In the course of my work, I regularly integrate my international experience with learned knowledge of local political systems to meet the nation-specific needs of the campaigns I advise. This has certainly been the case with my work in Spain: Since beginning work in Barcelona, for example, I’ve delved into the country’s political framework and become an expert in the system by which I guide clients. The following post contains a high-level, introductory overview of the Spanish governing system that can serve as a springboard for research. That said, readers should keep in mind that understanding—let alone navigating—Spain’s national politics requires a great deal more information than is provided in this post.
Let’s consider Spain’s government for a moment. Interestingly enough, the modern Spanish political framework has only been in use since 1978, when the nation shook off years of military dictatorship to embrace a democratic system of government.
Spain is officially considered a Parliamentary Monarchy; in this framework, an elected Prime Minister serves as head of state while a hereditary monarch retains their historic role of state head. This parliamentary system holds authority over 17 autonomous regions a 2 autonomous cities. Each of these regional areas are governed by a similar, albeit much smaller, parliamentary systems.
Branches of Government
As in the United States, the Spanish Parliament is broken into three defined sections: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
Executive power is collectively exercised by the Cabinet of Ministers, a body comprised of the Prime Minister, the deputy Prime Ministers, and other ministers of education, defense, environment, etc.
Legislative power is held by the Cortes Generales (General Courts), a bicameral cabinet comprised of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. The Congress of Deputies (i.e., the “Lower” house of parliament) is made up of 350 elected members, and is proportionally representative of Spain’s constituencies. Each congressman is allotted a four-year term following election. The “Higher” house of Parliament, the Senate, has 265 active members. Only 208 are elected by popular vote; the other 57 are appointed by regional legislatures. As with members of Congress, elected and appointed Senators are expected to serve 4-year terms; however, appointed senators can be recalled by their regional legislatures at any point during their term.
Judicial authority is maintained by the Supreme Court of Spain, which serves as the highest court in the nation. The judicial branch is entirely independent of Spain’s other two branches of government and is considered to have jurisdiction in all territories and over all affairs excepting constitutional matters. If constitutional disputes arise, they are resolved by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
While regional parties hold considerable sway in determining region-specific, minority governments, the two main political parties in Spanish goverment are the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party and the People’s Party – both of which have risen to dominance over the last thirty years.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a highly simplified view of the Spanish political system. Each of the topics I touch upon here are well-worth a full article in their own right. I highly recommend delving into further research on Spain’s history and current political framework – it’s a complex and wonderfully rich subject.