Spanish civil society organizations mobilize against constututional restrictions on the deficit

One of the protests last week
in Madrid. (Photo:

Source: Plataforma 2015 y Más

The main union federations in Spain and many civil society organizations including Plataforma 2015 y Más (a member of Social Watch) established last week a programme of demonstrations to express their rejection of the change to the Constitution the governing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the opposition Popular Party (PP) are contemplating. The change would set a limit to the public deficit, and the people’s organizations are calling for a public referendum to decide this matter.

At a meeting, the organizations drew up a manifesto and agreed to hold demonstrations starting this week, support others being planned, and hold a march on 6 September when the proposed constitutional change will be discussed in the Senate.

Plataforma 2015 y Más called on legislators to reject the proponed change on the grounds that it is a policy option geared to limiting public spending, and that this would rebound to the detriment of efforts to promote economic growth and employment or equitable fiscal reform measures. According to the civil society organizations that signed the manifesto, setting a ceiling on the public deficit would limit the autonomy of public bodies and thus constitute a threat to the welfare state, to social policies and to cooperation for development.

The text of the convocation is as follows:

The undersigned social organizations hereby agree to demonstrate publicly their rejection of the proposal to change the Spanish Constitution drawn up by the persons responsible in the PSOE and PP parliamentary groups, to call on deputies (representatives) and senators from all parliamentary groups not to vote for the change, and if the proposal is passed to call for a referendum about ratification.

We consider that because of its content and the time frame involved, this change will not help reduce current levels of public deficit, which can only be achieved without severely damaging the economic and social fabric of our country by promoting economic growth and employment, implementing an equitable and progressive fiscal reform and maintaining rigorous control over the use of public expenditure.

At the same time the proposed change would impose severe restrictions on the autonomy of democratic governments and on the various administrative public bodies to manage their own budgets. This will seriously hamper their capacity to use their budget policy to pursue the aims of general policy. The proposed change is supposedly a response to speculative attacks on sovereign debt, but it would implant in our highest legal regulations a factor that is economic in nature and intrinsically pro-cyclical, and that could prevent governments taking measures in the future to save the economy from sinking into recession. It also constitutes a permanent threat to State welfare institutions and benefits, social policies and aid for development.

The procedure that will be adopted for passing this measure is unacceptable because it will take place in an exhausted legislature, it has been announced in the holiday period, the attempt to definitively pass it will come only fifteen days after the President of the Republic proposed it on 23 August, there will be no social or political debate of any kind, and lastly, there will be no referendum.

For all these reasons, and considering the seriousness of its content (to establish in the Constitution that budgets must be balanced and limits must be set on public administration debt), it is an ideological and political option that is not only mistaken and useless but is markedly conservative in nature. We assert that this change goes against the constitutional consensus that our basic charter of rights is based on.

In view of the seriousness of this proponed measure, the undersigned social organizations consider that the citizens should publicly express the following:

1. Their rejection of the proponed change to the Constitution.
2. To call on deputies and senators not to vote for the parliamentary procedure involved.
3. To demand that if this proposal is passed in Parliament it must be submitted to a referendum.

For these reasons the undersigned organizations call on the citizenry and on political and social bodies to take part in the demonstrations that have been called. We are conscious of the need to work towards cooperation among all organizations and platforms that oppose this constitutional change, and we agree in particular:

1. To call meetings and demonstrations on 31 August and 1 September at various places in Spain.
2. To support participation in other meetings and demonstrations that are called in these days to oppose the change to the Constitution and to call for a referendum.
3. To support other kinds of initiatives, in particular the collection of signatures by   electronic means.
4. To finish with a demonstration in Madrid on Tuesday 6 September at 19.00 between Cibeles and Sol.

Madrid, 29 August 2011

Organizations that have signed:
Paz con Dignidad
Consejo de la Juventud de España
Sindicato de Estudiantes
Paz Ahora
Confederación Intersindical
Coordinadora de ONGs para el Desarrollo (CONGDE)
Plataforma 2015 y +
Asamblea de Cooperación por la Paz
Socialismo 21
Asociación de Usuarios de Bancos, Cajas y Seguros (ADICAE)
Comisión Promotora de las Mesas Ciudadanas para la Convergencia y la Acción