The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was the first Liberal Magna Carta in Europe. Publicly enacted in Cadiz on 19 March 1812, it will be celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary on 19 March 2012. That day will commemorate the birth in Spain of liberty, civil rights, the concept of citizenship and Modern Spain.
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 was publicly enacted at the Oratorio San Felipe Neri building in Cadiz during a period in which Spain was under occupation by Napoleon's troops and coincided with the celebration of Saint Joseph's Day (San José in Spanish). Hence the name "La Pepa" since anyone with the name "José" in Spanish is familiarly known as "Pepe".
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 soon became a true symbol of democracy as it influenced the text of several other European constitutions, as well as the constitutional foundations for most Iberian-American States following their independence from Spain. "La Pepa" was the first Spanish constitution to establish popular sovereignty, the separation of powers, the freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In other words, two hundred years ago, the Spanish became pioneers when they implemented values, freedoms and civil rights in a tangible fashion that are unquestionable today and form an intrinsic part of the national identity.
Two centuries on and this historic milestone is being commemorated as an event that transformed Spain into a solid democracy. As part of these commemorations surrounding this bicentenary, plans have been made to hold numerous commemorative, cultural and academic events in the city of Cadiz throughout 2012.
The 1812 Spanish Constitution taken to Cadiz under National Police escort in commemoration of its second centenary