Spain is a culturally diverse country with a significant migrant population, accounting for almost 15% of the total residents (IOM 2020b). Spain has pursued a comprehensive immigrant integration policy, with migrants enjoying basic rights, and favourable conditions including access to education, health, and labour market. However, despite general commitment to fight discrimination, migrants face discrimination, and anti-discrimination legislations remain rather weak and unable to guarantee greater equality (Solano & Huddleston 2020).
Spain’s National Action Plan on Social Inclusion guides the social integration and inclusion of migrants and other minorities. While there is reluctance towards multicultural policies, Spain pursues interculturalism as a framework for the management of diversity. It recognizes immigrant integration as a “too-way street” requiring mutual adaptation by immigrants and Spanish citizens (Tolley 2010). Intercultural policy is reflected at the local municipal level, and the government has committed to integrate intercultural pedagogy in schools to foster cultural skills and knowledge.
Spain has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.611. Moderate scores in the components of multiculturalism and anti-discrimination lend to a slightly positive legislative dimension, which indicates that there is a presence of anti-discrimination laws and related initiatives at the national level. Scores above 0.7 in the components of intercultural attitudes, inclusion and freedom and rights indicate a positive climate for intercultural opportunities to emerge. Similarly, a score above 0.7 in the component of cohesion and stability signals an optimistic institutional and structural foundation for the promotion of social cohesion. In contrast, lower scores in the components of social contact, inequality and access to communication indicate less favourable conditions which aid exposure and contact with the different ethnic groups who reside in Spain.
Current Situation and Outlook
Spain’s favourable opportunities dimension is countered by its moderate legislative and structural dimensions. Despite Spain’s allowance for autonomous communities to recognize their dominant regional languages and dialects by granting them an official status alongside Castilian or Spanish, low scores in the components of social contact indicate that there could be little cultural participation amongst different ethnic and cultural groups. Spain could improve its ICDI score by strengthening the presence of anti-discrimination and diversity laws and policies with the intention of paving way for increased opportunities for social contact and improving access to communication.