Tuesday, February 27

40 years of autonomy of Cantabria and counting

The autonomy of Cantabria has just turned 40, an age that we generally identify with maturity. And so it is in the case of our Autonomous Community, which begins its fourth decade of mature and fully consolidated history, known and recognized within Spain and with unquestionable popular support, after having revealed itself as the best instrument to satisfy and defend the needs of the Cantabrians.

The entry into force of our Statute of Autonomy in 1982 culminated seven years of struggle that began in 1975, when the construction of a democratic Spain began to take shape and some of us dared to defend the idea of ​​a decentralized country, in which Cantabria had to assume the leading role that corresponded to it as autonomy, based on its historical personality, its cultural identity and the political will to direct its own affairs.

That vision that would mark my personal and professional life forever did not have too many followers at first, but it ended up leading to an unprecedented popular movement, which ended up overcoming initial reticence and misgivings. Citizen demands aroused political awareness that was channeled, once democracy was established with the approval of the Constitution in 1978, through the town councils, which overwhelmingly promoted the necessary procedure for Cantabria to gain autonomy.

The approval of the Statute in 1982 meant the recovery of the historical name of our land and the assumption of the first competencies necessary to respond from closeness and knowledge to the needs and problems of our citizens. 40 years later, experience has confirmed what we defended from the beginning: problems are better solved through knowledge and proximity. No one knows better than ourselves what we need at each moment.

That is why the Statute of Autonomy has already undergone four reforms. The first, in 1991 and 1994, were adapting our fundamental law to the feeling of autonomy. The third, the result of the so-called Pact of Carmona and approved in 1998, was of greater importance and represented a significant leap forward. Not only did it forever eliminate the possibility of annexation to another autonomy, reaffirming that Cantabria was, is and will forever be an irreversible reality, but it also laid the foundations for better organizing self-government, shielding our great Valdecilla hospital as a national health reference and create new institutions that we still have to develop. More recently, in 2021, we approved a fourth reform, to eliminate the special jurisdiction of deputies, councilors and president, as it is an outdated privilege and has no reason to exist in the contemporary world.

The approval of the Statute in 1982 meant the recovery of the historical name of our land and the assumption of the first competencies necessary to respond from closeness and knowledge to the needs and problems of our citizens.

But the road is not exhausted and we still have to continue working to adapt our Statute to the needs of today’s society. It is necessary to develop institutions already planned, such as the Ombudsman or the District, an essential figure to guarantee all citizens essential public services with the highest quality and at the best possible cost, based on collaboration between municipalities. And we must begin to think, with serenity and a vocation for consensus, in a new reform to equip ourselves with more instruments of self-government in order to better respond to the needs of citizens in exceptional times.

As we have seen during the management of the pandemic, those autonomous communities that have given their governments the ability to draft decree-laws have been able to respond more quickly to problems, legislating on fundamental matters such as health at a time of such difficulty. . We Cantabrians also need this tool to have a full legal-legislative response capacity.

We have to create our own Court of Accounts for better control of public money and provide the President of Cantabria, as an institution, with a better capacity to call early elections in the face of possible situations of misgovernment or in the absence of parliamentary support to execute policies, without being subject to the four-year term limitation. There are few autonomies that still maintain that limit, which can be clearly dysfunctional both from an economic and democratic point of view.

Now 40 years old, it is clear that Cantabria can go further and increase its level of self-government, incorporating new powers. Logical and necessary competences, such as the administration of the hydrographic basins found in our territory, obviously accompanied by adequate financing to guarantee a better organizational and institutional functioning.

Four decades later, we still have challenges ahead and we can overcome them with consensus, based on a serene and plural debate, with the will to reach political agreements and with the majority support of society. This is how our Statute and all the reforms promoted up to now were conceived, and this is how I am sure that we will continue to do so in the future.

I have the privilege of having participated at the forefront of everything that has happened in Cantabria in these 40 years of autonomy and, honestly, I cannot feel more proud of what has been achieved so far and of the splendid future that I am sure we have ahead of us.