Location of Portugal and Spain in Europe

Iberian federalism, Pan-Iberism or simply Iberism (Spanish, Basque, Portuguese and Galician: Iberismo, Catalan: Iberisme) is a pan-nationalist ideology developed mainly during the beginning of the 20th century,[citation needed] supporting the federation into a single state of the two main countries on the Iberian Peninsula: Portugal and Spain.

These unification ideas were promoted mainly by minority republican and socialist movements in both nations. There was never any popular support in Andorra and Gibraltar in favour of joining such a project[citation needed].

Background and precursors

Further information: Iberian Union and Iberian Pact

Portugal and Spain share a common history. Spanish and Portuguese are both Romance languages and have influenced each other and both countries have similar ethnicity and culture.

The Portuguese language began its independent evolution from the medieval Galician-Portuguese when the County of Portugal separated from the Kingdom of Galicia by becoming the Kingdom of Portugal. On the other hand, the Galician language has become increasingly influenced by the Castilian language since Galicia's incorporation into the Crown of Castile as a dependent Kingdom of León.

The identities of both modern Spain and Portugal developed during the experience of the Reconquista. In 1512, Ferdinand II of Aragon conquered the Kingdom of Navarre bringing the territories of what would become known as modern Spain under a common ruler. However Portugal remained an independent kingdom, competing with Spain (Castile) in colonial expansion. To avoid conflict, the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world into Portuguese and Castilian hemispheres of influence.

The coat of arms of the Habsburgs included Portugal between Castile and Aragon.

As a result of the disappearance of Sebastian I of Portugal at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir, Philip II of Spain exerted his dynastic rights and used Castilian troops to overcome the rival pretender. The national poet of Portugal Luís de Camões opposed Philip, but had himself written some sonnets in Spanish (bilingualism was then common in both courts).

In 1581, Philip became Philip I of Portugal, joining both crowns into the most extended empire in history up to that time. The Spanish Habsburgs (Philip III of Spain and II of Portugal, Philip IV of Spain and III of Portugal) ruled what has later been called the Iberian Union, a personal union of different kingdoms, including Portugal (with its colonies), Castile (with its colonies), and Aragon. In 1640, the duke of Bragança gathered those restless in Portugal with the support of Cardinal Richelieu of France. His rebellion succeeded and he became the John IV of Portugal. The North African city of Ceuta decided to leave the crown of Portugal and remain under the Spanish king.

In 1801, the Portuguese city of Olivença was occupied by Spain and passed to Spanish sovereignty as Olivenza. Portugal has never made a formal claim to the territory after the Treaty of Vienna, but has equally never directly acknowledged the Spanish sovereignty over Olivenza. There is no common definition of the border in the area.

It was José Marchena who, in the 18th century, gave this doctrine a progressive, federal and republican tone in l'Avis aux espagnols. In the Liberal Triennium (1820–1823), the secret liberal organizations tried to spread Iberism in Portugal, to create seven confederated republics, five in Spain and Lusitania Ulterior and Lusitania Citerior in Portugal. In the later Revolutionary Sexennium, the movement reached its apogee; General Prim was also in favour of uniting the 2 countries. After his murder, the First Spanish Republic (1873–1874) seemed the right moment for the union given its federalism.

The monarchic flag of Portugal (1832-1910)

In the 20th century, Iberism melted into the ideologies of some leftist currents such as the anarchist Federación Anarquista Ibérica and the Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias.

The nationalistic dictatorships of Portugal and Francoist Spain shared many political similarities and some degree of mutual support but both countries were said to live "back to back".[citation needed]

Currently no party represented in either country's parliament has the goal of Iberism but both countries joined the European Economic Community in 1986 and their borders have been opened since then. The Spanish party Izquierda Republicana, currently without representation in the parliament, defend 'Iberian Federalism' as political structure for the state.[1]

Large companies have opened shop in the neighboring country, and the Portuguese state closed the birth center of Elvas, sending patients to the Extremadura health system.[2][3] Some groups defend Iberism, including some Spanish and Portuguese officers.[4] One 2006 survey [5] showed only 28% of the Portuguese think that Portugal and Spain should be one country. 42% of these would put the capital in Madrid and a 41% in Lisbon. 96.5% thought that the economy of Portugal would fare better in a union with Spain, and more than a half would accept Juan Carlos I of Spain (who was exiled near Lisbon) as head of state (note that the survey was taken at a moment of crisis in the Portuguese economy). A similar survey in Spain[citation needed], after the Portuguese one, showed that 45.7% of Spanish think that Portugal and Spain should merge; this support is especially higher among younger citizens (18 to 24 years old) and communities near the border with Portugal. But in Spain only 3.3% would prefer Lisbon as the capital, while 80% would prefer Madrid. 43.4% think the country should be known as España/Espanha (Spain) against 39.4% preferring Iberia.

A new poll conducted in 2011 showed that 39.8% of Spaniards and 46.1% of Portuguese supported the creation of a federation between the two countries.[6]

Flag of Iberia

Iberist flag, mixing the colors of the old flag of Portugal and the Spanish flag[7]

The Iberian flag was created by the Catalan diplomat and writer Sinibaldo de Mas i Sans in 1854. It is quartered with the colours of the monarchist Portuguese (blue and white) and Spanish flags (red and yellow), dating from 1830 and 1785 respectively. The Iberian flag is older than the republican Spanish and Portuguese flags (1931 and 1911 respectively).

It is not a coincidence that the Iberian flag has the same colours (in a different order) as the flag of the Maritime Province of Barcelona. Barcelona was the birthplace of Mas i Sans.

According to some Iberists,[who?] the Federation or Confederation should be formed by the peninsular parts of Portugal and Spain (without the Aran Valley, which should belong to Gascony), the Balearic Islands, Gibraltar, Andorra, and the Basque and Catalan regions of France. Five languages should be official: Spanish, Galician, Portuguese, Catalan and Basque.

Mas i Sans wanted the federal or confederate capital city of Iberia to be established at Santarém, Ribatejo, Portugal, but the capital city of the Diocesis Hispaniarum, created by the Roman Emperor Diocletianus in 287 was Emerita Augusta (modern Mérida), in Spanish Extremadura.

Iberist personalities

See also


  1. ^ un modelo de estado basado en el federalismo iberista, Izquierda Republicana, 17 January 2012.
  2. ^ Prevén que 350 niños portugueses nazcan cada año en Badajoz, Hoy, 6 March 2006.
  3. ^ Badajoz realizou 15 partos de grávidas alentejanas num mês Archived 21 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Diário de Notícias, 12 July 2006.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2006. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Internacional (25 June 2016). "El 40% de los españoles a favor de la creación de una federación entre España y Portugal". 20minutos.es. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  7. ^ Antonio Martins. "Iberian Federalist Flag". Retrieved 30 September 2006.