The political institutions at regional level – the case of Autonomous Communities in Portugal (Azores and Madeira’ Islands) and Spain (Canary Islands)

GT 2.2 Gobierno multinivel y autonomía local. La reestructuración política del territorio

Teresa Ruel (ICS-UL)

The institutional arrangements are an important element that influences what we can call a “good” democracy, but also economic and social development. Citizens, democracy promoters and decision-makers want to know how strong their democracy is; how its performance has improved over the time; how their institutions and practices answer popular aspirations and demands and in what extend these are underperforming in order to implement the necessary reforms and adjustments. Political institutions create incentives and influence the strategic choice made by the political actors. They define the “rules of the game” in political life.

The purpose of this communication emphasizes the institutional arrangements at the regional level, focusing the Autonomous Communities in Portugal and Spain. The transformations that happened after the “third wave” of democratization, had different rhythms and different combinations, which determined the nature and functioning of the political system, at the European, national, regional and local level. The consolidation of democratic values and practices did not take place uniformly and simultaneously throughout the national territory. In this line, we try to explain the structure and functioning of political institutions in the Autonomous Communities in Portugal and Spain.

The main concern relates to the democratic process with the analysis of regional institutions arrangements associated with the Autonomous Communities, as well as the different paths of democratization and balances within the State, and the extent to which lead or allow an improvement in the quality of democracy.

Key words: Autonomous Communities; regional political power; political and legislative autonomy.