26th May 2024
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Spain amends Constitution, replacing ‘handicapped’ term with ‘persons with a disability’

The Spanish Congress voted on Thursday to amend the country’s Constitution for the third time in its history, replacing the term ‘handicapped’ with ‘persons with a disability’.

People with disabilities in Spain have long demanded the change. The amendment to Article 49 also added that ‘public administrations will pursue policies that guarantee the complete autonomy and social inclusion of people with disabilities’.

There was large applause from the public gallery once the result of the vote was announced (main image).

The two largest parties, the ruling PSOE socialists and the right-wing main opposition People’s Party (PP) agreed to the amendment in a rare moment of consensus.

The amendment was also backed by all the other parties represented in the parliament, except for the far-right Vox party. It passed by a vote of 312 to 32. It required the support of three-fifths of the parliament’s lower chamber and must also be passed by the Senate, with the same margin.

The vote was actually held in the Senate house on Thursday, as the Spanish Congress building is currently undergoing refurbishment work.

‘Today is a great day for our democracy,’ said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who asked for forgiveness in name of the country for having taken so long to make the change. ‘We are paying off a moral debt that we have had with over 4 million of our fellow citizens,’ he said.

Only two prior amendments have been made to Spain’s 1978 Constitution, which marked the return to democracy after the dictatorship of Franco.

One example is the order of royal succession, to change it from the first-born male heir of the monarch to just the first-born child.

Despite a widespread consensus, Spanish MPs have made no credible attempt to amend the order in the Constitution, for fears that republican left-wing parties could push for a referendum on the future of the monarchy.

The current heir to the throne is Princess Leonor, the eldest of the two daughters born to King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia.

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