Madrid clashes with the Balearics over cost-of-living legality measures

It is not uncommon for a regional government to clash with the Spanish government over the extent of powers, but nevertheless disagreement is usually confined to single issues, in the case of the Balearic government’s special measures to compensate for the cost-of-living crisesMadrid has objected to multiple aspects of regional legislation considered to be unconstitutional.

When such differences arise, a bilateral commission is established in order to thrash them out. If they cannot be resolved, Madrid has the right to refer them to the Constitutional Court for rulings. This happened, for example, with Balearic legislation designed to make bullfighting untenable. The court ruled against the Balearic government.

It isn’t necessarily the case that the Spanish government opposes legislation in principle, but it has to go by the book – that of the Constitution and of the Balearic statute of autonomy.

The agreements over cost-of-living measures relate to concessions for public transport, government aid for public works, incentives for renewable energies and a streamlining of the energy distribution network in the Balearics. All technical matters of law, they relate both to the cost of living and the causes of the rise in prices. Where energy is concerned, the Balearic government has been seeking means of removing dependence on Russia through the promotion of its own green energy.

Beyond these disagreements, the State Attorney’s Office has raised doubts about mostly all decree laws passed in the Balearics during the pandemic. One by one, these various issues have been resolved by bilateral commissions without the need for referral to the court, and they have all required amendments of Balearic legislation.

Relations between Madrid and Palma are good, but the regularity with which challenges have been raised highlights tensions regarding just how much autonomy an autonomous government really has.

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