day speech on the steps of the Congress.
Meritxell Batet’s Speech
To celebrate Constitution Day is to celebrate the constitution of our political community. A community of affection, recognition, and solidarity, of hopes and desires that throughout these forty-four years has built the path of peace, freedom, coexistence, and progress through which our country has traveled steadily and safely. , leaving behind the bankruptcies of our History.
The generations that drafted and ratified the Constitution led a brotherly revolution against the frustrations of the past and laid the foundations so that Spain could aspire to “its infallible tomorrow”, as Machado wanted.
During the constituent debate that consciousness of the historical border, of collective illusion, was always present. Everyone did their part so that the text had a great capacity for integration so that everyone could recognize themselves in it.
That is why it could be said then that the constitutional precepts represent “an articulated and coherent set of concessions”, concessions that were not the product of a sort of correlation of weaknesses but of a sum of generosity.
This was stated in the Plenary to approve the constitutional opinion: “the Constitution expresses the generosity of each and every one of us.”
The political matter that shaped our Constitution was not fear, the fear of repeating mistakes, the fear of stagnation, or the fear of the ills suffered.
If it had been fear that had motivated the drafting of the Constitution, we would probably have had a longer, more prolix text, which would have been filled with assurances and specific mandates, as can sometimes be found in comparative constitutionalism.
It wasn’t fear. The political matter of our Constitution is hope.
This is how it is proclaimed on the portico of the constitutional text for all those who enter into its reading:
The hope of consolidating a rule of law that ensures the rule of law as an expression of the popular will.
The hope of protecting all Spaniards and peoples of Spain in the exercise of human rights, their cultures and traditions, languages , and institutions.
The hope of promoting the progress of culture and the economy to ensure a decent quality of life for all.
The hope of establishing an advanced democratic society.
The Constitution expresses great agreement on the fundamentals of our system of government. It contains the great fundamental decisions that articulate our coexistence: the democratic legitimization of power, submission to the Law and control of the Courts, distribution at different territorial levels, and due respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.
democratic state. Rule of law. Autonomous state. Social state. They are the forms that our political community adopts and identifies.
I reiterate it. Hope is the spirit that gives air to the entire constitutional project.
A hope that summons the Spain of intelligence, goodness, illusion, and effort to develop all its possibilities.
Throughout these more than four decades, the achievements of our country have been magnificent and offer us a vision of ourselves that encourages optimism and confidence.
For more than thirty years our country has led the world in the number of organ donations. This fact speaks of the great solidarity of our citizens, and of their generosity, too. And the strength of our national health system has made it possible. That is Constitution.
More than three million people dedicate their time, their attention, and their love to other people in situations of need. They are voluntary people who share the fate of their fellow citizens and who contribute to making our society richer humanely. That is Constitution.
A few days ago we learned the story of Pablo and Sara. Two young people from León who, thanks to their passion, effort, and talent, are part of the European space program. Two young people educated and trained in our country, in the public education system. That is Constitution.
Three and a half million companies open their doors every day, undertake, invest, produce, provide services, and create wealth. That is Constitution.
About one hundred thousand books are published each year by more than seven hundred publishers. Through its pages, information is obtained, studied, reflected upon, and enjoyed, and “wits are revived”, as Don Quixote says. Access to culture. That is Constitution.
And I could refer to many other manifestations of the value of our citizenship that show that we are a great country and that the purpose that encouraged those who made the Constitution was correct.
This framework of coexistence protects and promotes the development of political and social life towards the achievement of constitutional goals: a more just, freer society, a society in which all citizens deserve and receive equal consideration and respect, and a more prosperous society.
The strength of this constitutional framework requires as a necessary condition the strength of our democratic institutions. Institutions are the visible apparatus of what our public life has wanted to have as a promise, as a binding commitment, and as a guarantee. They are created by law, but they are nourished by the trust of citizens.
Maintaining its prestige, its credibility, and its regular operation requires, on the part of all, the loyal fulfillment of the promise that they embody.
The institutions belong to the citizens who entrust them in deposit to the political leaders to keep them and ensure their correct function. The duties imposed by this relationship of trust require us to conduct ourselves with the utmost diligence.
After twelve years of constitutional magistracy, at the time of leaving the High Court that he presided over, Tomás y Valiente offered us a maxim of experience that we must always keep in mind: “Institutions gain or lose prestige for what they do, but also for what they with them it is done”.
His words are a reminder that the consolidation of the democratic system is always an unfinished task that requires constant effort and that neglecting now can compromise tomorrow.
A long tradition of political thought tells us that Constitutions are made over time. They are the work of a generation, the constituent generation, but they are, we are the constitutionally constituted generations, those of those who grew up or were born under its validity, who must recognize themselves in the values and aspirations incorporated in the constitutional text.
Our grandparents, and our parents had a dream and we are living that dream.
They trusted them and it worked out for them.
They trusted us and their work is in good hands. In our hands.
In those of the millions of Spaniards who know that, although we could not vote for it, it is as much ours as those who did.
That we know it belongs to everyone and for everyone.
That we know that the Constitution is not a flag but a square.
That we know that nothing is forever and that what is valuable must be protected and cared for.
With these certainties, it is up to us to update the normative force of the Constitution.
In this task of updating, Parliament has a primary function: to enrich, through free and reasoned debate, the legal framework of our coexistence through new laws.
Parliament is a unique place. Those of us who are part of it must be aware of this uniqueness. It is the place where all citizens are represented, but they must also feel represented there.
The parliamentary debate is the exhibition of the best virtues of the world. From the rostrum, they speak to the public, offering the opinions that each one considers best founded, giving reasons that appeal to everyone’s good sense.
That is what the citizens expect from their representatives, that the word is used to argue, not to hurt. To propose, not to offend. To build, not to hurt. It is in our hands not to disappoint that trust.
Politics is an essentially conciliatory activity. It is a matter of using the word as an instrument of persuasion, of seeking reasonable balances between different positions. And to listen, because listening forces the speaker to do better.
Thanks to this work of reasoned decantation of collective interests that occurs through parliamentary procedures, we have been incorporating consensus that strengthens the cardinal values of freedom, equality, and justice.
I am thinking especially of equality between men and women, which constitutes a basic principle of our constitutional order.
Based on the recognition of this very important dimension of the principle of equality, there is a basic consensus on the need to protect and guarantee the free development of women in the face of all types of discrimination, and with greater determination and forcefulness in the face of violent manifestations of that discrimination. discrimination.
A core consensus in the construction of a just society in which we must persevere, for dignity and for pure democracy.
The historical vicissitudes that we are experiencing in these years have increased concern and uncertainty.
Experience teaches us that it is not in our power to choose the reality we face, but what does depend on us is to choose how to respond to that reality.
His Majesty the King reminded us a few days ago that “the worst moments and the most difficult obstacles to overcome are also those that move us to determination, action, resolution.”
During this time we have verified that the path by which we can overcome challenges is marked by values and unity. The values that identify us as free citizens and protagonists of our collective government. And unity in its defense and preservation. When we have done something together, we have never regretted it.
This is how we did it during the hard months of the pandemic. And we are doing so in the face of the violent transgression of the rules of International Law and the violation of human rights suffered by Ukraine.
The Constitution proclaims our willingness to collaborate in strengthening peaceful relations between peoples. Peace is the first good, the one that makes others possible. And we know that peace is something more than the absence of war: it is respect, it is recognition of the other, it is compliance with the rules.
The realization of this constitutional design requires us to act committed and in concert with our allies, especially within the framework of the European Union. And maintain, at the same time, solidarity and support with the Ukrainian people.
From the first moment, the sincere and open expression of that solidarity by our citizens showed the moral nerve of our community. Despite the distance that separates us, Spain has felt like a border with Ukraine. Representatives of many of the social organizations that carry out this work are with us at this event and I want to express my most sincere gratitude to all of them for their commitment.
Friends and friends.
The Spain that our constituents projected is before us. Thanks to the efforts of the men and women of our country, to the ability to add, to the desire to share our luck and that everyone’s luck is better.
The Constitution is a work in progress, but in these forty-four years, it has made possible Spain that we are and of which we can be proud. There are reasons to celebrate and today is the day for it.
We celebrate by looking back and valuing everything we have achieved. But we also celebrate it by looking to the future. The one we want for our daughters and our sons.
We live the dream of our parents and grandparents. Let us have the ambition to deliver an even better one to them.
Thank you very much.