Political Conditions in Spain
- Type of State
Kingdom. Constitutional monarchy based on a parliamentary democracy.
Power is highly decentralized; the autonomous communities have a high level of legislative, executive and fiscal autonomy (Basque country and Navarre, own taxes).
- Executive Power
- The King is the Head of the State and the commander-in-chief of the army; his role is mostly ceremonial. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the majority of the coalition is appointed Prime Minister by the Sovereign then elected by the parliament for a 4 year tenure. The Prime Minister is the head of the government. He is also called the President of the Government. He holds executive power which includes the execution of the law and the management of the routine affairs of the country. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime minister. There is also a Council ofState which enjoys the role of the supreme consulting body of the government. But its recommendations are not binding.
The President of each Autonomous Community is from the majority party of the majority coalition winning elections of the Parliaments of the Regions which take place every 4 years. the President forms a government whose «ministers» are appointed under the title «consejeros» and seconded by a cabinet and director generals, etc. who are in charge of each Department heading the sectors for which the Autonomous Community has jurisdiction in substitution of the Spanish State (single administration).
- Legislative Power
The legislative power is bicameral. The Parliament, called Cortes Generales, is made up of:
- The Senate which has 264 seats. Its role is that of representing the territories (Autonomous Communities and Departments). The senators are elected by universal suffrage for 4 years.
- Congress of Deputies which has a minimum of 300 seats and a maximum of 400 (currently 350). The deputies are elected by universal suffrage for 4 years from departmental constituencies. There are alloted one minimum representation and the remaining is proportional to their population. To avoid splitting up which is harmful to the stability of the Chamber, the D’Hondt system is applied.
The executive wing of the government depends directly or indirectly on the parliament's support, often expressed by a vote of confidence. The legislative power belongs to the governement and the two houses of parliament at the same time. The Prime Minister does not have the authority to dissolve the parliament directly, but he can recommend its dissolution to the king. The Spanish citizens enjoy considerable political rights.
The 17 Autonomous Communities also have a legislative power exercised by their monocameral Parliament within the limit of jurisdictions fixed by each of their Statutes.
- Main Political Parties
Although Spain has a multi-party system, there are above all two dominant parties. The regional parties can be powerful within the Autonomous Communities, which makes them essential to form coalition governments. The two most important parties of the country are: the PSOE (Spanish Workers Socialist Party), a democratic socialist party, and the second oldest party, and the PP (People's Party), which is the largest liberal conservative party of Spain. The other important parties are:
- The IU (United Left), a coalition of left parties around PCE (Spanish Communist Party);
- The CiU (Convergence and Union), a conservative and nationalist party based in Catalonia, which supports market economy;
- Le PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), a centre-right political party based in Basque Country.
- Current Political Leaders
King: Juan Carlos I (since November 1975), heriditary.
President of the government and Prime Minister: Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (took oath in April 2004 and re-elected in March 2008), PSOE.
- Next Election Dates
Senate: March 2012
House of Deputies: March 2012
Indicator of Freedom of the Press
- World Rank:
- 6 places down compared to 2008
Indicator of Political Freedom
- Political Freedom:
- Civil Liberties:
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