Table 3: Comparative “(smart) devolution” policy analysis of three metropolitan and city-regional political cases in Europe: scaling down/up through 15 factors in Barcelona (Catalonia), Bilbao (Basque Country) and Glasgow (Scotland)

From: Metropolitan and city-regional politics in the urban age: why does “(smart) devolution” matter?

Comparative “(smart) devolution” policy analysis Barcelona (Vallbé et al, 2015; Tomàs, 2016) Bilbao (González, 2004) Glasgow (Scottish Cities Alliance, 2017)
  Catalonia (Catalonia’s Government, 2014) Basque Country (Calzada, 2011) Scotland (Scottish Government, 2013)
Metropolitan Politics Source: (European Metropolitan Authorities, 2015)      
 1. Municipalities 36 35 5
 2. Surface (km2) 636 500 368
 3. Density (Inhabit/km2) 5,060 1,820 3,171
 4. Population 3,218,223 910,480 1,166,928
 5. GDP per Capita ($) 36,157 38,708 37,753
 6. Smart city governance paradigm and ongoing transitions (Calzada, 2017b)
  • Anti-corporate-uncertain

  • From the private-sector-driven smart city “iBarcelona” (Adler, 2016) to “Barcelona initiatives in technological sovereignty” (BITS).

  • After a large investment in the “smart city strategy” (iBarcelona) (Walt, 2015; Font Monté, 2016), BITS has recently been launched (Morozov and Bria, 2017).

  • Corporate-in-transition

  • From the corporate/post-Guggenheim effect to Industry 4.0 district in Zorrozaurre.

  • After a long time without any comprehensive implementation, “As Fabrik” is presented as the flagship project now.

  • Urban-governance-transformative

  • From Glasgow smart city to Scottish smart city-region.

  • Two entirely different city-regional political networks has been established: stateless-nationalist Scottish cities Alliance and state-centric-unionist core cities.

Scaling from Metropolitan to city-regional politics      
 7. “(Smart) devolution” scales’ overlaps and contradictions: urban, metropolitan, and city-regional (Fricke and Gualini, 2017: 6)
  • 1998: Municipal charter. At the municipal level, evolving from top down to bottom up. Still an inherent conflict/mismatch between the metropolitan (MAB) (Jones, 2015), the regional (Generalitat) with SmartCat brand (Calzada, 2016b), and the local authority (city council led by Ms. Ada Colau with the new brand, BITS, based on the new “Municipalism”) (Shea Baird, 2017).

  • 2010: Law of the metropolitan area of Barcelona (MAB).

  • In 2010, a Statute aproved by the Catalan parliament was banned by the constitutional court of Spain.

  • According to Clark et al (2016: 14), fiscal devolution “should provide sustained resources for cities to enable them to make major investments in city-regional infrastructure and housing investment, for example via locally levied revenues”.

  • 1998: Scotland Act by New Labour government and first Scottish parliament in 1999 (Cairney, 2014; Clark et al, 2016; Cairney, 2017).

 8. Degrees of devolution, per se In progress High In progress
 9. Degrees of civic engagement Very high (After 1 million person demonstration) (Cuadras-Morató, 2016) Settled down (After post-violence era) (Calzada and Bildarratz, 2015) Higher (After 2014 referendum) (Pike, 2014; Geoghegan, 2015)
Scaling from city-regional to state-national politics
 10. Population in millions (city-regional contribution to the nation-state %) 7.5 (16%) 2.2 (5.50%) 5.3 (8%)
 11. GDP (city-regional contribution related to nation-states %) 19% 6% 9%
 12. Paradiplomatic branding Olympic games
Football club Barcelona
Guggenheim Bilbao Museum
Commonwealth games
Independence referendum
 13. City-network composition Barcelona, Tarragona, Girona, Lleida and Països Catalans* Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria, Pamplona and BAB Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth and Stirling
 14. Strategic drivers of “(smart) devolution” and path-dependency of “metropolitanised/civic nationalisms” (Table 1) Driven by civic society:
  • November 9, 2014: A non-binding self-determination referendum was organised.

  • September 27, 2015: A plebiscitary election with a unity list in favour of “YES” was announced.

  • 1 October 2017, “illegal” referendum and, if “YES’ won, unilateral independence declaration.

Fixed by institutions:
  • 2017: A new political status update requires the articulation of the “right to decide” beyond constitutional instruments.

  • Fiscal autonomy via economic agreement and “right to decide” binding consultation or referendum to establish the New Political Status in 2018-2019?

Facilitated by government:
  • 2016: EU referendum and the potential second independence referendum.

  • Devo-max, Brexit and second independence referendum in 2018-2019?

 15. “Right to decide”: unilateralism vs. bilateralism?
  • Structural and antagonistic dialectic with the nation-state since the Statute rejection period 2006-2010: Unilateralism.

  • No binding consultation on 9 November 2014 and the Plebiscitary Elections on 27 September 2015 (Martí and Cetrà, 2016).

  • Illegal” and unilateral referendum announced by 1 October 2017.

  • Geo-economic established bilateralism and an aborted long-run geo-politic and geo-democratic unilateral expression/claim.

  • Post-violence politics characterised by bilateralism based on the Economic agreement as a geo-economic argument.

  • The Spanish parliament rejected the Ibarretxe “Right to Decide” Plan in 2005, interpreted as geo-politic and geo-democratic unilateral expression (New York Times, 2005; Turp and Sanjaume-Calvet, 2016).

  • From rationalised dialectic based on bilateralism to post-Brexit unilateralism?

  • Independence referendum on 18 September 2014 (Keating and Harvey, 2014; Geoghegan, 2015).

  • In 2014, a rationalised dialectic based on bilateralism turned into a negative because of the PM arguing it was not “the right time now”.

  1. * Països Catalans refers to those territories where the Catalan language, or a variant of it, is spoken. It is commonly used for the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, and for the French region of Perpignan.
  2. BAB is the Biarritz-Anglet-Bayonne metropolitan conurbation, which can be considered part of the Eurocity cross-border multilevel governance instrumentarium. Bayone and Biarritz are its chief towns, included in the Basque Eurocity Bayonne-San Sebastian.