The Council of Ministers has authorized this Monday the holding of a popular consultation for the merger of the Extremadura municipalities of Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena, which meets all the requirements established in article 71 of the Law on the Bases of the Local Regime. The referendum will be held on February 20.
The Minister of Territorial Policy and Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, has reported that the question has also been approved -one for each municipality- that is going to be put to a vote: “Do you agree that the city council of (Don Benito / Villanueva de la Serena) exercise the initiative to process the merger procedure with the municipality of (Villanueva de la Serena / Don Benito)? “.
Don Benito and Villanueva de la Serena have promised to continue with the merger procedure if the referendum exceeds 66% acceptance, although its result is not binding and not even its celebration is necessary for the union. Afterwards, the rest of the procedure will be carried out by the autonomous community in collaboration with the Provincial Council, the minister has indicated.
The city councils of both municipalities unanimously agreed to the start of the merger process. The proposal, which has come from the two mayors, also has the support of the president of the Junta de Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara, and of all the political groups in the Assembly.
The spokeswoman has indicated that this is an “extraordinary procedure” that has only two precedents since the entry into force in 1985 of the Law Regulating the Bases of the Local Regime: the mergers of the Coruña municipalities of Cesuras and Oza dos Ríos in July of 2013 and the Pontevedra towns of Cerdedo and Cotobade in January 2017, as sources from the Ministry of Territorial Policy have specified to Efe.
Rodríguez has affirmed that this is “a decision to applaud because it is about becoming stronger”, since both municipalities in Badajoz will not only add population and extension but will also generate “one of the most important poles of economic development in Extremadura. and they will also facilitate an effective management of public funds, services and resources that they provide to citizens. ”
Before this agreement and in addition to the initiative of the two municipalities, the Subdelegation of the Government in Badajoz, the Provincial Council and the General Directorate of Local Administration of the Junta de Extremadura, and the General Directorate of Autonomous Legal Regime and Local, dependent on the Ministry of Territorial Policy, has reported favorably for the Council of Ministers to grant authorization.
The Government has the competence for the authorization of these popular consultations by virtue of the aforementioned Law of Bases of the Local Regime, in a restricted way, as reported by the spokesperson of the Executive, to matters of municipal competence, of a local nature, of special interest to the neighbors and that are not related to the local property.
In addition, Article 149 of the Constitution establishes as exclusive competence of the State the authorization for the convening of popular consultations by way of referendum and the European Charter of Local Autonomy, ratified by Spain in January 1988, expressly states that “for any modification of the local territorial limits, the affected local communities must be consulted in advance, if necessary, wherever the legislation allows it “.
The numbers of the new city
If the consultation prospers, from the merger of these two municipalities, bordering their territories, a new local entity would emerge, with an approximate population of 65,000 inhabitants, which would make it the third in Extremadura, only behind Badajoz and Cáceres. and with an area of 713 square kilometers.
The resulting urban area would rise as the second economic pole of the province of Badajoz and the first economic municipal nucleus of both the agriculture and livestock sector and the industry in Extremadura.
According to preliminary studies from both consistories, the impact of this merger in terms of wealth, economic activity and income development would be increases of 2.75% in household income and 5% in employment, especially in services and companies, as in population with university studies.