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 de facto chief executive.
|Prime Minister of Spain
Presidente del Gobierno de España
since 2 June 2018
|Government of Spain|
Office of the Prime Minister
(The Most Excellent)
|Member of||Council of Ministers|
|Reports to||Cortes Generales|
|Residence||Palacio de la Moncloa|
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Constituting instrument||Constitution of 1978|
|Formation||November 19, 1823|
|First holder||Francisco Martínez de la Rosa|
Adolfo Suárez (current Constitution)
|Deputy||Deputy Prime Minister of Spain|
The Spanish head of government has, since 1938, been known in Spanish as the Presidente del Gobierno – literally President of the Government but commonly translated outside of Spain as "Prime Minister", the usual term for the head of government in a parliamentary system. This distinction sometimes causes confusion among English-speakers; both President George W. Bush and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, referred to José María Aznar as "President" on separate occasions, and Donald Trump referred to Mariano Rajoy both as "President" and "Mr. President" during Rajoy's 2017 White House visit.
The custom to name the head of government as "President" dates back to the reign of Isabella II of Spain, specifically during the regency of Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies, when the official title was Presidente del Consejo de Ministros ("President of the Council of Ministers"), which remained until 1939, when the Second Spanish Republic ended. Before 1834 the figure was known as Secretario de Estado ("Secretary of State"), a denomination used today for junior ministers.
On 19 November, 1823, after a brief liberal democratic period called the Liberal Triennium between 1820 and 1823, King Ferdinand VII re-established the absolute monarchy and created the Council of Ministers that continues to exist today. This Council was chaired by the Secretary of State, who acted as Prime Minister. The Spanish Royal Statute of 1834 replaced the chair with a President of the Council of Ministers invested with executive powers.
During the nineteenth century, the position changed names frequently. After the Glorious Revolution of 1868, it was renamed President of the Provisional Revolutionary Joint and later President of the Provisional Government. In 1869, the office resumed the name of President of the Council of Ministers. Following the abdication of King Amadeus I, during the First Republic the office was the President of the Executive Power and was head of state. In 1874, the office name reverted to President of the Council of Ministers.
Since its inception, the Prime Minister has been appointed and dismissed by the will of the monarch. Successive constitutions have confirmed this royal prerogative of the monarch in the Constitution of 1837 (article 47), article 46 of the Constitution of 1845, the Constitution of 1869 (article 68), and the Constitution of 1876 (article 54).
With the fall of the republic and the restoration of the Bourbon Dynasty on King Alfonso XII, the office maintained its original name until the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, when it was renamed to President of the Military Directory. In 1925, the original name was restored again.
During the Second Republic the title was the same but when the Civil War started, on the side of the rebellion the head of government was called Chief of the Government of the State and since January 1938 the office acquired the current name, President of the Government, but between that date and 1973 the office was held by the dictator.
The Republican Constitution of 1931 provided for the Prime Minister and the rest of the government to be appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic but they were responsible before the Parliament and the Parliament could vote to dismiss the Prime Minister or a minister even against the will of the President of the Republic.
In 1973, the dictator separated the Head of the State from the Head of the Government and that division exists today, being the Prime Minister democratically elected by a Parliament elected by universal suffrage, free and equal.
Once a general election has been announced by the king, political parties designate their candidates to stand for Prime Minister —usually the party leader. A Prime Minister is dismissed from office the day after the election, but remains in office as a caretaker until his/her successor is sworn in.
Following every general election to the Cortes Generales (Cortes), and other circumstances provided for in the constitution, the king meets with and interviews the leaders of the parties represented in the Congress of Deputies, and then consults with the Speaker of the Congress of Deputies (officially, Presidente de Congreso de los Diputados de España, who, in this instance, represents the whole of the Cortes Generales and was himself elected from within the Congress to be the Speaker) before nominating a candidate for the presidency. This process is spelled out in Section 99 of Title IV. Often minor parties form part of a larger major party, and through that membership it can be said that the king fulfills his constitutional mandate of consulting with party representatives with Congressional representation.
Title IV Government and Administration Section 99(1) & (2)
- (1) After each renewal of the Congress and the other cases provided for under the Constitution, the King shall, after consultation with the representatives appointed by the political groups with parliamentary representation, and through the Speaker of the Congress, nominate for the Presidency of the Government.
- (2) The candidate nominated in accordance with the provisions of the foregoing subsection shall submit to the Congress the political program of the Government he or she intends to form and shall seek the confidence of the House.
Under the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the Prime Minister and the cabinet are responsible to the Congress of Deputies. Due to the need for the Prime Minister to command the confidence of the Congress, the monarch must nominate a candidate for the office after consulting the political groups with parliamentary representation. For this reason, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the Congress. For the Crown to nominate the political leader whose party controls the Congress can be seen as a royal endorsement of the democratic process— a fundamental concept enshrined in the 1978 Constitution.
By political custom established by Juan Carlos I since the ratification of the 1978 Constitution, the king's nominees have all been from parties who maintain a plurality of seats in the Congress. However, there is no legal requirement for this. In theory, the largest party could end up not ruling if rival parties gather into a majority, forming a coalition—though this has never happened at the national level. As political activity in Spain has effectively coalesced into a two-party system between the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and the People's Party, the two major parties usually adopt some aspects of the minor party platforms in an effort to attract them into parliamentary pacts to edge out their rival party in the event that no party is able to command an absolute majority of the Congress by themselves.
The monarch is normally able to announce his nominee on the day following a general election.
The monarch's order nominating a Prime Ministerial candidate is countersigned by the Speaker of the Congress, who then presents the nominee before the Congress of Deputies in a process known as a Congressional Investiture (Investidura parlamentaria). During the Investiture proceedings the nominee presents his political agenda in an Investiture Speech to be debated and submitted for a Vote of Confidence (Cuestión de confianza) by the Congress, effecting an indirect election of the head of government. A simple majority confirms the nominee and his program. At the moment of the vote, the confidence is awarded if the candidate receives a majority of votes in the first poll (currently 176 out of 350 MPs), but if the confidence is not awarded, a second vote is scheduled two days later in which a simple majority of votes cast (i.e., more "yes" than "no" votes) is required.
After the nominee is confirmed, the Speaker of the Congress formally reports to the king of the congressional confirmation. The king then appoints the candidate as the new Prime Minister. The king's order of appointment is countersigned by the Speaker. During the swearing-in ceremony presided over by the king, customarily at the Salón de Audiencias in the Zarzuela Palace, the Prime Minister-elect of the Government takes an oath of office over an open constitution and next to the Bible. The oath as taken by Prime Minister Zapatero on his first term in office on 17 April, 2004 was:
Juro/Prometo, por mi conciencia y honor, cumplir fielmente las obligaciones del cargo de Presidente del Gobierno con lealtad al Rey, guardar y hacer guardar la Constitución como norma fundamental del Estado, así como mantener el secreto de las deliberaciones del Consejo de Ministros.
In 2008, from the time the king nominated José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero for a second term as Prime Minister immediately following the 2008 general election, almost a month passed before Zapatero was able to present his Investiture Speech before the Congress and stand for a Vote of Confidence. If no overall majority was obtained on the first Vote of the Confidence, then the same nominee and program is resubmitted for a second vote within forty-eight hours. Following the second vote, if confidence by the Congress is still not reached, then the monarch again meets with political leaders and the Speaker, and submits a new nominee for a vote of confidence. If, within two months, no candidate has won the confidence of the Congress then the King dissolves the Cortes and calls for a new general election. The King's royal decree is countersigned by the Speaker of the Congress.
Once appointed, the Prime Minister forms his government whose ministers are appointed and removed by the King on the Prime Minister's advice. In the political life of Spain, the king would already be familiar with the various political leaders in a professional capacity, and perhaps less formally in a more social capacity, facilitating their meeting following a general election. Conversely, nominating the party leader whose party maintains a plurality and who are already familiar with their party manifesto facilitates a smoother nomination process. In the event of coalitions, the political leaders would customarily have met beforehand to hammer out a coalition agreement before their meeting with the King.
Government and the Cortes sit for a term no longer than four years when the Prime Minister tenders his resignation to the king and advises the king to dissolve the Cortes, prompting a general election. It remains within the king's prerogative to dissolve the Cortes if, at the conclusion of the four years, the Prime Minister has not asked for its dissolution, according to Title II Section 56. The king may call for earlier elections on the advice of the Prime Minister, known as a snap election, but no sooner than a year after the prior general election. Additionally, if the Government loses the confidence of the Cortes, then it must resign.
In the event that a Prime Minister resigns without advising the monarch to call for new elections, dies or becomes incapacitated while in office, then the government as a whole resigns and the process of royal nomination and appointment takes place. The deputy Prime Minister, or in the absence of such office the first minister by precedence, would then take over the day-to-day operations in the meantime as acting-prime minister, even while the deputy Prime Minister themselves may be nominated by the King and stand for a vote of confidence.
The Prime Minister's position is strengthened by constitutional limits on the Congress' right to withdraw confidence from the government. Following the German model, a Prime Minister can only be removed by a constructive vote of no confidence. While the Congress can censure the government at any time, the censure motion must also include the name of a prospective replacement for the incumbent Prime Minister. If the censure motion is successful, the replacement candidate is automatically deemed to have the confidence of the Congress, and the monarch is required to appoint him as the new Prime Minister.
Title IV of the Constitution defines the government and its responsibilities. The government consists of the President of the Government and ministers of state. The government conducts domestic and foreign policy, civil and military administration, and the defense of the nation all in the name of the king on behalf of the people. Additionally, the government exercises executive authority and statutory regulations.
There is no provision in the Spanish Constitution for explicitly granting any emergency powers to the government, which could be understood as exorcising the ghost of the recent dictatorship in Spain. However, Title II, Sections 56 of the constitution vests the monarch as the "arbitrator and moderator of the institutions" of government, [The King] arbitrates and moderates the regular functioning of the institutions (arbitra y modera el funcionamiento regular de las instituciones). This provision could be understood as allowing the king or his government ministers to exercise emergency authority in times of national crisis, such as when the king used his authority to back the government of the day and call for the military to abandon the 23-F coup attempt in 1981.
Adolfo Suárez was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the post-Franco government, the 149th Spanish Prime Minister since 1834. He was appointed by King Juan Carlos on 3 July, 1976. In the Spanish general election, 1977 his position as Prime Minister was confirmed by a vote.
Peerages in Spain are created by the Grace of the King, according to the Spanish Ministry of Justice, and are the highest marks of distinction that he may bestow in his capacity as the fons honorum in Spain. Conventionally, the Title of Concession creating the dignity must be countersigned by a government minister. When a title is created for a former president, the succeeding president customarily countersigns the royal decree. As a reward for national service, the king awarded peerages to two of his former presidents who have since retired from active politics: Adolfo Suárez was created 1st Duke of Suárez; and Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo was created 1st Marquis de la Ría de Ribadeo. Additional titles of nobility have been created by the king for other government ministers, usually at the advice of the president of the government.
As of 2005, the king has created forty hereditary titles of nobility.
As of March 2019, there are four living former Spanish Prime Ministers:
The most recent Prime Minister to die was Adolfo Suárez (served 1976–1981) on 23 March 2014, aged 81.
Alejandro Lerroux García (La Rambla, Córdoba, 4 March 1864 – Madrid, 25 June 1949) was a Spanish politician who was the leader of the Radical Republican Party during the Second Spanish Republic. He served as Prime Minister of Spain three times from 1933 to 1935 and held several cabinet posts as well.The word Lerrouxism (Spanish: Lerrouxismo, Catalan: Lerrouxisme) was coined after this politician's name. It was used to refer to a demagogic anti-Catalan discourse in Catalonia.Antonio González, 1st Marquess of Valdeterrazo
Don Antonio González y González, 1st Marquess of Valdeterrazo (5 January 1792 in Valencia del Mombuey, Spain – 30 November 1876 in Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish politician, diplomat and lawyer who served two times as Prime Minister of Spain in the reign of Isabella II, and was also President of the Congress of Deputies.Democratic and Social Centre (Spain)
Democratic and Social Centre (Spanish: Centro Democrático y Social, CDS) was a liberal political party in Spain, which was founded in 1982 by Adolfo Suárez, former Prime Minister of Spain. The party was a member of the Liberal Democratic and Reformist Group in the European Parliament and the Liberal International. In 2006, most of its remaining members merged into the People's Party.Deputy Prime Minister of Spain
The Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, officially Vice President of the Government, (Spanish: Vicepresidente del Gobierno de España) is the second in command to the Prime Minister of Spain, assuming its duties when the Prime Minister is absent or incapable of exercising power.
The person for the post is usually handpicked by the Prime Minister from the members of the Cabinet and appointed by the Monarch before whom it takes oath. When there are more than one Deputy Prime Minister, they are called First Deputy Prime Minister, Second Deputy Prime Minister, etc. The Headquarters of the Vice Presidency of the Government of Spain is the Semillas Building, in La Moncloa Complex.
Currently, the Spanish government has a sole Vice Presidency, holding this position Carmen Calvo since June 7, 2018. She is also the Presidency Minister. Carmen Calvo is the 21st Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and the fourth woman to assume this position.Eugenio Montero Ríos
Eugenio Montero Ríos (13 November 1832 Santiago de Compostela – 12 May 1914 Madrid) was a leading member of the Spanish Liberal Party before being part of a 1903 schism that divided it. He also served briefly as Prime Minister of Spain. He played a role in the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish–American War as he was then President of the Senate of Spain.Eusebio Bardají y Azara
Eusebio Bardají y Azara (Graus, Spain, 19 December 1776 – Huete, Spain, 7 March 1842) was a Spanish politician and diplomat who served as the Prime Minister of Spain in 1837 and held other offices such as Minister of State.Evaristo Pérez de Castro y Brito
Evaristo Pérez de Castro y Brito (Valladolid, ca. 1778 – Madrid, 28 November 1848) was a Spanish politician and diplomat who served as Prime Minister of Spain from 3 February 1839 to 18 July 1840, and held other important offices such as Minister of State.Francisco Javier de Istúriz y Montero
Francisco Javier de Istúriz y Montero (31 October 1790 in Cádiz – 2 April 1871 in Madrid) was a Spanish politician and diplomat who served as Prime Minister of Spain. He also served as the President of the Senate and President of the Congress of Deputies several times.Gabino Bugallal Araújo
Gabino Bugallal Araújo, 2nd Count of Bugallal (Ponteareas, 19 February 1861 – Paris, 30 June 1932) was a Spanish politician and Prime Minister of Spain in 1921.
Gabino Bugallal was a member of the Conservative Party in Spain.
He held several important political offices between 1905 and 1921, such as 3 times Minister of the Treasury, Minister of Education, Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Industry.
Between 8 March and 13 March 1921 he was Prime Minister of Spain after the murder of Eduardo Dato, until he was replaced by Manuel Allendesalazar y Muñoz de Salazar. He was finally Minister of Economy in 1931.José López Domínguez
José López Domínguez, (Marbella, 29 November 1829 – Madrid, 17 October 1911), was a Spanish military and politician who served as Prime Minister of Spain between 6 July and 30 November 1906.Leopoldo O'Donnell, 1st Duke of Tetuán
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Marcelo de Azcárraga Ugarte y Palmero-Versosa de Lizárraga (1 September 1832 – 30 May 1915) was a Spanish soldier-politician and thirteenth Prime Minister of Spain following the restoration of the Spanish monarchy. He served as Prime Minister in 1897, 1900–1901, and 1904–1905. Azcárraga was also the only Spanish Prime Minister of part Insulares descent specifically Filipino descent.Moncloa-Aravaca
Moncloa-Aravaca (also named Moncloa) is one of the 21 districts of the city of Madrid, Spain.
The Palace of Moncloa, located in the district, is the residence of the Prime Minister of Spain, and because of this in Spain "Moncloa" is sometimes used as a metonym for the central government, especially when contrasting with the governments of the autonomous communities.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.Práxedes Mateo Sagasta
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Ramón María Narváez y Campos, 1st Duke of Valencia, GE, KOGF, OCIII, OIC, OSH, LCSF, KOA, LH, (5 August 1800 – 23 April 1868) was a Spanish general and statesman who was Prime Minister of Spain on several occasions.Vicente Sancho y Cobertores
Vicente Sancho y Cobertores (1784 in Petrés, Spain – 1860 in Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish politician and militant who served as Prime Minister of Spain and Minister of State in 1840 during the reign of Queen Isabella II.Álvaro Gómez Becerra
Álvaro Gómez Becerra (Cáceres, 26 December 1771 – Madrid, 23 January 1855) was a Spanish politician and Prime Minister of Spain in 1843.
Álvaro Gómez Becerra was a member of the Progressive Party in Spain.
He held important political offices such as Minister of the Justice in 1835-1836 and 1840-1841.
Between 19 May and 30 July 1843 he was Prime Minister of Spain, until he was replaced by Joaquín María López.
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