The Spanish people have maintained their reputation as the most Europhile nation since the membership’s beginning in 1986. When they approved the European Constitution 20 February 2005 with a clear majority of 76.7 per cent, there is still reason to believe that their enthusiasm has not seized. Nevertheless, the EU Treaty was going to decrease Spain’s political weight in the EU Council. It did not even change the Union’s economic agenda which implied less financial aid to Spain. In public and elite debates, questionnaires and interviews, arguments manifested a multitude of reasons for voting Yes to the Constitution. They emphasised different features of how to appreciate the membership and the Treaty.
This master thesis dives into these Yes-arguments and analyses them. They are conflicting arguments that are believed to reflect three different conceptions of the EU’s legitimacy. The analysis endeavours to point out which type of legitimation provides the best reflection of the Spanish attitude towards the EU polity. These legitimisation modes are founded on an instrumental idea, a value-cultural idea and a right-based idea. Different layers of the Spanish public and political society reveal that their Yes-arguments are underpinned by different conceptions of the EU.
The researcher seeks to establish to which conception of a legitimate EU the Spanish Yesvote speaks. Was the Treaty connected to Spain’s traditionally beneficial EU membership? Did the constitutional document awaken a community-feeling that was based on a set ofcommon traditions and values constitutive of Europe? Did it prompt self-conceiving rightsholders who spoke of the EU as a granter of fundamental rights and concomitant obligations? Together with endeavouring a reflective answer to these questions, thetheoretical framework is constantly put into consideration. To apply three models does also involve to use them critically and to evaluate the operationalisation of them. The purpose is to arrive at nuanced and reflective image of the Spanish people’s view of the EU polity.