Today is Constitution Day in Spain and, as that is a national public holiday, nearly everyone can have a day off work and relax….. err…. hold on just a minute, today is Sunday and as such most people don’t work. Oh, never mind, have Monday as the public holiday instead.
And that means, as Tuesday is a different public holiday, most of the country is now enjoying a four-day long weekend.
Constitution Day marks the anniversary of a referendum, held on December 6 1978, that overwhelmingly approved a new constitution. It was this, drawn up by a government elected in1977, two years after General Franco’s death, that paved the way for Spain to become a democracy with a constitutional monarchy after 36 years governed by a dictator. The referendum drew the support of 88% of the people.
Leading up to what is such an important anniversary it seems that children and young people are given extra lessons on the history, politics and constitution of Spain. No-one is allowed to forget how the country returned to democracy.
Constitution Day is a national public holiday and is a quiet day off work for most people – except that this year, their quiet day off will be tomorrow instead of today. On the public holiday most businesses and other organisations are closed, most stores are closed but some food shops are likely to be open.
The Spanish Constitution itself is, of course, the most important symbol of Constitution Day and an original copy, signed by King Juan Carlos I, can be found in the building of the Spanish Congress of Deputies on the Carrera de San Jerónimo in Madrid.
Lisa and I quite expect to see a greater than usual multitude of the familiar red and yellow flag of Spain over the next two days as a proud people celebrate their democracy.
Then, on December 20, they go to the polls in a general election to decide who governs the country for the next four years. As a keen follower of politics and with the sheer number of parties for electors to choose between, it will be interesting for me but, rest assured, I won’t be boring you with it in this blog.
Of course, the two of us being British and American citizens, we have no vote in parliamentary elections here. I am still able to vote in UK parliamentary elections and Lisa is allowed to vote in US ballots.