Spain flag Spain: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Spain

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Felipe VI (since 19 June 2014), hereditary
President of the Government and Prime Minister: Pedro Sanchez (since June 2018), Spanish Labour Socialist Party
Next Election Dates
Senate: July 2027
Congress of Deputies: July 2027
Current Political Context

After the Spanish general election on July 23, 2023, attempts to form a government were made, but none of the political parties secured an overall majority, thus the incumbent cabinet led by Pedro Sánchez remained in a caretaker role until the establishment of a new government. Despite the absence of a majority for both left-wing (formed by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and Sumar, with the support of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), EH Bildu, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), and the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) and right-wing blocs (comprising the People's Party (PP), Vox, the Navarrese People's Union (UPN), and Canarian Coalition (CCa), political tensions persisted for weeks. In a pivotal move, Sánchez endorsed an amnesty law for Catalan separatist politicians linked to the 2017–2018 Spanish constitutional crisis and the 2019–2020 Catalan protests. Eventually, on November 16, 2023, he successfully garnered support from Sumar, ERC, Junts, EH Bildu, PNV, BNG, and CCa, securing his re-election as prime minister with an absolute majority.
Spain's new government policies should align with established medium-term commitments outlined in the country’s national Recovery Plan and the latest Fiscal Stability Programme (2023-2026). Nevertheless, potential challenges may arise due to the escalating polarization in the political landscape and Sanchez's dependence on support from separatist parties to navigate future legislative measures through parliament.

Main Political Parties
In the autonomous regions, several parties form coalition governments to garner more power. The December 2015 elections put an end to the two-party system. The main parties/alliances in the last elections held in July 2023 were:

- Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE): centre-left, a democratic socialist party and the oldest party
- People’s Party (PP): centre-right, sometimes referred to as the 'popular party'. It is the second largest political party in Spain
- Sumar: political alliance whose main policies include economic equality, social justice, and democratic reform. It was formed, among others, of: the left-wing anti-austerity Unite Movement (Unidas Podemos); United Left (IU) which included several regional parties; the Communist Party of Spain (PCE); and other regional parties.
- Vox: right-wing, Spanish Nationalist party
- Ciudadanos (Citizens' party - C’s): centrist to centre-right, liberalism.

Other significant political forces include:

- Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya - ERC): centre-left, catalan independentism
- JxCat - JUNTS: a coalition of two Catalan nationalist parties: Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Units per Avançar (UA).
- EH Bildu (EHB): left-wing, Basque independentism
- Canarian Coalition (CCa): a Canarian nationalist party.

Executive Power
The King is the Head of the State and the commander-in-chief of the army; his role is mostly ceremonial. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the majority of the coalition is appointed Prime Minister by the Sovereign then elected by the parliament for a 4-year tenure. The Prime Minister is the head of the government. He is also called the Government. He holds executive power which includes the execution of the law and the management of the routine affairs of the country. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime minister. There is also a Council of State which enjoys the role of the supreme consulting body of the government, but its recommendations are not binding.

The President of each Autonomous Community is from the majority party of the majority coalition winning elections of the Parliaments of the Regions which take place every 4 years. The President forms a government whose «ministers» are appointed under the title «consejeros» and seconded by a cabinet and director generals, etc. who are in charge of each Department heading the sectors for which the Autonomous Community has jurisdiction in substitution of the Spanish State (single administration).

Legislative Power
The legislative power is bicameral. The Parliament, called Cortes Generales, is made up of:
- The Senate which has 265 seats. Its role is that of representing the territories (Autonomous Communities and Departments). 208 senators are elected by proportional representation for 4 years. 57 senators are elected by parliaments of the 17 autonomous communities;
- The Congress of Deputies which has a minimum of 300 seats and a maximum of 400 (currently 350). The deputies are elected by universal suffrage for 4 years from departmental constituencies. There are allotted one minimum representation and the remaining is proportional to their population. To avoid splitting up which is harmful to the stability of the Chamber, the D’Hondt system is applied.
The executive wing of the government depends directly or indirectly on the parliament's support, often expressed by a vote of confidence. The legislative power belongs to the government and the two houses of parliament at the same time. The Prime Minister does not have the authority to dissolve the parliament directly, but he can recommend its dissolution to the king. The Spanish citizens enjoy considerable political rights.
The 17 Autonomous Communities also have a legislative power exercised by their unicameral Parliament within the limit of jurisdictions fixed by each of their statutes.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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Latest Update: July 2024