How Spain’s Government Works

The government in Spain is a constitutional monarchy that is based on the Spanish Constitution.  The government has three separate branches, the legislative, judicial and the Executive.  They have a hereditary monarchy and the current king is King Felipe VI, however the king has little to do with the running of the country that is done by the president or prime minister who heads the executive branch.

The Role of the King

King Felipe VI ascended the throne in 2014 replacing his father Juan Carlos II.  Spain had a monarchy until 1931 when Francisco Franco abolished the monarchy when he took power.  Franco restored the monarchy before his death in 1975 and shortly thereafter the Spanish Constitution was adopted.

The Role of the Prime Minister

The person elected to lead the government of Spain is referred to a El Presidente but they are not technically a President, the term is short for President del Gobierno de Espana, in English that is the President of the Government of Spain.  Their role is closer to that of the Prime Minister in England rather than the President of United States.

The Role of the Legislature

The legislative branch has two houses, the first is the Congress of Deputies and the other is the Senate.  The Congress has 350 members and the Senate has 266 members, they represent the 17 communities of Spain and the number of representatives varies by population.  It is their job to pass laws that run the country much like the house and senate in the American government.

The Autonomous Regions

Spain doesn’t really have a central government rather they have 17 autonomous regions and two autonomous cities they have control regarding what goes on in their own jurisdictions.  This makes the federal government of Spain relatively weak compared to most of its European counterparts.  Each jurisdiction even has its own executive and legislature.  Politically speaking Spain is deeply divided and that was worsened by the last financial crash where Spain had to implement deep cuts and unemployment sky rocketed.  Many of the autonomous regions are now seeking independence.

Catalonia Seeks Independence

Catalonia is one of the larger and more prosperous regions of Spain and 2017 saw the drive for independence leading to a referendum.  The public and leaders of Catalonia all supported the referendum, however the government of Spain did not and declared it illegal.  This led to riots and violence throughout the region.  Catalan did declare its independence, however parliament was dissolved and all of the seats in Catalan came up for re-election.

Spanish politics is complicated and deeply divided with 5 major political parties all vying for power.