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Spain is a parliamentary monarchy. Chief of state is the hereditary monarch and the head of government is the President of the Government. The President designates the cabinet which is called the Council of Ministers. Spain is also has a bicameral legislative branch. The General Courts or National Assembly or Las Cortes Generales consists of the Senate or Senado and the Congress of Deputies or Congreso de los Diputados (CIA World Factbook). In order for legislation to pass the two chambers must agree. Proposals of laws issued by the Senate are discussed at Congress in a Plenary Session in order to be accepted or tabled veto or be amended. The proposal of the law passes to the study of a Commission. The Commission writes a short text about the proposal which will be discussed and voted in Plenary Session. Once the text is approved by the Congress proposal of law is submitted by its President to the Senate. Senate may then accept, block a veto or make amendments. If Senate rejects the text by an absolute majority then the text goes back to Congress which can at that point either approve the bill or proposal of law by the same majority required at the Senate or Congress can wait for two months and approve the text by a simple majority. In both cases the text is the one approved initially by Congress. If Senate introduces amendments, Congress only has to accept or reject them by a simple majority. If the text is accepted without any modifications then the text is ready to be sanctioned by the King (U.S. Library of Congress).
A party must obtain a minimum of 3 percent of the vote in order to qualify for parliamentary representation. Each province is to have a minimum of two seats in the Congress of Deputies, plus one additional seat for every 144,500 inhabitants or fraction over 70,000 inhabitants (U.S. Library of Congress). Members of Congress are elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation to serve four-year terms. Each province is allotted four seats in the Senate, regardless of population. Members of the Senate are directly elected by popular vote for 208 seats and 51 are appointed by the regional legislatures to serve four-year terms (CIA World Factbook).
Election Results/ Party System
As of today the number of parties present in the Senate totals six.
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Party Name Vote Shares Seats Seat Shares
Popular Party 49% 102 49.1%
Spanish Socialist Workers Party 38.9% 81 38.9%
Entesa Catalonia de Progress 5.7% 12 5.8%
Convergence and Union 1.99% 4 1.9%
Basque Nationalist Party 2.8% 6 2.9%
Canarian Coalition 1.4% 3 1.4%
Total: 99.79% Total: 208 Total: 100%
In the Congress there are seven parties that hold seats and eight seats in the Congress of Deputies are held by non-partisan members. The parties represented in the Congress of Deputies are the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the Popular Party (PP), the Convergence and Union (CiU), the Left of Catalonia (ERC), the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), the United Left (IU), Canarian Coalition (CC), and others.
Party Name Vote Shares Seats Seat Share
Spanish Socialist Workers Party 43.3% 164 46.8%
Popular Party 37.8% 148 42.2%
Convergence and Union 3.2% 10 2.9%
Left of Catalonia 2.5% 8 2.3%
Basque Nationalist Party 1.6% 7 2%
United Left 3.2% 2 0.6%
Canarian Coalition 0.9% 3 0.9%
Other 8 2.3%
Total: 92.5% 350 Total:100%
All table information taken from CIA World Factbook
The President of the Government of current for Spain is Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. President of Government Rodriguez Zapatero is from the party Spanish Socialist Workers Party. The President’s party does not have a majority of the seats in both chambers of parliament. The PSOE, which is party of the President, has control of the Congress, but the Popular Party controls the Senate. The government is a minority government since neither of the parties has more than 50 percent of the seat shares in either chamber.
The most recent election was during March 14, 2004 which was a landslide win for the PSOE. During previous years, it was always the Popular Party, the conservatives, who would beat the PSOE, the liberals, in presidential and National Assembly elections. This most recent election where the PSOE, Spanish Socialist Workers Party, reigned victors reflected the opposition the population felt against the Iraq war which the PP and its leader Anzar supported. The now President of Government, Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero pledged his promise if elected that he would withdraw the Spanish troops from the war (Stuart, BBC News). This election had one of the highest voter turnouts in history with a incredible 77.2 percent coming out to the polls, with 42 percent of the vote going to the PSOE (Stuart, BBC News). The elections also took place after terrorist bombings in Madrid that killed and injured many; at that time the Prime Minister Anzar claimed it to be acts of Basque separatists but evidence proved the acts to be linked to al-Qaeda which really upset the population when they discovered Anzar’s attempt to exploit the atrocity (Stuart, BBC News).
CIA World Factbook. “Spain (as amended until April 21, 2005)”, URL (consulted May 2005): http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/sp.html#Govt
Stuart, Paul. 2004. “Spanish Government Admits Defeat (March 15, 2004)”, BBC News, URL (consulted May 2005): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3511280.stm
U.S. Library of Congress. “A Country Study: Spain (as amended until December 1990)”, URL (consulted May 2005): http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgibin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+es0009)