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28 February 1980: Andalusians vote for autonomy

Referendum posters, Malaga's Alameda, 28 February 1980.
Referendum posters, Malaga's Alameda, 28 February 1980. / SUR
  • Today's public holiday marks the anniversary of a referendum that gave rise to Andalucía being declared one of Spain's autonomous regions

On 28 February 1980 the people of Andalucía voted in a referendum to make the region an autonomous community with devolved powers from central government.

Sixty-two per cent of the electorate, or 2.84 million people, turned out to cast their votes; of them, 55.4 per cent voted in favour of creating the autonomous region, while 3.4 per cent voted against and 36.2 per cent abstained. The remaining five per cent corresponded to unmarked or spoiled ballot papers.

The vote would go on to pave the way for the creation of institutions such as the Junta de Andalucía, the regional government which oversees the eight provinces that make up Andalucía (Huelva, Cadiz, Seville, Malaga, Jaén, Granada, Cordoba and Almeria).

The first steps for autonomy in different regions in Spain was included as Article 143 and 151 of the 1978 Spanish constitution, which was written as Spain transitioned into becoming a democracy after the death of Franco in November 1975.

On 4 December 1978, the then 11 political parties which had emerged across Andalucía since the end of Franco's one-party regime met in Antequera where they signed Andalucía pact (pacto autonómico andaluz) or the Pacto de Antequera as it became known. This step paved the way for the referendum.

Andalucía had existed as an area before 28 February 1980, but the referendum gave it a regional government with responsibility for areas as important as education and the health service. The status had already been granted to the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia under the 1978 constitution.

Andalucía's flag consists of three equal horizontal bars. The top and lower stripes are dark green and the middle stripe is white. Andalucía's coat of arms is at the centre of the flag and bears an image of the mythical Greek hero Heracles between two columns; the Pillars of Heracles. The pillars are also said to represent the rocks on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Today is a regional holiday and official events will be taking place across the whole of Andalucía to celebrate.