Spain political system: Spain – Political and electoral system

Spain – Political and electoral system

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Political and administrative structure

Spain is a unitary state with a parliamentary monarchy government. Territorially, it is organized through three levels of power that are organized by the principle of jurisdiction, there being no hierarchical order between them: State, Autonomous Communities and Local Entities. All these entities enjoy managerial autonomy of their respective interests. ( Title VIII, Chap. 1, Art. 137, Spanish Constitution)

Municipal government

The Constitution guarantees the autonomy of the municipalities. These enjoy full legal power. Its government and administration correspond to their respective governments, comprised by Mayors and Councillors. The councillors are elected by the local population through universal, fair, free, direct and secret suffrage, as established by law. The Mayors are elected by the Councillors or the local population. Law regulates the conditions under which the open council regime operates. (Title VII, Chap. 1, Art. 140, Spanish Constitution). The organization of the municipal system is heterogeneous, the particularities of the governments are fundamentally based on the size of the population. Broadly speaking, it its possible to distinguish the different municipal systems: Common Regime Large Population Municipal Organization, directed to those with more than 75,000 inhabitants or the present special economic, social, historical or cultural circumstances. Madrid and Barcelona, the most populated cities in the nation, enjoy a particular regime. Open Council regime , in which small municipalities and the territorial entities inferior to he municipality that do not achieve a significant number of inhabited is governed by an assembly system: The neighbourhood assembly, which serves as the full council. According to current law (Law 7/1985), the system is reserved for those municipalities with less than one hundred inhabitants and those that have traditionally functioned in such a manner. This regime is also applied to those municipalities whose specific location, municipal management or other circumstances make it advisable; in these case, it requires a request by the majority of the population, a favourable decision by 2/3 of the member of the government and approval by the Autonomous Community. Source: “El Régimen Local en España”. Dirección general de Cooperación Local, Secretaría de Estado de Cooperación Territorial, Ministerio de Administraciones Públicas, Gobierno de España.

Duration of terms

4 years.

Representation system

The local electoral system is proportional. Spanish and resident European Union citizens can participate in municipal elections as well as those countries that recognize such rights under treaty law. The election for Mayor is indirect, except in the open Council in which all inhabitants directly elect the Mayor. This system is only applied in small municipalities. “El Régimen Local en España”. Dirección general de Cooperación Local, Secretaría de Estado de Cooperación Territorial, Ministerio de Administraciones Públicas, Gobierno de España.

Type of list

In Municipalities with less than 250 inhabitants, the lists are open. In Municipalities with more than 250 inhabitants, the lists are closed and blocked.

Electoral constituency

Single candidate for mayors, multiple candidates for councilors. Each municipality constitutes a districted in which the number of councillors are elected that result in the application of the following scale (Art. 179, Ley 5/1985):

  • Councillors Up to 100 residents, 3
  • From 101 to 250 residents, 5
  • From 251 to 1,000, 7
  • From 1,001 to 2,000, 9
  • From 2,001 to 5,000, 11
  • From 5,001 to 10,000, 13
  • From 10,001 to 20,000, 17
  • From 20,001 to 50,000, 21
  • From 50,001 to 100,000 25

From 100,001 upwards, a councillor for more than 100,000 residents or fraction, adding one more when the result is an even number. The scale shown in the previous paragraph does not apply to municipalities that, according to legislation governing the local regime, function according to an open council. In these municipalities, the electorate directly choose the Mayor through a majority system.

Quota and parity laws

The Equality Law, modifies the Organic Law of 5/1985, of the General Electoral Regime. It adds article 44 bis that states that “Candidatures that are presented for Lower house Congressional elections, municipal elections, and elections of members for insular councils and those of the Canary Islands under the terms of this Law, representatives to the European Parliament and members of Legislative Assemblies of the Autonomous Communities must have a balanced composition of women and men, so that in the total list of candidates there is at least 40% representation of each sex. When the number of posts to cover a less than five, the proportion of women and men will be the closest possible to numerical equilibrium” (art. 44 bis, Organic Law of 5/1985). It also indicated that “stipulated in article 44 bis of this law is not applicable to candidatures that are presented in municipalities with less than or equal to 3,000 inhabitants” and “is not applicable to candidatures that are presented in islands with less than or equal to 5,000 inhabitants” (Pto. 2 and 3, art. 44 bis, Organic Law of 5/1985). Finally, it states that “in the announcement of municipal elections that were held before 2011, that which is stated in article 44 bis will only apply in those municipalities with more than 5,000 inhabitants, applying beginning 1 of January of that year the number of inhabitants stated in the second paragraph of article 187 of the current Law”(Pto. 5, art. 44 bis, Equality Law). In Spain, at both the national as well as autonomous level, the nullification of candidatures is possible if they do not fulfil the legal requirements of the distribution of candidates by sex (art. 44 bis, Equality Law).

Legal instruments applicable to municipalities

Spanish Constitution of 1978 Law 7/1985, 2 April, which regulates the norms for local government Royal Legislative Decree 781/1986, 18 April, that approved the revised text of current legal provisions regarding local government Royal Legislative Decree 2/2004, 5 March, that approves the revised text of the Regulatory Law of Local Housing Law 1/2006, 13 March, that regulates the special regime of the Municipality of Barcelona Law 22/2006, 4 July, on the Capital and Special Regime of Madrid Organic Law 3/2007, 22 March. Equality Law, for the effective equality between men and women Source: “El Régimen Local en España”. Dirección general de Cooperación Local, Secretaría de Estado de Cooperación Territorial, Ministerio de Administraciones Públicas, Gobierno de España.

Electoral Justice

Central Election Board Organic Law 5/1985, 19 June, of the General Election Regime

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Spain, country located in extreme southwestern Europe. It occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula, which it shares with its smaller neighbour Portugal.

Spain is a storied country of stone castles, snowcapped mountains, vast monuments, and sophisticated cities, all of which have made it a favoured travel destination. The country is geographically and culturally diverse. Its heartland is the Meseta, a broad central plateau half a mile above sea level. Much of the region is traditionally given over to cattle ranching and grain production; it was in this rural setting that Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote tilted at the tall windmills that still dot the landscape in several places. In the country’s northeast are the broad valley of the Ebro River, the mountainous region of Catalonia, and the hilly coastal plain of Valencia. To the northwest is the Cantabrian Mountains, a rugged range in which heavily forested, rain-swept valleys are interspersed with tall peaks. To the south is the citrus-orchard-rich and irrigated lands of the valley of the Guadalquivir River, celebrated in the renowned lyrics of Spanish poets Federico García Lorca and Antonio Machado; over this valley rises the snowcapped Sierra Nevada. The southern portion of the country is desert, an extension of the Sahara made familiar to Americans through the “spaghetti western” films of the 1960s and early ’70s. Lined with palm trees, rosemary bushes, and other tropical vegetation, the southeastern Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands enjoy a gentle climate, drawing millions of visitors and retirees, especially from northern Europe.

Spain’s countryside is quaint, speckled with castles, aqueducts, and ancient ruins, but its cities are resoundingly modern. The Andalusian capital of Sevilla (Seville) is famed for its musical culture and traditional folkways; the Catalonian capital of Barcelona for its secular architecture and maritime industry; and the national capital of Madrid for its winding streets, its museums and bookstores, and its around-the-clock lifestyle. Madrid is Spain’s largest city and is also its financial and cultural centre, as it has been for hundreds of years.

The many and varied cultures that have gone into the making of Spain—those of the Castilians, Catalonians, Lusitanians, Galicians, Basques, Romans, Arabs, Jews, and Roma (Gypsies), among other peoples—are renowned for their varied cuisines, customs, and prolific contributions to the world’s artistic heritage. The country’s Roman conquerors left their language, roads, and monuments, while many of the Roman Empire’s greatest rulers were Spanish, among them Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius. The Moors, who ruled over portions of Spain for nearly 800 years, left a legacy of fine architecture, lyric poetry, and science; the Roma contributed the haunting music called the cante jondo (a form of flamenco), which, wrote García Lorca, “comes from remote races and crosses the graveyard of the years and the fronds of parched winds. It comes from the first sob and the first kiss.” Even the Vandals, Huns, and Visigoths who swept across Spain following the fall of Rome are remembered in words and monuments, which prompted García Lorca to remark, “In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world.”

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A Visit to Europe

In 1492, the year the last of the Moorish rulers were expelled from Spain, ships under the command of Christopher Columbus reached America. For 300 years afterward, Spanish explorers and conquerors traveled the world, claiming huge territories for the Spanish crown, a succession of Castilian, Aragonese, Habsburg, and Bourbon rulers. For generations Spain was arguably the richest country in the world, and certainly the most far-flung. With the steady erosion of its continental and overseas empire throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, however, Spain was all but forgotten in world affairs, save for the three years that the ideologically charged Spanish Civil War (1936–39) put the country at the centre of the world’s stage, only to become ever more insular and withdrawn during the four decades of rule by dictator Francisco Franco. Following Franco’s death in 1975, a Bourbon king, Juan Carlos, returned to the throne and established a constitutional monarchy. The country has been ruled since then by a succession of elected governments, some socialist, some conservative, but all devoted to democracy.


Spain is bordered to the west by Portugal; to the northeast it borders France, from which it is separated by the tiny principality of Andorra and by the great wall of the Pyrenees Mountains. Spain’s only other land border is in the far south with Gibraltar, an enclave that belonged to Spain until 1713, when it was ceded to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. Elsewhere the country is bounded by water: by the Mediterranean Sea to the east and southeast, by the Atlantic Ocean to the northwest and southwest, and by the Bay of Biscay (an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean) to the north. The Canary (Canarias) Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwestern African mainland, and the Balearic (Baleares) Islands, in the Mediterranean, also are parts of Spain, as are Ceuta and Melilla, two small enclaves in North Africa (northern Morocco) that Spain has ruled for centuries.

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Spain accounts for five-sixths of the Iberian Peninsula, the roughly quadrilateral southwestern tip of Europe that separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. Most of Spain comprises a large plateau (the Meseta Central) divided by a mountain range, the Central Sierra (Sistema Central), which trends west-southwest to east-northeast. Several mountains border the plateau: the Cantabrian Mountains (Cordillera Cantábrica) to the north, the Iberian Cordillera (Sistema Ibérico) to the northeast and east, the Sierra Morena to the south, and the lower mountains of the Portuguese frontier and Spanish Galicia to the northwest. The Pyrenees run across the neck of the peninsula and form Spain’s border with France. There are two major depressions, that of the Ebro River in the northeast and that of the Guadalquivir River in the southwest. In the southeast the Baetic Cordillera (Sistema Penibético) runs broadly parallel to the coast to merge with the mountains of the Iberian Cordillera. Along the Mediterranean seaboard there are coastal plains, some with lagoons (e.g., Albufera, south of Valencia). Offshore in the Mediterranean, the Balearic Islands are an unsubmerged portion of the Baetic Cordillera. The Canary Islands in the Atlantic are of volcanic origin and contain the highest peak on Spanish territory, Teide Peak, which rises to 12,198 feet (3,718 metres) on the island of Tenerife.

Spain has some of the oldest as well as some of the youngest rocks of Europe. The entire western half of Iberia, with the exception of the extreme south, is composed of ancient (Hercynian) rocks; geologists refer to this Hercynian block as the Meseta Central. It constitutes a relatively stable platform around which younger sediments accumulated, especially on the Mediterranean side. In due course these sediments were pushed by major earth movements into mountain ranges. The term meseta is also used by geographers and local toponymy to designate the dominating relief unit of central Iberia. As a result, the Meseta Central defined by relief is subdivided by geology into a crystalline west (granites and gneisses) and a sedimentary east (mainly clays and limestones). The northern Meseta Central, which has an average elevation of 2,300 feet (700 metres), corresponds to the tablelands, or plateau, of Castile and León, although it is in fact a basin surrounded by mountains and drained by the Douro (Duero) River. The southern Meseta Central (the Meseta of Castile–La Mancha) is some 330 feet (100 metres) lower. Its relief is more diverse, however, owing to heavy faulting and warping caused by volcanic activity around the Calatrava Plain and to two complex river systems (the Guadiana and the Tagus) separated by mountains. Its southern plains rise gradually to the Sierra Morena. The southeastern side of this range drops almost vertically by more than 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) to the Guadalquivir depression. Dividing the northern and southern Mesetas are the Central Sierras, one of the outstanding features of the Iberian massif. Their highest points—Peñalara Peak at 7,972 feet (2,430 metres) and Almanzor Peak at 8,497 feet (2,590 metres)—rise well above the plains of the central plateau. In contrast, the granitic Galician mountains, at the northwestern end of the Hercynian block, have an average elevation of only 1,640 feet (500 metres), decreasing toward the deeply indented (ria) coast of the Atlantic seaboard.

Part of Alpine Europe, the Pyrenees form a massive mountain range that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bay of Biscay, a distance of some 270 miles (430 km). The range comprises a series of parallel zones: the central axis, a line of intermediate depressions, and the pre-Pyrenees. The highest peaks, formed from a core of ancient crystalline rocks, are found in the central Pyrenees—notably Aneto Peak at 11,168 feet (3,404 metres)—but those of the west, including Anie Peak at 8,213 feet (2,503 metres), are not much lower. The mountains fall steeply on the northern side but descend in terraces to the Ebro River trough in the south. The outer zones of the Pyrenees are composed of sedimentary rocks. Relief on the nearly horizontal sedimentary strata of the Ebro depression is mostly plain or plateau, except at the eastern end where the Ebro River penetrates the mountains to reach the Mediterranean Sea.

A series of sierras trending northwest-southeast forms the Iberian Cordillera, which separates the Ebro depression from the Meseta and reaches its highest elevation with Moncayo Peak at 7,588 feet (2,313 metres). In the southeast the Iberian Cordillera links with the Baetic Cordillera, also a result of Alpine earth movements. Although more extensive—more than 500 miles (800 km) long and up to 150 miles (240 km) wide—and with peninsular Spain’s highest summit, Mulhacén Peak, at 11,421 feet (3,481 metres), the Baetic ranges are more fragmented and less of a barrier than the Pyrenees. On their northern and northwestern sides they flank the low-lying and fairly flat Guadalquivir basin, the average elevation of which is only 426 feet (130 metres) on mainly clay strata. Unlike the Ebro basin, the Guadalquivir depression is wide open to the sea on the southwest, and its delta has extensive marshland (Las Marismas).


Although some maintain that “aridity rivals civil war as the chief curse of [historic] Spain,” the Iberian Peninsula has a dense network of streams, three of which rank among Europe’s longest: the Tagus at 626 miles (1,007 km), the Ebro at 565 miles (909 km), and the Douro at 556 miles (895 km). The Guadiana and the Guadalquivir are 508 miles (818 km) and 408 miles (657 km) long, respectively. The Tagus, like the Douro and the Guadiana, reaches the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal. In fact, all the major rivers of Spain except the Ebro drain into the Atlantic Ocean. The hydrographic network on the Mediterranean side of the watershed is poorly developed in comparison with the Atlantic systems, partly because it falls into the climatically driest parts of Spain. However, nearly all Iberian rivers have low annual volume, irregular regimes, and deep valleys and even canyons. Flooding is always a potential hazard. The short, swift streams of Galicia and Cantabria, draining to the northwestern and northern coasts, respectively, have only a slight or, at most, modest summer minimum. The predominant fluvial regime in Spain is thus characterized by a long or very long summer period of low water. This is the regime of all the major arteries that drain the Meseta as well as those of the Mediterranean seaboard, such as the Júcar and the Segura: for example, from August to September the Guadiana River usually has less than one-tenth of its average annual flow. Only the Ebro River has a relatively constant and substantial flow—19,081 cubic feet (540 cubic metres) per second at Tortosa—coming from snowmelt as well as rainfall in the high Pyrenees. In comparison, the flow of the Douro is only 5,050 cubic feet (143 cubic metres) per second. The flow of many Iberian streams has been reduced artificially by water extraction for purposes such as irrigation. Subterranean flow is well-developed in limestone districts.


There are five major soil types in Spain. Two are widely distributed but of limited extent: alluvial soils, found in the major valleys and coastal plains, and poorly developed, or truncated, mountain soils. Brown forest soils are restricted to humid Galicia and Cantabria. Acidic southern brown earths (leading to restricted crop choice) are prevalent on the crystalline rocks of the western Meseta, and gray, brown, or chestnut soils have developed on the calcareous and alkaline strata of the eastern Meseta and of eastern Spain in general. Saline soils are found in the Ebro basin and coastal lowlands. Calcretes (subsoil zonal crusts [toscas], usually of hardened calcium carbonate) are particularly well-developed in the arid regions of the east: La Mancha, Almería, Murcia, Alicante (Alacant), and Valencia, as well as the Ebro and Lleida (Lérida) basins.

Soil erosion resulting from the vegetation degradation suffered by Spain for at least the past 3,000 years has created extensive badlands, reduced soil cover, downstream alluviation, and, more recently, silting of dams and irrigation works. Particularly affected are the high areas of the central plateau and southern and eastern parts of Spain. Although the origins of some of the spectacular badlands of southeastern Spain, such as Guadix, may lie in climatic conditions from earlier in Quaternary time (beginning 2.6 million years ago), one of the major problems of modern Spain is the threat of desertification—i.e., the impoverishment of arid, semiarid, and even some humid ecosystems caused by the joint impact of human activities and drought. Nearly half of Spain is moderately or severely affected, especially in the arid east (Almería, Murcia), as well as in much of subarid Spain (the Ebro basin). The government has adopted policies of afforestation, but some authorities believe that natural vegetation regrowth would yield more speedy and more permanent benefits.



For most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Spain was a constitutional monarchy. After the abdication of King Alfonso XIII in 1931, the Second Republic was founded, which lasted until the start of the Civil War in 1936. In it, in 1939 defeated the troops of General Francisco Franco, who established a dictatorial regime that lasted until his death in 1975. During the military dictatorship, independent political parties and trade unions were banned and the official state party, the Spanish Falange, later renamed the National Movement, operated. Free elections were not held, and the unicameral parliament – the Cortes – had limited powers.
Public administration. After 1975, Spain was in a state of transition from authoritarianism to a modern European-style parliamentary monarchy. One component of this political system – the bureaucracy, the courts, the armed forces, the civil guard and the rural police – are inherited from the dictatorial regime. Another component includes the organizational and ideological remnants of the short-lived Second Republic and reflects the demographic changes, economic modernization, democratic political models of Europe. It is represented by parliamentary and electoral systems, political parties, trade unions and other public organizations and groups. Apparently, the monarchy, destroyed in 1931, when, under pressure from the Republicans, King Alphonse XIII abdicated. The republican form of government in 1939 was replaced by the dictatorial regime of Francisco Franco, which lasted until 1975. Franco’s successor was the grandson of Alfonso XIII, Prince Juan Carlos Bourbon y Bourbon (b. 1938). Franco was confident that the young prince, who had studied at all three of Spain’s military academies, as well as at the University of Madrid, would continue his policies and preserve the authoritarian system he had created. However, becoming at 1975 King of Spain, Juan Carlos embarked on the path of democratic change. According to the constitution, developed by representatives of the main political parties and approved in a referendum in 1978, Spain is a monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The unity of Spain is constitutionally secured, but some regional autonomy is allowed. The constitution gives legislative power to a bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales. Most of the powers belong to the lower house, the Congress of Deputies (350 members). The bills adopted by him must be submitted to the upper house – the Senate (256 members), but the Congress can override the veto of the Senate by a majority of votes. Deputies of Parliament and senators are elected for a term of 4 years – according to the majoritarian system, and the Congress – according to the proportional system. All citizens of the country who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote. The prime minister is nominated by the head of state, the king, and approved by a majority of members of parliament. The prime minister is usually the leader of the party with the majority of seats in the Congress of Deputies. To form a government, this party may enter into a coalition with other parties. The Congress of Deputies can express no confidence in the government and force it to resign, but the deputies must identify in advance the candidacy of the next prime minister. This procedure eliminates the frequent change of government.
Local government. Long before the establishment of the Franco regime, Spain already had experience of local and regional self-government. Under Franco, these rights were abolished and the central government exercised power at all levels. Since the restoration of democracy, local governments have been given significant powers. The Spanish Constitution proceeds from the indivisibility of the state, but at the same time guarantees the right to self-government to administrative divisions that have developed on the basis of national, regional and historical criteria. Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities, which have their own parliaments and governments and enjoy broad powers in the field of culture, health, education, and the economy. In several autonomous communities (Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia), the use of local languages ​​​​is legalized, in particular, television is broadcast in them. However, the Basques insist on more complete autonomy, and these demands are in some cases accompanied by armed clashes with the police and terrorist attacks. The 17 autonomous communities include the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, the remains of Spanish colonial possessions – the cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa – have the status of autonomy. The autonomous communities are divided into 50 provinces, each governed by its own council. From 1997 councils are subordinate to the governments of the autonomous communities. The highest municipal officials and deputies of local councils are directly elected. The members of the local council elect the mayor from among their ranks; usually the head of the majority party is appointed to this post. Municipal governments do not have the authority to collect taxes and are funded by the central government.
Political organizations. The national parties that survived the period of Franco’s dictatorship are the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the Spanish Communist Party (CPI). Their organizations survived underground and in exile, and many members of these parties were persecuted. The Francoist party Spanish Falange (later the “National Movement”) ceased to exist with the death of the dictator Franco, but some members of this organization are still involved in the political life of the country. In the last years of Franco’s life, Prime Minister Carlos Arias Navarro promised to legalize the activities of political organizations. The first of these was the Union of Democratic Center (UDC), created in 1976 led by Adolfo Suarez Gonzalez. That same year, King Juan Carlos appointed Suárez as prime minister. The Suarez government did not want to recognize the Communist Party, but nevertheless was forced to pass in 1977 the Law on the legalization of all political parties. After that, more than 200 parties were registered (as a result of the 1993 general elections, representatives of only 11 parties or coalitions entered the parliament, and 15 in the 1996 elections). After the first elections were held in 1977, the SDC became the leading party. It was a centre-right party that represented the middle class and included some of the politicians and officials of the Franco regime. The SDC also won the national elections in 1979, but in the 1982 elections he lost most of the seats in parliament, because he could not cope with the rapid growth of unemployment and terrorism. The coup attempt in February 1981 also weakened the position of the SDC. The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) was founded in 1879 and was a major party during the Second Republic, but was banned under Franco. After 1975 it grew rapidly under the leadership of Felipe González Marquez and became a social democratic party. The PSOE ranked second in terms of the number of votes in the elections 1977 and 1979 and won local elections in 1979 in major centers of the country, including Madrid and Barcelona. Having received an absolute majority of seats in both chambers of the Cortes, in 1982 the PSOE became the ruling party of Spain. She won elections in 1986, 1989, but in 1993 she had to enter into a coalition with the regional Catalan Convergence and Union party to form a government. The PSOE remained in the minority in the early parliamentary elections in March 1996. The People’s Party (NP; until 1989 – the People’s Alliance) occupies a conservative position. For many years it was led by the former Francoist minister Manuel Fraga Iribarne. After the transition of the leadership of the NP into the hands of José Maria Aznar, the authority of this party among the youth increased. At 1993 she received 141 (PSOE – 150), and in March 1996 – 156 seats (PSOE – 141) and became the ruling. Since the 1993 elections, the coalition of the United Left (OL), led by the Communists, has taken the third place in importance among the parties in Spain. In the 1993 elections, the OLs won 18 seats, and in the 1996 elections – 21 seats. The Communist Party of Spain (CPI), created in 1920, was underground for 52 years and was legalized in 1977. Since the late 1960s, it pursued a policy independent of the USSR. The KPI enjoys significant influence in the trade union confederation Workers’ Commissions, the largest in the country. Regional parties play an important role in Spain. The centre-right Catalan Convergence and Union Party (CIS) had in the middle of 1990s by the majority of seats in the Catalan Regional Assembly. In the national parliamentary elections of 1993 and 1996, she won a significant number of votes and became a coalition partner, first with the PSOE and then with the NP. In the Basque Country, where separatist sentiments have long been manifested, several influential parties were formed in the mid-1990s. The largest of these, the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (BNP), seeks autonomy through peaceful means. Eri Batasuna, or the Popular Unity Party, is allied with the illegal organization ETA (Basque Fatherland and Freedom), which calls for the creation of an independent Basque state, without denying the need for violent methods of struggle. Regional parties in Andalusia, Aragon, Galicia and the Canary Islands enjoy great influence.
Justice system. Law enforcement is a function of the Ministry of the Interior, which has a paramilitary civil guard and police for this purpose. In addition, there is a municipal police force that controls traffic and maintains local law and order. In accordance with the constitution, Spain has a system of independent courts. The emergency political courts that existed under Franco have been abolished. The jurisdiction of military courts in peacetime extends only to members of the armed forces. A special constitutional court, consisting of 12 judges appointed for a 12-year term, examines the conformity of normative acts with the country’s constitution. The highest court is the Supreme Court.
Foreign policy. During Franco’s dictatorship, Spain was isolated until 1950, when UN member states re-established diplomatic relations with Francoist Spain. In 1953, an agreement was signed to provide the United States with air and naval bases in Spain in exchange for American military and economic assistance. This agreement was updated and extended in 1963, 1970 and 1982. Since 1955 Spain has been a member of the UN. After World War II, Spain lost almost all of its colonies in Africa. At 1956 Spanish Morocco was transferred to Morocco, and in 1968 the small Spanish possessions of Rio Muni and Fernando Po became the independent state of Equatorial Guinea. In 1976, the Spanish Sahara was placed under the temporary administration of Morocco and Mauritania. After that, Spain had only the cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the Mediterranean coast of Africa. After Franco’s death, Spain sought to establish closer ties with the countries of Western Europe. Since 1982, Spain has been a member of NATO, since 1986 – in the EEC (now the EU), since 1989- to the European Monetary System (EMS). The Spanish government was one of the most active participants in the Maastricht Treaty (1992), which provided for the creation of a political, economic and monetary union in Europe. Spain also has close ties with Latin American countries. Traditionally, it maintains good relations with the Arab states. Relations with Great Britain are complicated due to the unresolved issue of the status of Gibraltar. In 1992, the Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, ​​and the World Exhibition was held in Seville in connection with the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. At 1993-1999 Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana led NATO.
Armed forces. In 1997, the total strength of the armed forces was 197.5 thousand people; including 108.8 thousand conscripts. 128.5 thousand people served in the ground forces, 39 thousand in the navy, and 30 thousand in the air force. The paramilitary civil guard numbered 75 thousand people. Until 2002, all men are required to serve in the military for a period of 9 months. In 1996, plans were made public for a gradual transition to a professional army, formed on a contract basis. December 1997, the full integration of Spain into NATO structures was completed.

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Vestnik KAFU – The political system of Spain

To the contents of the journal issue: Bulletin of KAFU №3 – 2005

Author: Larina M.V.

Spain stands out from other European countries.
Its position at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, the Christian world and the world of Islam,
the closed Mediterranean and the boundless Atlantic left an indelible mark on
all aspects of the country.

In ancient times, the territory of Spain was inhabited by Iberians, in 5-3
centuries BC. settled by the Celts. By the end of the 3rd century, most of the territory of Spain
was ruled by Carthage. By the end of the 1st century BC. Spain was conquered by Rome.
The state of the Visigoths (from the 2nd half of the 5th century AD) was liquidated by the Arabs,
captured almost the entire territory of Spain in 711-718 and created a number of
states. During the Reconquista (718-1492) the Spanish kingdoms of Aragon arose,
Castile and others. Since the dynastic union of Castile and Aragon in 1479,
Spain is a single state. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish colonial
empire (based on colonial conquests in America). From the middle of the 16th century
Spain’s economic decline began. In the wars with England 16-17 centuries. she lost
maritime dominance. At the beginning of the 18th century, the struggle of European dynasties for Spanish
throne led to the War of the Spanish Succession. In the 19th century there were 5
unfinished revolutions: in 1808-14, 1820-23, 1834-43, 1854-56 and 1868-74.

The result of these revolutions was a compromise
between conservatives and liberals, expressed in the approval of the constitutional
monarchy. Between 1810 and 1826 most of the Spanish
colonies in Latin America. In the 1890s most of the remaining colonies
passed to the United States (as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898) and Germany. IN
At the beginning of the 20th century, Spain participated in the colonial division of Morocco. In 1923
a military-monarchist dictatorship was established (until 1930 years). April 14, 1931
The monarchy was overthrown, which marked the beginning of the Spanish Revolution of 1931-39, in
during which, in January 1936, the Popular Front [CP of Spain,
Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (founded in 1879), etc.]. civil
the war (July 1936 – March 1939) ended with the establishment of the dictatorship of General
Franco. In 1947, Spain was declared a kingdom (the throne remained

The Francoist regime established itself in Spain as a result of
bloody, destructive civil war 1936-1939 about her tragic
the consequences for Spain are convincingly shown by the following figures: about 1 million people
died during the war; at least 500 thousand Spaniards were forced to leave
homeland, fleeing the revenge of the victors. According to a prominent Spanish
economist Roman Tamames, in 1939-1940. agricultural production
was only 21% of the pre-war level, and industrial – 31%. In 192 cities
and settlements, up to 60% of all buildings were destroyed, completely destroyed
250 thousand apartments, and another 250 thousand could not be used. country lost
almost half of the rolling stock of the railways, 30% of the ships of the merchant fleet,
more than 70% of cars. The incomes of the bulk of the working people at the end of 1939 dropped to
the level of 1900. It took the country more than 10 years to eliminate only the material
damage caused by the war.

Francoists brought down on their real and potential
opponents of the most severe terror. All supporters of the republic were banned
political parties such as the Spanish Communist Party (CPI),
Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), various republican
parties, leading trade union organizations. About 2 million Spaniards passed through the first
post-war years through prisons and concentration camps.

Until 1973, Franco headed all the
government, moreover, the ministers of his cabinets never spoke from their
name, but only as representatives of the head of state, who determined the line of their
behavior. Even the appointment in 1969 of Juan
Carlos, grandson of King Alfonso XIII, deposed by the revolution of 1931, successor
head of state, and in 1973 Admiral Carrero Blanco as prime minister, not
shook Franco’s absolute power.

The growing activity of the working class in the fight against Francoist
regime had a powerful impact on other sections of Spanish society.
A sharp conflict between the authorities and the student masses, which arose in the mid-1950s,
demanding a radical reform of the university trade union (CEU), gradually
growing, covered all the educational centers of the country and had a great political resonance,
both in the country and abroad. In the late 60s, an active participant
various opposition actions: meetings, demonstrations, round tables, etc.
becomes an intelligentsia.

Francoism was thus unable to suppress
gradually growing opposition from below. He failed to maintain the foundation
on which he tried to erect the building of “great Spain”.

Economic “boom” of the 60s and the first half of the 70s
further strengthened the position of the “new” bourgeoisie, but at the same time increased discontent
its certain part of the economic policy of the regime. It was under her pressure
late 50s, the regime was forced to abandon the policy of “autarky” and
regulated economy and move towards economic “liberalization”, which created more
more favorable conditions for Spanish business.

In the 60s, there were warring
groupings. At the same time, far-right elements of the phalanx repeatedly tried to
revive the National Movement. In May 1958 the principles of the phalanx were
proclaimed the fundamental principles of the state, but to regain
lost positions she failed. By the end of the 1960s, the National Movement,
torn apart by contradictions, has reached a dead end. All attempts to reform it on
principles of “apertourism”, that is, the creation within its framework of political associations,
which formally were supposed to lay the foundations of political pluralism, in
the case of Franco’s departure from the stage, failed. By the mid-1970s Francoism
almost completely lost the support of another of its most important pillars – the Catholic
churches. During the civil war and in subsequent years, the church was completely
shared the ideas of the crusade, blessing the regime and its policy of repression and
in every possible way demonstrating their close ties with him. The special place of the church in the Franco system
institutions was secured by signing with the Vatican in 1953 by concordat,
granted the Catholic religion exclusive prerogatives and rights,
“according to divine law and sacred canon law.”

However, as the opposition movement grows
the process of distancing the church from the regime began, which in the 60s covered both
the lower clergy, and the higher clergy, and culminating in a break
“renovationist” wing of the church with Francoism. This wing is not only open
criticized the policy of the regime, but also turned, by definition,
Spanish historian Javier Toussel, “preaching the gospel in a pure movement about
restoration of democratic freedoms.

A new approach of the opposition to the problems of the strategy of combating the Francoist
regime began to emerge only in the mid-1950s, when the Communist Party
called on all groups, both in the opposition camp and in the country of the “winners”,
regardless of their political and ideological beliefs, “put an end to
the split caused by the civil war; put an end to strife and hatred;
put an end to both the spirit of the “crusade” and the spirit of revenge … “and peaceful
way, without a new civil war and bloodshed, to put an end to the dictatorship.

This policy, called the policy
“national accord”, did not immediately find understanding and support from the opposition
and, moreover, those groups in the camp of Francoism who were dissatisfied with
various reasons by the existing regime, but did not want to ally with
“defeated”. However, gradually, as a result of growing opposition
movement, the inclusion of groups and trends in it, the opposition’s search for forms
cooperation and its attempts to develop a unified platform for the fight against dictatorship,
the spirit of the “crusade” began to fade into the past, and the idea of ​​”national accord”
and peaceful replacement of the regime penetrated wider and deeper into the consciousness of broad layers
Spanish people.

The idea of ​​liquidating the Franco regime by peaceful means on
basis of “national consensus” has received such wide support from various
layers of Spanish society, not only because it is tired of the cultivated
dictatorship of mutual hatred between the “winners” and the “losers”, but also
because the prospect of a new civil war with its bloody violence caused
fear that did not disappear both among the democratic and the sensible part
conservative circles. These two factors contributed greatly to
gradual creation of a new atmosphere in the country and the collapse of all attempts by the regime
keep the split of Spanish society into “winners” and “losers” as one
from the foundations of its continued existence.

The first serious step towards rapprochement between the opposition forces was
made in June 1962 at a meeting of representatives of the bourgeois parties and
socialists in Munich, which put forward 5 conditions for the transition of Spain from dictatorship to
democracy (creation of democratic instruments in the country, ensuring
effective guarantees of human rights, recognition of the rights of national groups,
ensuring trade union freedoms, the right to opposition). The Communist Party characterized
these items as meeting the “minimum requirements of all, without exception,
Spanish anti-fascist forces.

By the beginning of the 70s, the possibilities of Francoism to
maneuvering were sharply reduced, both because he reached a dead end, having lost
support and sympathy of a significant part of those forces that supported him
almost four decades, and because the opposition managed to overcome the existing
earlier there were contradictions within it and began to act as a united front.

Attempts of the regime that has begun to agonize by tightening
repression to save itself from collapse only added fuel to the fire of resistance.
The crisis of the regime began to grow especially rapidly from December 1973 after
assassination attempt on Prime Minister Admiral Carrero Blanco,
who saw his task in maintaining the inviolability of the existing order.
K. Arias Navarro, who replaced him in this post, tried to stabilize
situation, proclaiming a course for the implementation of partial reforms. In one of
of his speeches, he emphasized that “in the sense of implementing political
changes in the country can no longer be counted on by Franco.

Disagreements and contradictions in the ruling circles took
this time extremely sharp forms, creating an atmosphere of permanent
political crisis. The reforms promised by Arias Navarro never happened.
implemented, which further exacerbated the conflict between “evolutionists” and

The situation in the upper echelons of power,
was aggravated by powerful actions of the working class, students, Catholic
circles, intelligentsia, middle strata, who demanded genuine, not imaginary

Frankism as a political and ideological system
exhausted himself. It was rejected by both the ruling classes and the masses.
Everyone understood the need for change, even his most ardent fans. IN
in this atmosphere of general unrest, growing contradictions at the top and sharp
social conflicts November 20 1975, the 82-year-old dictator died. his funeral
celebrated with mass demonstrations in Madrid and other cities.

November 22, Prince Juan Carlos, who became the head
state, was crowned king of Spain under the name of Juan Carlos I.

Franco’s successor King Juan Carlos 1 did not need
breaking the old apparatus of power. From the very beginning, it was about reform, which
sympathized with many figures of the old regime.

The main danger to the process of democratization
came from the military and representatives of the repressive apparatus of Francoism, who
made it clear that they would not recognize its results if the parties that previously
operating underground – the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and
Communist Party of Spain (CPI). Mass transfer of figures of the old regime
on the side of these parties was, therefore, excluded not only for ideological
reasons, but also for reasons of political expediency. Therefore, the leading
the “centrist” Union of the Democratic Center became the force for democratization
(SDC) A. Suarez (appointed by the Prime Minister even before the “constituent
elections”) – a coalition of Christian Democrats, liberals and
social democrats. The PSOE and the KPI supported the process of democratization and abandoned
any action that could encourage the military to interfere in politics.

In the “constituent elections” in 1977 won
The FDC is the party with which most Spaniards associated the success of democratization. On
second place went to a relatively well-organized and unconditionally
supported the transition to democracy, the left-wing PSOE party. With such a schedule
political forces, the role of opposition to the process of democratization, of course,
to the party most closely associated with the former regime, and this party could be
only right in its ideological orientation.

An organization that once served as a pillar of the Francoist
regime, the Spanish traditionalist phalanxes of the national-syndicalist junta
resistance, actually ceased to exist during his lifetime
dictator. At the time of its creation, the Spanish “successor party”
The People’s Alliance (NA) was no less organizationally weak than the SDC. She
was a coalition of former Falangists, supporters of the Catholic
Opus Dei and numerous conservative groups whose leaders in
1976 – early 1977 tried to win the favor of the king. Only low
representativeness of the “centrist” and “left blocs”
forced the leaders of these groups, forgetting about ambitions and ideological
disagreements, unite among themselves.

Thus, the alignment of the political forces of Spain,
formed in 1977 (and confirmed in 1979), was initially characterized by
relatively low levels of representativeness of all “blocks”, which
was determined both by the preservation of the unity of the ruling SDC, and by the long
organizational experience of the left opposition parties. It can be assumed, that
this alignment could be preserved after the election results 1982, but only when
condition for a successful economic policy. In reality, the price
democratization and the economic reforms that accompanied it turned out to be prohibitively high
for a large number of Spaniards. The ruling SDC, having fallen into the “non-winning”
sector of inter-party competition, could no longer maintain its conditional
organizational unity. It broke up into several groups, and they all suffered
electoral defeat. The Spanish “center” has been preserved mainly in
the form of regional parties.

At the disposal of the Spanish voter seeking
“punish” the government, there were two possibilities: he could vote
either for the left or for the right opposition. The election results show that both
these opportunities were used, with the greatest relative success
achieved a “successor party” to NA, while absolute
the socialists were victorious. This outcome of the elections can be explained by the fact that,
voting against the government, the Spanish voters did not want to express
negative attitude towards the process of democratization as such. In this context, the opposition
but the democratic PSOE proved to be the ideal candidate.

The right, represented by the NA, were more oppositional,
than the socialists, but their commitment to democracy was not so obvious. At that
At the same time, NA had no significant competitors in the “right” part
political spectrum, and its leaders managed to gradually overcome the Francoist
image. The communists found themselves in an extremely unfavorable situation: to beat the PSOE
they could only at the expense of greater opposition to the economic
government policy, but the more critical, in this regard, individual
faction of the CPI, the more doubtful their commitment to democracy seemed. failure to
communists to resolve this dilemma turned into a split and an electoral collapse

Therefore, in the formation of the format of the Spanish party
system reveals the role of such factors as the results of the “constituent
elections” and the nature of the “successor party”. Constituent elections
determined the overall balance of political forces in the country, ensuring the leading
position of the organizationally unstable SDC and turning a cohesive PSOE,
acting as the main partner of the “centrists” in the process
democratization, into the main opposition party, which prevented the fragmentation
right bloc” and caused the collapse of the main left alternative to the socialists.

Spain – the last state of modern Europe,
where the fascist dictatorship existed for the longest time. This
the only country in which the ideology of fascism survived the Second World War,
and in which the authoritarian regime disappeared naturally through the death of

The year of Franco’s death (1975) marks
the democratic beginning of a modern, enlightened Spain. Freely elected
government under Adolfo Suarez and Felipe Gonzalez, and from 1996 under José
Maria Aznare, prudently and purposefully “opened” the country in
political and economic sense. Although accession to the EU and NATO did not
without dispute, today this decision is shared by the majority of Spaniards. There are many
examples of a real transition to democracy: the referendum
on the adoption of a new constitution, the guarantee of the rights of regional autonomy,
the introduction of the right to divorce, as well as the abolition of the death penalty.

Indicative of the changes that have taken place in
public life has become a pluralistic structure formerly centralized
states. Administratively, Spain is divided into 52 provinces.
grouped into 17 autonomous regions, which are largely
solve development issues on their own. Each region has its own parliament and
government. The members of the provincial municipalities are elected by the communities, and together with
regional parliaments send their representatives to the Senate of the National
Legislative Assembly in Madrid (Cortes; Cortes Generales). The second
The Chamber of the Cortes consists of deputies elected by direct popular vote.
voting. From 1982 to 1996 Spain’s ruling political party
remained the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol), led by
Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. After various troubles associated with
corruption and secret service, in the elections in 1996 for the first time won
conservative People’s Party (Partido Popular) led by José Maria Aznar,
which was a turning point in Spanish politics. Third in importance
again became the Union of Left Forces (IU Izquierda Unida).

Head of State representing
constitutional monarchy is King Juan Carlos I.
Prime Minister he approves the members of the cabinet. received from Franco
power by inheritance in the absolutist sense of the word, a representative of the Bourbon dynasty
already in the historic Throne Speech on 22 November 1975 put accents not at all
just as expected. He declared that he wanted to be “King of all Spaniards in
free and modern society.” The seriousness of his intentions is the king
confirmed six years later, when, by a bold order, he returned the rebels to the barracks