Updated: February 14, 2023Published: January 24, 2023
Is there a country in a world that follows classic Liberalism? Yes, and that country is NOT Spain.
That doesn’t mean that the country is authoritarian or socialist, but that Spain holds a mixed ideology that stands for a little bit of everything.
If you were looking for an easy explanation of Spanish politics, this article would give you the basic concepts you need to create a big picture on Spain’s level of liberalism.
Spain is at a intermediate level of liberalism, but one thing is true: this country welcomes anyone disregarding their race, age, or sexual orientation.
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Is Spain a liberal country?
Spain is a constitutional monarchy that also practices liberal democracies, but it isn’t among the most and best liberal countries in the world.
What is Liberalism?
Before letting you know Spain’s position on Liberalism, I think the best way to answer this question is by defining what Liberalism is and then indicating what other institutions have to say about Spain’s level of Liberalism.
So, what does it mean for a country to be liberal?
Liberalism is a political and economic doctrine in which the government guarantees civil rights, freedom, and responsibilities in societies. From an economic view, Liberalism suggests that governments should have limited intervention except to ensure basic living standards.
People with liberal beliefs support ideals and policies on individual freedoms, social justice, civil rights, and equal economic opportunities. Additionally, it opposes discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.
As you can see, Liberalism is a broad spectrum, a philosophy that influences politics and economics, and the degree to which countries apply it will undoubtedly vary.
The digital platform, Wise Voter, defines Liberal Democracy as:
“Countries in which citizens have the right to actively participate in political processes, such as voting and expressing their opinions through speech and peaceful protest. These countries typically also grant various civil liberties, such as freedom of religion, speech, and press”.
After knowing all of the above, can we picture what it means to be liberal?
According to Wise Voter and Our World in Data, in the Liberal Democracy Index, Spain has a punctuation of 0.78. The latter places the country in the 18th position of a ranking that considers protected civil liberties, the strong rule of law, an independent judiciary, adequate checks and balances, and electoral democracy.
In the Human Freedom Index, Spain scored 8,25, which puts Spain in the 25th position.
How liberal is Spain compared to Europe?
Under the same metrics, the most liberal European country is Sweden, with a score of 0.88. A score that high is due to its progressive policies, such as a generous welfare system, rigorous environmental regulations, and comprehensive civil rights laws that ensure citizens are safe and able to exercise their political freedoms.
The Danish, Norwegians, and Estonians follow the Swedish very closely.
The only country in Western Europe that scores less than Spain is Italy, with an index of 0.77.
Liberal Politicals Parties in Spain
Spain has 25 registered political parties, but none can be considered classic liberal.
The parties Ciudadanos (Cs) and Partido Popular (PP) argue that their ideology is liberal-conservative, which means that it is a less radical version of classic Liberalism.
I will link a video below if you want to know more about the two most powerful political parties in Spain:
Free Market in Spain
Once again, the concept of a free market is perfect in theory, but accomplishing it in practice is more complicated.
A free market is defined as:
“The free market is an economic system based on supply and demand with little or no government control” - Investopedia.
Spain is categorized as a moderately free market, ranking in position 41. This is because the country follows a mixed capitalist economy in which private freedom is combined with centralized planning and government intervention.
Not so much Spain went through a dictatorship; the country wasn’t fully democratic until the late 70’s when former king Carlos I (assigned by Francisco Franco) transitioned the country into a democracy.
The latter means that the Spanish constitution is not that old. The Spanish people approved the present-day document in a referendum in December 1978. And that constitution restates the civil rights and freedom many minorities lost during Franco’s dictatorship.
Spain can very much be considered a liberal country under the proclamation that chapter II, section 14 of the constitution makes about the rights and freedoms of citizens.
The constitution states:
“Spaniards are equal before the law and may not in any way be discriminated against on account of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.”
From sections 14 to 38, the constitution enlists a Spanish citizen’s rights, freedoms, and duties. These paragraphs include the freedom of ideology, security, privacy, expression, education, and work, among others.
I will link the government’s official website, where you can read more about Spanish civil rights.
Now you know that Spain has incorporated many aspects of the liberal ideology in its constitution, while keeping a conservative side in its economy and political parties. Remember that in the ranking for ’liberal democracy, Spain has a score of 0.78 which is not low, but niether the best.
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!