Nation profile

Galicia
Galicia o Galiza

General information
Population
2,707.700 inhabitants (2017)
Area
29.574 km²
Institutions
Government of Galicia (Xunta), Parliament of Galicia
Major cities
Santiago de Compostela (capital), Vigo, A Coruña, Pontevedra, Ourense, Lugo
State administration
Spain
Territorial languages
Galician
Official languages
Galician and Spanish
Major religion
Christianity (Catholicism)
National day
25 July (Saint James's Day)

Presentation

Galicia is a country in the north-western corner of the Iberian Peninsula, which Galician nationalism defines as a nation, based on the existence of a particular history, culture and language. The Galician Statute of Autonomy recognizes Galicia as a “nationality”.

The territory of Galicia corresponds to that of the autonomous community of Galicia according to most conceptions, although some sectors of Galician nationalism consider that the Terra Eo-Navia (western Asturias), Bierzo (north-western León) and As Portelas (western Zamora) also belong to the Galician nation, that territory known as Galicia Estremeira or Faixa Leste.

A land of Celtic culture and language in ancient times, Galicia emerged as a kingdom in 410, founded by the Suebi. Later, the country passed into Visigothic and Leonese hands. In 1065 it separated from León and briefly restored its own monarchy. Afterwards the Kingdom of León retook Galicia, only to be both annexed by Castile, within which the Kingdom of Galicia was kept as an administrative division until 1833.

As a reaction to Spain’s administrative centralization, as of the 1840s Galicia saw the emergence of provincialist and, later on, regionalist movements, generally speaking with progressive leanings and with a program for decentralization and the promotion of the Galician language and culture (the latter point was known as Rexurdimento).

The 1910s marked the beginning of Galician nationalism itself, with the emergence of the Irmandades da Fala (their first general assembly held in 1918), which defined Galicia as a nation and demanded that Spain was turned into a federation in which Galicia would enjoy broad self-government. In a 1936 referendum, Galician voters approved a Statute of Autonomy, driven by Alfonso Castelao’s Partido Galeguista. The Statute could not enter into force due to general Francisco Franco’s coup against the Second Spanish Republic, which led to a 3-year civil war and a 40-year dictatorship.

Francoism repressed Galician nationalism; in exile, Castelao established the Council of Galicia in 1944, as the representative body of the Galician nation, as a continuation of the legitimacy of the 1936 Statute.

Once the Franco dictatorship was over, the Galician MPs in the Spanish Parliament submitted in 1979 a proposal for a new Statute of Autonomy, which was approved by referendum in Galicia in 1980 and came into force in 1981. The Statute granted Galicia legislative and executive autonomy, and Galician was made a co-official language alongside Spanish.

Politics and institutions

As with the rest of Spain’s autonomous communities, Galicia has legislative (Parliament of Galicia) and executive autonomy (Galician government, or Xunta), but lacks judicial self-government.

According to its Statute of Autonomy, Galicia has powers over Galician language and culture, tourism, local government, urban planning, agriculture, interior fishing and industry, among other areas. Galicia has fewer power than other autonomous communities in Spain, such as Euskadi, Navarre or Catalonia.

The main political party of Galician nationalism is the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), founded in 1982 and which defines itself as pro-sovereignty left-wing. It includes several political parties within it; the main one is pro-independence, communist Union of the Galician People (UPG). BNG’s goal (as approved in the party’s 2017 assembly) is the establishment of a Galician Republic, either independent or confederated with Spain. The BNG was the junior member of the Galician government between 2005 and 2009, in a coalition with the Socialist Party. The party has countinuously returned MPs to the Galician Parliament since 1985.

Pro-sovereignty, left-wing Anova was founded in 2012, splitting from BNG. The party’s strategy, unlike BNG’s, is to associate itself with state-wide, progressive forces (Podemos and Izquierda Unida, currently under the En Marea alliance) in order to achieve a sovereign Galician state within a Spanish confederal framework. Anova has returned MPs to the Galician Parliament since 2012.

Other Galician political parties are lacking MPs. Among the most prominent ones, the Galician Popular Front (FPG) is a pro-independence, anti-capitalist party which currently calls on voters to support Anova in elections. Commitment to Galicia (CxG), which defines itself as social democratic, seeks more autonomy for Galicia within Spain. Under a more diffuse pro-Galician banner, Galician Land (TeGa) has a handful of councilors in several municipalities.

President: Alberto Núñez Feijóo, PP (since 2009)
Distribution of seats in Parliament (2016 election). 75 members:
Partido Popular (PP, People's Party, pro-autonomy and centralist, centre-right and right) 41
En Marea (federalist and sovereignist, centre-left and left) 14
Partido Socialista de Galicia (PsdeG-PSOE, Socialist Party of Galicia, pro-autonomy, centre and centre-left) 14
Bloque Nacionalista Galego (BNG, Galician Nationalist Bloc, sovereignist, left) 6
Electoral system: proportional
Government: PP
Degree of autonomy
As a historical nation within the Spanish State, Galicia enjoys its own devolved powers and a selfgovernance superior from the rest of Spanish autonomous communities, although not as much as Catalonia, Euskadi or Navarra. 

Links

Language and Culture
Royal Galician Academy academia.gal
Galician Association for the Language www.agal-gz.org
Association PuntoGal, (.gal domain) www.puntogal.org
Media
Praza Pública praza.gal
Galicia Hoxe www.galiciahoxe.com
Sermos Galiza www.sermosgaliza.gal
Galicia É galiciae.com

(Last updated April 2018.)