The professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and MEP, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, today gives the closing conference of the XXI Course in Contemporary Political History to discuss the Constitution of 1931, which he considers to be “ avant-garde for the time and rupturist, especially in the treatment of the religious and territorial question, synthesizing, in addition, the best teachings of what was the European constitutionalism of the first third of the century ”.
López Aguilar offers the talk The political framework: the Constitution of 1931, at 7:00 p.m., at the headquarters of the Juan Negrín Foundation, an entity that collaborates with this course organized by the León y Castillo de Telde House-Museum and the Faculty of Geography and History of the ULPGC and that this time is focused on the proclamation of the Second Republic when its 90th anniversary is fulfilled.
For López Aguilar, that of 31 is “a long-term Constitution that markedly influenced that of 1978, where there are many messages in the bottle from the Republican experience. Among those influences, the solution of the autonomous state stands out as a principle that was then called voluntary, and that ends up being consolidated in a federal decentralization, although it does not have that name ”.
Regarding the Constitution of 1931, he emphasizes that “it could not be consensual, as that of 1978 was intentionally, because it came from the collapse of a decadent and corrupt monarchy like that of Alfonso XIII and due to the abrupt and hasty proclamation in time. It included the main messages of the republican question, such as secularism, rationalized parliamentarism, a president of the Republic, the Government and the Courts, and the Comprehensive State, ”he says.
In this regard, he pointed out that it was a risky Constitution for the time and for Spain, because it was very innovative and with a clear break with the past, with an absolutely groundbreaking treatment on two topics: the treatment of the religious and territorial questions, “two classics of Spanish constitutionalism ”. It adds that it is the first to sign secularism, the Church-State separation and that it dissolves religious orders and subjects them to the laws of the State. Regarding the territorial question, “the experiment of autonomy or self-government for certain territories was only attempted in the Republican Constitution of 1873, although it never came into force.”
Regarding the similarities and differences between both constitutions, he assures that the teachings that are projected from 1931 to 1978 are those that print character, not only in the good, but also in the errors that should be avoided, to try other new errors. “All constitutions are imperfect and make mistakes, but it is clear that the 1978 one avoided the mistakes of the 1931.”
And among the errors that the 1931 one could have, stands out a treatment that made its normative contents indigestible for a segment that was then relevant in Spanish society, which was very minority in the Constituent Courts, in addition to an imperfect solution to the President’s dialect of the Republic, Government and Parliament, since the relationship technique between Parliament and the President of the Republic was very problematic. Among other issues, he highlights that, in his opinion, despite the success in betting on a court of guarantees, very advanced for the moment, the Constitutional Court is very poorly resolved in the republican Constitution, being politicized “and never acquired prestige through its jurisprudence.
Finally, among other successes, it stands out that it had very innovative constitutional techniques, such as the legislative referendum, which was not put into practice as a result of the short period of life that it was allowed.
Aguilar reproaches those who present the Republic as a frustrated and failed experience. “I protest against that verdict, because what is called the failure of the Republic was not due to the evils of the Constitution and its congenital defects, since all are imperfect and deserve a critical judgment, but that was not what determined its tragic fate. ”. The professor affirms that it is a Constitution “that has prestige among specialists and historians, which has been increasing over time, but unfortunately it had a validity aborted by the military rebellion and the Civil War. It was only in force for five years, when the current one has been in force for more than 42 years ”, he concludes.