The Congress of Deputies (Spanish: Congreso de los Diputados; Basque: Diputatuen Kongresua; Catalan: Congrés dels Diputats; Galician: Congreso dos Deputados) is the lower house of the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislative branch. It is located in the Palace of the Parliament (Palacio de las Cortes, Madrid).
It has 350 members elected by constituencies (matching fifty Spanish provinces and two autonomous cities) by proportional representation using the D'Hondt method. Deputies serve four-year terms. The President of the Congress of Deputies is the analogue to a speaker and presides over debates.
In the Congress, members of the Parliament from the political parties, or groups of parties, form parliamentary groups. Groups must be formed by at least 15 deputies, but a group can also be formed with only five deputies if the parties got at least 5% of the nationwide vote, or 15% of the votes in the constituencies in which they ran. The deputies belonging to parties who cannot create their own parliamentary group form the Mixed Group.. In June 2018, 41.72% of the deputies were women, being the third European country with more women in the lower house, after Sweden and Finland and same proportion as Norway.
Congress of Deputies
Congreso de los Diputados
|12th Congress of Deputies|
|Party-list proportional representation,|
|26 June 2016|
|28 April 2019|
|Palacio de las Cortes|
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Kingdom of Spain
The Spanish Constitution establishes in the Article 68.1 that the Congress of Deputies must be composed of among 300 deputies at least and 400 deputies at most. At present, the chamber has 350 deputies which is determined by the General Electoral Regime Organic Law, which was approved in 1985.
The Spanish Constitution establishes that the deputies are chosen by universal, free, equal, direct and secret suffrage. The Election is held every four years or before in case of snap election. The members of the Congress are elected by proportional representation with closed lists in each constituency, which means they are appointed by the political parties.
There are 52 multi-member constituencies for the Congress of Deputies which belong to the 50 provinces of Spain and the two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). According to the Spanish Electoral Law, each province must elect two deputies at least. The two autonomous cities can only elect one each. In this way, there are 102 deputies already apportioned. The other 248 deputies are allocated proportionally to the citizenships. This distribution can change a bit in each election and it is specified when writs are dropped. After the General Election, seats are assigned to the electoral lists in each constituency. For this distribution the D'Hondt method is used in each constituency separately. This distributes seats to parties in proportion to the number of votes each received in the constituency. A strictly proportional system would result in fractional seats. The D'Hondt method resolves this, in a manner that slightly favors larger parties. Moreover, there is an election threshold of 3%; that is to say, a political party needs at least 3% of the valid votes emitted in its constituency to aim for the seats' distribution.
The 5/1985 Organic Law, 19 June, of the General Electoral Regime establishes a 3% minimum valid votes in its constituency requirement (The blank votes count towards the total votes, but the invalid ballots do not count) in order to take a party into account in the seats' distribution in that constituency. The last item is only applied in the provinces which elect 24 deputies at least. At present, this condition is only fulfilled by Madrid and Barcelona.
In March 2011, the General Electoral Regime Organic Law was remodeled so that the parties which are not represented neither at the Congress nor at the Senate have to collect signatures to support the candidacy in order to be able to run in the election. 0.1% of signatures of the electoral register in each constituency are needed. Each citizen can only sign once for each candidacy. The Electoral Board will establish the details of the collection of signatures.
With this system, the least populated provinces are overrepresented as the population is lower than other provinces which are still awarded one seat, than if the seats would be strictly distributed in proportion to the population of each province. Likewise, the most populated provinces are underrepresented.
This system tends to favour the biggest political parties. In spite of using a proportional representation system, the electoral system of the Congress of Deputies favours the creation of a two-party system. It is due to different reasons such as:
The deputies' term of office finishes four years after their election or when the Courts are dissolved, which can take place jointly or separately with the dissolution of the Senate. The dissolution's right belongs to the King who exercises it by petition of the President of the Government after the deliberation of the Cabinet and under its sole responsibility. The dissolution of the Courts also takes place if there is a failed legislature or two months after a failed investiture session, in this case the King dissolves the chamber with the support of the President of the Government. During their mandate, the deputies have some guarantees and privileges in order to carry their responsibilities out according to the Article 97 of the Spanish Constitution.
Exercising the autonomy recognised by the Constitution to the Congress of Deputies, the chamber is regulated by some rules established by itself in 1982 and it configures different government bodies to carry the pertinent competencies out.
The working bodies of the Congress of Deputies are the Plenary, the Commissions, the Permanent Council and the Parliamentary Groups.
The Plenary is the central body of the Congress of Deputies which allows the chamber for exercising their choices. It is the reunion of all the members of the Parliament when half plus one of its members are attending the chamber. This body represents the unity of the chamber and it works through the plenary sessions which can be ordinary or extraordinary.
The ordinary sessions take place during the two meeting terms: September to December and February to June. They are convened by a calendar which has already been set. The extraordinary sessions are convened at the request of the President of the Government, the Permanent Council or the absolute majority of the chamber. In this kind of sessions a particular agenda is presented and the sessions end when all items have been treated.
The Commissions are the basic working bodies of the Congress. They are composed of a proportional number of deputies depending on the numerical importance of the parliamentary groups of the chamber. The commissions are classified as follows: permanent or non-permanent and legislative or non-legislative.
The permanent legislative commissions examine and rule the projects and bills. The Plenary of the Congress can confer them full legislative power in relation to a matter so they can permanently approve or reject any project or bill. The regulations of the Congress establish 17 permanent legislative commissions. The permanent non-legislative commissions have responsibilities not related to the legislative production. The regulations of the Congress establish 3 permanent non-legislative commissions and they allow the Plenary to create another ones at the beginning of each legislature. The non-permanent commissions are created with a specific purpose and their themes and duration are beforehand determined by the Plenary of the Congress.
The Permanent Council is a body created in order to have a permanent constituted legislative power. It is responsible for safeguarding the powers of the chamber between the legislative sessions (January, July and August) or when their term has finished because of termination or dissolution. In these three cases, the Permanent Council is a temporary extension of the chamber. The Permanent Council is presided by the President of the Congress (Mrs. Speaker). It is composed of a proportional number of deputies depending on the numerical importance of the different Parliamentary Groups.
The Parliamentary Groups are groups of members of the chamber which join together depending on their ideology. The Rules of the Congress establish that 15 deputies at least are needed to make a parliamentary group. However, they can make a group if they are at least 5 deputies and they have got at least 15% of the total votes of the constituency where they have run at or 5% of the total votes of the country. The formation of the parliamentary groups takes place at the beginning of each legislature. The deputies who do not enrol in any parliamentary group constitute the Mixed Group.
The building, Palacio de las Cortes, has a neoclassical style. It was designed by Narciso Pascual Colomer, and built between 1843 and 1850. It sits by the Carrera de San Jerónimo, in Madrid. The relief on the facade by sculptor Ponciano Ponzano centers on a sculpture of Spain embracing the constitutional state, represented by a woman with her arm around a young girl. Surrounding the pair are figures that represent in allegorical form Justice and Peace, Science, Agriculture, Fine Arts, Navigation, Industry, Commerce and so on. Ponzano also executed two bronze lions for the building's access stairway in a more realistic manner.
Adolfo Suárez González, 1st Duke of Suárez, GE, KOGF, OCIII (Spanish pronunciation: [aˈðolfo ˈswaɾeθ]; 25 September 1932 – 23 March 2014) was a Spanish lawyer and politician. Suárez was Spain's first democratically elected Prime Minister since the Second Spanish Republic and a key figure in the country's transition to democracy after the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
When Spain was still an autocratic regime, he was appointed Prime Minister by King Juan Carlos in 1976, hoping that his government could bring about democracy. At the time of his appointment, he was not a well-known figure, which made a lot of political forces sceptical about his government. However, he oversaw the end of the Francoist Cortes, and the legalisation of all political parties (including the Communist Party, a particularly difficult move). He led the Union of the Democratic Centre and won the 1977 general election. In 1981, he resigned and founded the party Centro Democrático y Social (CDS), which was elected to the Cortes numerous times. He retired from politics in 1991 and from public life in 2003, due to Alzheimer's disease.Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈfɾeðo ˈpeɾeθ ruβalˈkaβa]; born 28 July 1951) is a Spanish politician who was General Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) from 2012 to 2014. He served in the government of Spain as Minister of Education from 1992 to 1993 and as Minister of the Interior from 2006 to 2011; in addition, he was First Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2011. He holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the Complutense University of Madrid.Ana Pastor Julián
Ana María Pastor Julián (born 11 November 1957) is a Spanish politician for the People's Party who has been President of the Congress of Deputies since 19 July 2016. Previously she was Minister of Health from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of Public Works from 2011 to 2016.Ceuta (Congress of Deputies constituency)
Ceuta is one of the 52 constituencies (Spanish: circunscripciones) represented in the Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament, the Cortes Generales. The constituency currently elects one deputy using plurality voting. Its boundaries correspond to those of the autonomous city of Ceuta.Enrique Barón Crespo
Enrique Barόn Crespo (born 27 March 1944 in Madrid) is a Spanish politician, economist, and lawyer. He is a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and was a member of the European Parliament for the Party of European Socialists group until 2009.
Enrique Barón graduated in law from the University of Madrid and in business at the ESSEC Business School in Paris, in 1965. As a practising lawyer, he specialised in labour law, and acted for defendants in political cases (1970–1977).
He was a Deputy in the Cortes (1977–1987) representing Madrid region and was Minister of Transport, Tourism and Communications (1982–1985). In that period he proposed the dismantlement of lots of railway miles of secondary routes and main routes. Some of the reports used for that contained wrong data that lowered the economic results of these lines. 
After election to the European Parliament he was President of the European Parliament (1989–1992), and was PES Group chairman from 1999 to 2004. He was Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (1992–1995).
Barόn is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Global Panel Foundation and the Advisory Board of think tank Gold Mercury International, London, UK. He is an active player in Gold Mercury's Brand EU initiative to improve the management and promotion of the European Union brand and monitor its progress.Felipe González
Felipe González Márquez (Spanish pronunciation: [feˈlipe ɣonˈθaleθ ˈmaɾkeθ], born 5 March 1942) is a Spanish lawyer, professor, and politician, who was the Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) from 1974 to 1997, and the 3rd Prime Minister of Spain since the restoration of democracy, from 1982 to 1996. To date, he remains the longest-serving Prime Minister of Spain.
González joined the PSOE in 1964, when it was banned under the Francoist regime. He obtained a law degree from the University of Seville in 1965. In 1974, the PSOE elected González as its Secretary-General after a split in its 26th Congress. After Franco's death and the beginning of the Spanish transition to democracy, González obtained a seat in the Congress of Deputies after he led the PSOE candidacy in the 1977 general election, but lost to Adolfo Suárez.
After the PSOE victory in the 1982 general election, González formed his first majority government, backed by 202 out of the 350 deputies at the Congress of Deputies, and led the Government of Spain for thirteen and a half years after three additional victories in the 1986, 1989 and 1993 general elections. In 1996, González lost the election to José María Aznar and the People's Party and was elected to the Congress of Deputies for the last time in the 2000 general election, from Seville.Javier Solana
Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga, KOGF, KCMG (Spanish: [fɾanˈθisko xaˈβjeɾ soˈlana ðe maðaˈɾjaɣa]; born 14 July 1942), is a Spanish physicist and Socialist politician. After serving in the Spanish government as Foreign Affairs Minister under Felipe González (1992–1995) and as the Secretary General of NATO (1995–1999), he was appointed the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and Secretary-General of the Western European Union and held these posts from October 1999 until December 2009.Joaquín Almunia
Joaquín Almunia Amann (born 17 June 1948) is a Spanish politician and formerly, prominent member of the European Commission. During his tenure in the two Barroso Commissions, he was European commissioner responsible for economic and monetary affairs (2004-2009) and, subsequently, vice-president and the European Commissioner for Competition (2009-2014). Previously, he had been Spanish Minister for Employment (1982-1986) and Public Administrations (1986-1991). From 1997 to 2000, he was the leader of the opposition as secretary general of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, standing in and losing the 2000 Spanish general election against the then incumbent Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar.Josep Borrell
Josep Borrell Fontelles (born 1947) is a Spanish politician. A member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, he assumed office as Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation in June 2018.
He was the President of the European Parliament from 20 July 2004 until 16 January 2007.José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Spanish: [xoʂeˈlwiʂ roˈðɾiɣeθ θapaˈteɾo] (listen); born 4 August 1960) is a Spanish politician and member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). He was the Prime Minister of Spain being elected for two terms, in the 2004 and 2008 general elections. On 2 April 2011 he announced he would not stand for re-election in the 2011 general election and left office on 20 December 2011.
Among the main actions taken by the Zapatero administration were the withdrawal of Spanish troops from the Iraq war, the increase of Spanish troops in Afghanistan; the idea of an Alliance of Civilizations; the legalisation of same-sex marriage; reform of abortion law; a peace negotiation attempt with ETA; increase of tobacco restrictions; and the reform of various autonomous statutes, particularly the Statute of Catalonia.José María Aznar
José María Alfredo Aznar López (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse maˈɾi.a alˈfɾeðo aθˈnaɾ ˈlopeθ] (listen); born 25 February 1953) is a Spanish politician who served as the Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004. He led the People's Party (PP), the main conservative party in Spain.
In his youth, Aznar led the Syndicalist Student Front, a Falangist Roman Catholic organization. He obtained a law degree from the Complutense University of Madrid and his first job was in the public sector, specifically, as an Inspector of the Finances of the State (Spanish: Inspector de las Finanzas del Estado). He joined the Popular Alliance, which was re-founded as the People's Party in 1989. He led the Junta of Castile and León from 1987 to 1989 and was Leader of the Opposition at the national level from 1989 to 1996. In 1995, he survived an assassination attempt from the Basque separatist group ETA.
The People's Party, led by Aznar, won the most parliamentary seats at the 1996 general election, but he failed to obtain a majority in the Congress of Deputies, which forced the PP to seek the support of Basque (EAJ-PNV), Catalan (CiU and Canarian (CC) regionalists. He was finally invested Prime Minister on 4 May 1996, and his first term was marked by the market liberalization, deregulation of the economy, cut state expenses and privatized several state-owned companies. During his first term, the economy grew and Spain met the criteria to participate in the creation of the eurozone, but unemployment remained moderately high. Some relevant events in Aznar's first term were the assassination of PP politician Miguel Ángel Blanco by ETA. Aznar attempted to negotiate with ETA between 1998 and 1999, but the parties did not reach an agreement and violence continued.
Aznar also got the most votes in the 2000 general election this time obtaining an absolute majority of 183 deputies (out of 350) in the Congress. The economy kept growing and unemployment finally began to fall during his second term. In foreign policy, Spain adopted a neoconservative approach and grew closer ties with the United States and the Bush administration, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Aznar supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2002, he faced harsh criticisms for the actuation of the government during the Prestige oil spill in Galicia. Support of the PP further declined after the invasion of the Iraq, which was not supported by the majority of the Spanish population, but was nevertheless carried out with Spanish support for the U.S. and the UK. A 2003 poll found by the public research institute CIS found that 91% of Spaniards were against the invasion of Iraq..
In 2004, a general election in Spain was scheduled for 14 March, which was not contested by Aznar, but by his successor as lead of the PP, Mariano Rajoy. On 11 March, the 2004 Madrid train bombings occurred, which killed 192 people. The attacks were perpetrated by al-Qaeda, but the government claimed the bombings were perpetrated by ETA. In the few days between the bombings and the election, the PP defended this position: however, a major sector of the population rejected the hypothesis that the attacks were perpetrated by ETA and believed the government was lying because of the bombings' possible connection to Spanish support for the invasion of Iraq. This led to a massive drop in support for the PP in the days before the election, and the opposing PSOE's José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero won the election.
Aznar remains active in the private sector, and he sometimes gives his views on the politics of Spain. He was also a member of the Council of State from 2005 to 2006. He is the president of Spanish think tank FAES and is a director of News Corporation. He held the honorary (symbolic) presidency of the PP until 2016, when he renounced to the title.Mariano Rajoy
Mariano Rajoy Brey (Spanish: [raˈxoj]; born 27 March 1955) is a Spanish politician who served as Prime Minister of Spain from 2011 to 2018, when a vote of no confidence ousted his government. On 5 June 2018, he announced his resignation as People's Party leader.He became Leader of the People's Party in 2004 and Prime Minister in 2011 following the People's Party landslide victory in that year's general election becoming the sixth President of the Spanish Government. The party lost its majority in the 2015 general election, but after that election ended in deadlock, a second election in 2016 enabled Rajoy to be reelected Prime Minister as head of a minority government. Rajoy was a Minister under the José María Aznar administration, occupying different leading roles in different Ministries between 1996 and 2003, and he also was the Deputy Prime Minister between 2000 and 2003. He was the Leader of the Opposition between 2004 and 2011 under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government.
Rajoy's first term was heavily marked by the Spanish financial crisis and oversaw a major restructuring of the Spanish financial system as well as a major labour reform. The financial crisis peaked with a bailout of the Spanish banking system in June 2012. Unemployment in Spain peaked at 27% in 2012, which led to an initial drop of the People's Party in the polls, which was aggravated by the revelations of a series of corruption cases that seriously damaged the party's reputation. This, among other factors, led to a profound shift in the Spanish party system, with the rise of new political parties from the left and the right: Podemos and Citizens.
The 2015 general election led to a parliamentary configuration that made the formation of a government very difficult; as a result, Spain was without a government for over six months and new elections were held in June 2016. Rajoy was finally appointed Prime Minister with the votes of Citizens and the abstention of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party. Rajoy's second term has been marked by economic recovery and a drop in unemployment, but with growing issues of precariety and the challenge of stagnating salaries. Rajoy also oversaw the 2017–18 Spanish constitutional crisis marked by the Catalan independence referendum of 2017 and the Catalan unilateral declaration of independence on 27 October 2017 that has led to the imposition of direct rule in Catalonia.
At 14 years and 146 days, Rajoy is the longest-serving Spanish politician in the Government of Spain since the Spanish transition to democracy, having held ministerial offices continuously from 1996 to 2004 and from 2011 to 2018.Melilla (Congress of Deputies constituency)
Melilla is one of the 52 constituencies (Spanish: circunscripciones) represented in the Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament, the Cortes Generales. The constituency currently elects one deputy using plurality voting. Its boundaries correspond to those of the autonomous city of Melilla.Pedro Sánchez (politician)
Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón (Spanish: [ˈpeðɾo ˈsantʃeθ ˈpeɾeθ kasteˈxon], born 29 February 1972) is a Spanish economist and politician serving as Prime Minister of Spain since 2 June 2018. He is also Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), holding office for the second time after winning a leadership election in June 2017.
He served as town councillor in the City Council of Madrid from 2004 to 2009. In 2009, he was first elected Deputy in the Congress. In 2014, he became Secretary-General of the PSOE, and he was the party's candidate for prime minister in the 2015 and 2016 general elections. During his first term as Secretary-General, he was heavily opposed to the re-election of Rajoy as Prime Minister. Rajoy needed the abstention of the PSOE in the Congress of Deputies in order to secure a parliamentary majority. Tensions grew within the party that allowed Rajoy to form a government; due to its opposition by Sánchez, he stepped down as Secretary-General on 1 October 2016. He simultaneously resigned as Deputy, and a caretaker committee took over the PSOE leadership. He would eventually win the party primaries, defeating Susana Díaz and Patxi López, and was reinstated Secretary-General in June 2017. Under his tenure, the party backed the Government of Spain in its handling of the Catalan independence referendum and the subsequent constitutional crisis.
On 31 May 2018 the PSOE filed a no-confidence motion, which passed with the support of the PSOE, Unidos Podemos, and Basque, Valencian and Catalan regionalist and nationalist parties. On 1 June 2018, a Royal Decree named Pedro Sánchez Prime Minister of Spain and he was officially sworn into the office before King Felipe VI the day after.President of the Congress of Deputies
The President of the Congress of Deputies (Spanish: Presidente del Congreso de los Diputados) is the speaker of the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of Spain's Cortes Generales. The current office was established in 1978 by Article 72, Section 2 of the Spanish Constitution, which states in part, "The Chambers shall choose their respective Presidents...". However, the position has a tradition of more than 200 years, since its creation in 1810 as President of the Cortes of Cadiz.
The current president, of the XII Legislature, is Ana Pastor Julián, a member of the People's Party who was the incumbent Minister of Public Works, Houses and Transport, who represents the electoral district of Pontevedra.Prime Minister of Spain
The Prime Minister of Spain, officially the President of the Government of Spain (Spanish: Presidente del Gobierno de España), is the head of the government of Spain. The office was established in its current form by the Constitution of 1978 and originated in 1823 as a chairmanship of the extant Council of Ministers.
Upon a vacancy, the Spanish monarch nominates a presidency candidate for a vote of confidence by the Congress of Deputies of Spain, the lower house of the Cortes Generales (parliament). The process is a parliamentarian investiture by which the head of government is indirectly elected by the elected Congress of Deputies. In practice, the Prime Minister is almost always the leader of the largest party in the Congress. Since current constitutional practice in Spain calls for the King to act on the advice of his ministers, the Prime Minister is the country's chief executive.
Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) has been Prime Minister since 2 June, 2018, after a successful motion of no confidence against former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.Práxedes Mateo Sagasta
Práxedes Mariano Mateo Sagasta y Escolar (21 July 1825 – 5 January 1903) was a Spanish civil engineer and politician who served as Prime Minister on eight occasions between 1870 and 1902—always in charge of the Liberal Party—as part of the turno pacifico, alternating with the Conservative leader Antonio Cánovas. A Freemason, he was known for possessing an excellent oratorical talent.Rodrigo Rato
Rodrigo de Rato y Figaredo (born 18 March 1949) is a conservative Spanish politician and banker who served in the government of Spain as Minister of Economy and as a vice president from 1996 to 2004. He was managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2004 to 2007 and president of Bankia between 2010 and 2012.
Rato was arrested on 16 April 2015 for alleged fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. His case was still awaiting trial a year later when his name appeared in the Panama Papers. Despite his prior assurances that he did not own companies in tax havens, apparently he used two offshore companies to avoid taxes on millions of euros kept overseas. It has been alleged that he owes taxes to both the Spanish and Panamanian governments.On 23 February 2017, Rato was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to 4½ years' imprisonment. In September 2018, the sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Spain., entering in prison on 25 October 2018.Valencia (Congress of Deputies constituency)
Valencia (Valencian: València) is one of the 52 constituencies (Spanish: circunscripciones) represented in the Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament, the Cortes Generales. The constituency currently elects 16 deputies. Its boundaries correspond to those of the Spanish province of Valencia. The electoral system uses the D'Hondt method and a closed-list proportional representation, with a minimum threshold of 3 percent.