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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Political, social and economic background and trends


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

Last update: 22 December 2023

Spain is a State under social and democratic rule of law, which advocates justice, equality and political pluralism as the highest values of its legal system. Its political structure is that of a parliamentary monarchy. The King is Head of State and there is division between the legislative, executive and judicial powers. The 1978 Constitution is the supreme law of the Spanish legal order, which sets out the right to education and academic freedom in its article 27.

One of the features of the territorial organisation of the State is decentralisation, which implies the entitlement to autonomy, recognised by the Constitution of the autonomous communities, provinces and municipalities. The State shall act as guarantor, with appropriateness and fairness, of the principle of solidarity and economic balance amongst the different areas of the Spanish territory, taking account of the circumstances of insularity.

The decentralisation of the State has led to a major transformation of its territorial organisation, which, in the field of education, involves:

  • The distribution of educational powers between the State General Administration (Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports) and the Autonomous Communities (Departments for Education). The process of devolved administrations from the State towards the Autonomous Communities concluded in the year 2000.
  • The education authorities delegate to municipalities the exercise of powers in areas which directly relate to the latter's interests, and which they manage through municipal education departments or institutes for education.

The demographic situation of Spain, which exceeds 48 million inhabitants, is characterized by the ageing of the population. Unemployment, which is one of the other major social problems, especially affects youngsters and influences their chances of emancipation. Regarding migratory flows, the balance is positive according to data from 2022.

Spain is a multilingual country where, in addition to Spanish as the official language, ocertain Autonomous Communities have other languages with co-official status: Catalan, Basque, Galician, Occitan (Aranese), and Valencian. Furthermore, in Spain, other languages such as Asturian are spoken, and while they do not hold the status of co-official languages, they do have protection by the state.