Senate of Spain

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Senate of Spain

Senado de España
14th Senate of Spain
Coat of Arms of the Senate of Spain.svg
Type
Type
History
Founded1834 (disband 1923–1977)
1977 (reinstituted)
Leadership
Pilar Llop (PSOE)
since 3 December 2019
First Vice President
Cristina Narbona (PSOE)
since 21 May 2019
Second Vice President
Pío García-Escudero (PP)
since 21 May 2019
Majority leader
Ander Gil (PSOE)
since 21 May 2019
Minority leader
Ignacio Cosidó (PP)
since 21 May 2019
Structure
Seats265
Senado de Espana - XIV legislatura.svg
Political groups
Government (115)
  •      PSOE (113)
  •      Confederal Left group (2)
    •      UP (2)

Supported by (31)

Opposition (134)

  •      PP (97)
  •      Cs (9)
  •      Nationalist group (6)
  •      Mixed group (7)
    •      Vox (3)
    •      PRC (1)
    •      PAR (1)
    •      ASG (1)
    •      UPN (1)
Elections
Limited voting
Meeting place
Senado - sala de plenos.jpg
Palacio del Senado
Centro, Madrid
Kingdom of Spain
Website
senado.es

The Senate (Spanish : Senado) is the upper house of the Cortes Generales, which along with the Congress of Deputies—the lower chamber—comprises the Parliament of the Kingdom of Spain. The Senate meets in the Palace of the Senate in Madrid.

Contents

The composition of the Senate is established in Part III of the Spanish Constitution. The Senate is composed of senators, each of whom represents a province, an autonomous city or an autonomous community. Each mainland province, regardless of its population size, is equally represented by four senators; in the insular provinces, the big islands are represented by three senators and the minor islands are represented by a single senator. Likewise, the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla elect two senators each. This direct election results in the election of 208 senators by the citizens. In addition, the regional legislatures also designate their own representatives, one senator for each autonomous community and another for every million person, designating a total of 58 senators.

The Spanish Senate is constitutionally described as a territorial chamber. Its powers are similar to those of the Congress of Deputies. However, by virtue of its role as a territorial chamber, it is endowed with exceptional powers such as authorising the Government of the Nation to apply direct rule on a region or to dissolve city councils. The presiding officer of the Senate is the President of the Senate, who is elected by the members thereof.

History

The Senate was first established under the Royal Statute of 1834 approved by Queen Regent Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies under the denomination of House of Peers but it did not last long and in 1837, under the Constitution of that year, the upper house acquired the denomination of Senate.

It remained under the regimes of the constitutions of 1845, 1856, 1869 and 1876. It was composed, at that latter time, of three main categories: senators by their own right, senators for life and elected senators. This house, along with the Congress of Deputies, was suppressed after the coup of General Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923.

Only after the Spanish transition to democracy in 1977 was it re-established.

Role

The Spanish parliamentary system is bicameral but asymmetric. The Congress of Deputies has more independent functions, and it can also override most Senate measures. Only the Congress can grant or revoke confidence to the Prime Minister. In the ordinary lawmaking process, either house may be the initiator, and the Senate can amend hostilely or veto, the proposal then being sent back to the lower house, which can override these objections by an absolute majority vote. Organic laws, which govern basic civil rights and regional devolutions, need an absolute majority of both congress and senate to pass.

The process for constitutional amendments is slightly more tangled: the rule is to require a three fifths (60%) of both houses, but if the Senate does not achieve such a supermajority and a joint congress-senate committee fails to resolve the issues, the Congress may force the amendment through with a two-thirds vote as long as an absolute majority of the Senate was in favour.

On the other hand, the Senate has certain exclusive functions in the appointment of constitutional posts, such as judges of the Constitutional Court or the members of the General Council of the Judicial Power. The Senate is solely responsible for disciplining regional presidents (Section 155 of the Spanish Constitution). Only the Senate can suspend local governments (Local Regime Framework Act, Section 61. [1] ). It exercised this power in April 2006, dissolving the Marbella city council when most of its members were found to have engaged in corrupt practices. On Friday, October 26, 2017, the Senate voted 214 to 47 to invoke Section 155 of the Spanish Constitution over the region of Catalonia. This decision gave to prime minister Mariano Rajoy the power to remove the regional government and to dissolve the regional legislature, and rule directly from Madrid.

Senate reform has been a topic of discussion since the early days of Spanish democracy. One proposal would advance the federalization of Spain by remaking the Senate to represent the autonomous communities of Spain.

Organization

Senators form groups along party lines. Parties with fewer than ten senators form the Mixed Group. If the membership of an existing group falls below six during a session, it is merged into the Mixed Group at the next session. For example, Coalición Canaria lost its senate caucus in 2008 after electoral losses reduced its group from six to two. The Basque Nationalist Party, falling from seven to four, "borrowed" senators from the ruling Socialist Party to form their group; in exchange, they supported the election of socialist Javier Rojo as President of the Senate. The PNV group is again under threshold after returning the borrowed Socialists, and it faces dissolution after the current session.

Legally, 133 seats are required for an absolute majority, vacant seats notwithstanding.

Escudo de Espana (mazonado).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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Elections to the Senate

To date, senate elections have coincided with elections to the lower house, but the President of the Government (i.e., the Prime Minister) may legally advise the king to call elections for one house only, under Section 115 of the Spanish Constitution. While the Congress of Deputies is chosen by party list proportional representation, the members of the senate are chosen in two distinct ways: popular election by limited voting and appointment from regional legislatures.

Directly elected members

Most members of the senate (currently 208 of 266) are directly elected by the people. Each province elects four senators without regard to population. Insular provinces are treated specially. The larger islands of the Balearics (Baleares) and Canaries (Canarias)—Mallorca, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife—are assigned three seats each, and the smaller islands—Menorca, Ibiza–Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma—one each; Ceuta and Melilla are assigned two seats each. This allocation is heavily weighted in favor of small provinces; Madrid, with its 6.5 million people, and Soria, with 90,000 inhabitants, are each represented by four senators.

In non-insular constituencies, each party nominates three candidates. Candidates' names are organized in columns by party on a large (DIN A3 or larger) ochre-colored ballot called a sábana or bedsheet.

Each voter may mark up to three candidates' names, from any party. This is the only occasion when Spanish voters vote for individuals rather than a party list. Panachage is allowed, but typically voters cast all three votes for candidates of a single party. As a result, the four Senators are usually the three candidates from the most popular party and the first placed candidate from the next most popular.

Before 2011, a party could not choose the order of its candidates on the ballot paper; candidates were sorted alphabetically by surname. When a party did not get all three of its candidates elected, this arrangement favored candidates with surnames early in the alphabet. This was the case for 2nd placed parties in every province and for both parties in tight races when voters did not vote for three candidates of the same party (panachage).

Regional legislatures-appointed members

Section 69.5 of the Spanish Constitution empowers the legislative assembly of each autonomous community of Spain to appoint a senate delegation from its own ranks, with one Senator per one million citizens, rounded up. Demographic growth increased the combined size of the regional delegations from 51 to 56 in 2008 for the 9th term.

Conventionally, the proportions of the regional delegations mimic their legislative assemblies, as required in principle by Section 69.5 of the Constitution. However, Autonomous Communities have considerable leeway, and a motion to appoint the delegation often requires no more than a plurality. Two anomalous examples are:

Due to population growth, Andalusia, the Balearic and Canary Islands, Catalonia, and Madrid each gained a new senator in 2008. Andalusia was the last Autonomous Community to allocate its new seat; it rebuilt its entire delegation after its 2008 regional elections. The distribution after the 2015 election was:

Autonomous CommunityPopulation (2018)SenatorsSenator/pop.-ratioDistribution
Andalusia 8,384,4089931,601
13221
Aragon 1,308,7282654,364
11
Asturias 1,028,2442514,122
2
Balearic Islands 1,128,9082564,454
11
Basque Country 2,199,0883733,029
111
Canary Islands 2,127,6853709,228
111
Cantabria 580,2291580,229
1
Castile and León 2,409,1643803,055
21
Castilla–La Mancha 2,026,8073675,602
21
Catalonia 7,600,0658950,008
1222*
Extremadura 1,072,8632536,432
11
Galicia 2,701,7433900,581
12
La Rioja 315,6751315,675
1
Madrid 6,578,0797939,726
1222
Murcia 1,478,5092739,255
11
Navarre 647,5541647,554
*
Valencian Community 4,963,7035992,741
1211
Total46,551,45257816,692Source:

Composition

The last election was held on 28 April 2019. The composition of the 13th Senate is:

Parliamentary groupElectedApp.Total
People's Party Group in the Senate 551469
Citizens Group 5813
Basque Group in the Senate (EAJ/PNV) 819
Vacant033
Total20857265

Committees

Committee [2] Chair(s)Term
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food María Teresa Macías PSOE 2019–present
Foreign Affairs Antonio Gutiérrez Limones PSOE 2019–present
Ibero-American Affairs César Alejandro Mogo Zaro PSOE 2019–present
Science, Innovation and Universities Francisco Javier de Lucas Martín PSOE 2019–present
Constitutional Antonio Magdaleno Alegría PSOE 2019–present
International Cooperation for Development Elena Diego PSOE 2019–present
Culture and Sport Manuel Escarda Escarda PSOE 2019–present
Defence Pilar Llop Cuenca PSOE 2019–present
Rights of Families, Childhood and Adolescence María de los Ángeles Luna Morales PSOE 2019–present
Economy and Business Javier Garcinuño Rama PSOE 2019–present
Education and Vocational Training José Asensi Sabater PSOE 2019–present
Local Administrations Miguel Carmelo Dalmau Blanco PSOE 2019–present
Public Works José Fernández Blanco PSOE 2019–present
Civil Service Salvador Vidal Varela PSOE 2019–present
General on Autonomous Communities Joan Lerma Blasco PSOE 2019–present
Finance Cosme Bonet Bonet PSOE 2019–present
Equality Josefina Antonia Bueno Alonso PSOE 2019–present
Incompatibilities Julia María Liberal Liberal PSOE 2019–present
Industry, Trade and Tourism Marisa Bustinduy PSOE 2019–present
Home Affairs María Jesús Castro Mateos PSOE 2019–present
Justice Francisco Manuel Fajardo Palarea (PSOE) PSOE 2019–present
Nominations Manuel Cruz PSOE 2019–present
Rules
Comprehensive Disability Policies María Teresa Fernández Molina PSOE 2019–present
Petitions Micaela Navarro PSOE 2019–present
Budget José Antonio Monago PP 2019–present
Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare Modesto Pose Mesura PSOE 2019–present
Petitions by a Court Félix Ortega Fernández PSOE 2019–present
Labour, Migrations and Social Security Antonio Armando Ferrer PSOE 2019–present
Ecological Transition María Isabel Moreno Duque PSOE 2019–present

Presidents of the Senate of Spain

This is a list of the Presidents of the Senate since the recovery of the upper house in 1977. To see previous presidents, look the full list of presidents of the Senate.

PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Term of officeTenure
(Years and days)
PartyLegislature Monarch
(Reign)
Ref.
Antonio Fontan press freedom hero.JPG Antonio Fontán
President of the Senate
(1923–2010)
13 July 1977

2 January 1979
1 year, 173 days Union of the
Democratic Centre
Constituent
(1977)
Juan Carlos I
Juan Carlos I of Spain (2010) cropped.jpg
(1975–2014)
(Cecilio Valverde) Adolfo Suarez junto al vicepresidente primero y de Asuntos de Defensa, en el Congreso de los Diputados. Pool Moncloa. 1979 (cropped).jpeg Cecilio Valverde
President of the Senate
(1927–2001)
27 April 1979

31 August 1982
3 years, 126 days Union of the
Democratic Centre
I
(1979)
(Carvajal) Felipe Gonzalez junto al presidente del Senado y el presidente del Congreso (cropped).jpeg José Federico de Carvajal
President of the Senate
(1930–2015)
18 November 1982

2 September 1989
6 years, 349 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
II
(1982)
III
(1986)
Juan Jose Laborda 1992 (cropped).jpg Juan José Laborda
President of the Senate
(born 1947)
21 November 1989

9 January 1996
6 years, 49 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
IV
(1989)
V
(1993)
Juan Ignacio Barrero Valverde.jpg Juan Ignacio Barrero
President of the Senate
(born 1943)
27 March 1996

8 February 1999
2 years, 318 days People's Party VI
(1996)
Esperanza Aguirre 2004 (cropped).jpg Esperanza Aguirre
Countess consort of Murillo

President of the Senate
(born 1952)
8 February 1999

21 October 2002
3 years, 255 days People's Party
VII
(2000)
Juan Jose Lucas Jimenez junto a los integrantes de la Comision General de secretarios de Estado y subsecretarios. Pool Moncloa. 17 de octubre de 2001 (cropped) (cropped).jpeg Juan José Lucas
President of the Senate
(born 1944)
22 October 2002

20 January 2004
1 year, 90 days People's Party
(Javier Rojo) Fernandez de la Vega preside en el Senado la inauguracion del VII Congreso de la Asociacion de Constitucionalistas de Espana. Pool Moncloa. 22 de enero de 2009 (cropped).jpeg Javier Rojo
President of the Senate
(born 1949)
2 April 2004

27 September 2011
7 years, 178 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
VIII
(2004)
IX
(2008)
(Pio Garcia-Escudero) AACU4015 2018 (41536086810) (cropped).jpg Pío García-Escudero
4th Count of Badarán

President of the Senate
(born 1952)
13 December 2011

20 May 2019
7 years, 158 days People's Party X
(2011)
Felipe VI
(Felipe de Borbon) Inauguracion de FITUR 2018 (39840659951) (cropped).jpg
(2014–present)
XI
(2015)
XII
(2016)
Manuel Cruz 2013 (cropped).jpg Manuel Cruz
President of the Senate
(born 1951)
21 May 2019

2 December 2019
351 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
XIII
(2019)
Foto oficial de Pilar Llop.jpg Pilar Llop
President of the Senate
(born 1973)
3 December 2019

Incumbent
155 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
XIV
(2019)
Pilar LlopManuel CruzPío García-EscuderoFrancisco Javier Rojo GarcíaJuan José Lucas GiménezEsperanza Aguirre Gil de BiedmaJuan Ignacio Barrero ValverdeJuan José Laborda MartínJosé Federico de Carvajal PérezCecilio Valverde MazuelasAntonio FontánSenate of Spain

Notes

  1. ERC and EH Bildu abstained in the investiture vote of Pedro Sánchez. As part of an agreement with PSOE, the two parties are providing necessary votes (from the opposition) to keep the PSOE-UP government intact, in exchange for concessions.

Related Research Articles

1996 Spanish general election

The 1996 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 3 March 1996, to elect the 6th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as 208 of 257 seats in the Senate.

2004 Spanish general election

The 2004 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 14 March 2004, to elect the 8th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as 208 of 259 seats in the Senate.

1993 Spanish general election

The 1993 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 6 June 1993, to elect the 5th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as 208 of 256 seats in the Senate.

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There are four types of elections in Spain: general elections, elections to the legislatures of the autonomous communities, local elections and elections to the European Parliament. General elections and elections to the legislatures of the autonomous communities are called after the mandate of the national or regional legislature expires, usually four years after the last election, although early elections may occur. Elections to local councils and to the European Parliament are held on fixed dates but some local government bodies are not directly elected. For most elections party list PR is used, but the plurality system is used for the Senate.

1979 Spanish general election

The 1979 Spanish general election was held on Thursday, 1 March 1979, to elect the 1st Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as all 208 seats in the Senate.

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The 1977 Spanish general election was held on Wednesday, 15 June 1977, to elect the Spanish Cortes of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as all 207 seats in the Senate.

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2011 Canarian regional election

The 2011 Canarian regional election was held on Sunday, 22 May 2011, to elect the 8th Parliament of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands. All 60 seats in the Parliament were up for election. The election was held simultaneously with regional elections in twelve other autonomous communities and local elections all throughout Spain.

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The 1979 Spanish local elections were held on Tuesday, 3 April 1979, to elect all 67,505 councillors in the 7,870 municipalities of Spain and all 1,152 seats in 43 provincial deputations. The elections were held simultaneously with local elections in the four foral deputations of the Basque Country and Navarre and the ten island councils in the Balearic and Canary Islands.

1987 Spanish local elections

The 1987 Spanish local elections were held on Wednesday, 10 June 1987, to elect all 65,577 councillors in the 8,062 municipalities of Spain and all 1,028 seats in 38 provincial deputations. The elections were held simultaneously with regional elections in thirteen autonomous communities, as well as local elections in the three foral deputations of the Basque Country, the ten island councils in the Balearic and Canary Islands and the 1987 European Parliament election.

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1995 Spanish local elections municipal elections held in Spain in 1995

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The 2003 Spanish local elections were held on Sunday, 25 May 2003, to elect all 65,510 councillors in the 8,108 municipalities of Spain and all 1,036 seats in 38 provincial deputations. The elections were held simultaneously with regional elections in thirteen autonomous communities, as well as local elections in the three foral deputations of the Basque Country and the ten island councils in the Balearic and Canary Islands.

2003 Balearic regional election

The 2003 Balearic regional election was held on Sunday, 25 May 2003, to elect the 6th Parliament of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. All 59 seats in the Parliament were up for election. The election was held simultaneously with regional elections in twelve other autonomous communities and local elections all throughout Spain.

2007 Balearic regional election

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2019 Spanish local elections election

The 2019 Spanish local elections were held on Sunday, 26 May 2019, to elect all councillors in the municipalities of Spain and all seats in 38 provincial deputations. The elections were held simultaneously with regional elections in twelve autonomous communities, as well as local elections in the three foral deputations of the Basque Country, the ten island councils in the Balearic and Canary Islands and the 2019 European Parliament election.

2019 Canarian regional election

The 2019 Canarian regional election was held on Sunday, 26 May 2019, to elect the 10th Parliament of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands. All 70 seats in the Parliament were up for election. The election was held simultaneously with regional elections in eleven other autonomous communities and local elections all throughout Spain, as well as the 2019 European Parliament election.

References

  1. (in Spanish) Spanish Official Gazette: Local Regime Framework Act (Law 7/1985)
  2. Senate of Spain. "Senate' Committees Chairs". www.senado.es. Retrieved 30 July 2019.

Coordinates: 40°25′14″N3°42′46″W / 40.42056°N 3.71278°W / 40.42056; -3.71278