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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Spanish civil society has been characterized as weak and state-dependent as a consequence of the long-lived Francoist dictatorship (1939–1976). Since the advent of democracy, the state has granted unions and business associations a representational monopoly and a consultative role, and promoted private groups through an inflow of legislation and the distribution of public subsidies. The pattern of interest intermediation whereby the administration was largely sealed off from interest groups has been gradually changing and opening up to different interests. Since the 1990s, new lobbying activities have been documented as well as a growth in non-profit and youth-led associations, but discrepancies still prevail as to whether this will consolidate in an upward trend. One way or another, Spain’s status as a low-middle range country in associational terms in comparative studies has not changed and the union density has remained low. The 2008 economic crisis has paved the way for the mobilization of citizens who denounced the privileged and behind-the-scenes relation between the political class and certain economic and financial interests. Political disaffection and the perception of growing corruption have come hand in hand.

Keywords: interest groups, business associations, unions, civil society, lobbies, Spain

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