Spain Politics and Law
According to the constitution of December 29, 1978, Spain is a parliamentary hereditary monarchy. As head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the king, who is mainly given representative powers, acts.
Representation and legislative body is the bicameral parliament, the Cortes Generales (Cortes), consisting of the House of Representatives (congreso de los diputados, between 300 and 400, currently 350 MPs elected for 4 years by proportional representation) and the Senate (senado, currently 262 senators, of which 208 directly elected for 4 years in the provinces, 54 appointed by the parliaments of the autonomous communities) as regional representatives.
The legislative initiative belongs to both chambers and the government. The Senate has a suspensive veto right against legislative decisions; there is also the possibility of a referendum. The King can dissolve Parliament early on the proposal of the Prime Minister.
The executive power lies with the government under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, who is elected by the House of Representatives with an absolute majority. The ministers are appointed by the king on the proposal of the head of government. A State Council exists as a consultative body.
The constitution contains detailed provisions on fundamental rights and is committed to the values of a social, democratic and free constitutional state; a state religion does not exist. Trade union organizations and the right to strike as well as the freedom of companies within the framework of the market economy are guaranteed. The death penalty has been abolished. The division of the national territory into 17 autonomous communities (Comunidades Autónomas), which are composed of individual homogeneous or neighboring provinces with historical, cultural and economic commonalities, and whose competencies are laid down in the »Estatutos de Autonomía«, which functions as basic laws, is constitutionally guaranteed. They have their own parliaments and governments.
The national flag was set after the re-establishment of the monarchy by the law of October 28, 1981. It is horizontally striped in the Spanish national colors red-yellow-red; the strips are in a ratio of 1: 2: 1 to each other. The national coat of arms is on the leech in the yellow stripe.
The coat of arms was made known by royal decree on December 18, 1981. It shows the traditional coats of arms of the historic Spanish heartlands in the quartered shield: the golden castle on a red background stands for Castile, the red armored lion on a silver background for León, the four red posts in gold (actually heraldic symbols of the county of Barcelona) symbolize Aragon and Catalonia, the golden “chain net” (a stylized chain mail) Navarre; in the tip grafted in at the bottom there is a to the former Moorish kingdom of Granada reminiscent pomegranate. The applied red bordered, blue heart shield shows the golden lilies of the ruling Spanish dynasty of the Bourbons. The Spanish royal crown is on the shield as a symbol of the form of government. The shield is flanked by two silver columns with golden capitals and feet on blue-silver waves (“Columns of Hercules”, the motto of Emperor Charles V); the heraldic right column bears the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire, the other the Spanish royal crown. A red ribbon with the motto »plus ultra« (even further, beyond) connects the columns and alludes to the journeys of C. Columbus.
On October 12th (Día de la Hispanidad) the discovery of America by Columbus (1492) is commemorated.
In addition to the parties that focus on national issues, there are a large number of regional parties that participate in the formation of political will at the state level (participation in the general elections for the Cortes). The two strongest parties are the conservative Partido Popular (PP, German “People’s Party”) and the social democratic Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE, German “Socialist Workers’ Party”). Other parties are Unidas Podemos (UP, German: “United we can do it”), which emerged from the left-wing protest movement in 2014, the right-wing liberal party Ciudadanos – Partido de la Ciudadanía (C’s, German “Party of Citizenship”; created in 2006) and the right-wing extremist party Vox (Latin for German »voice«; created in 2013).
The most important regional parties include the Convergéncia i Unió (CiU; German »Convergence and Union«; party union of center-right parties in Catalonia), the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PdeCAT; German »Catalan European Democratic Party«) and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, German »Republican Left Catalonia«), the Euzko Alderdi Jetzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco (EAJ-PNV, German »Basque Nationalist Party«), the Coalición Canaria (CC, German »Canarian Coalition«, a multi-party alliance) and the Bloque Nacional Galego (BNG, German »Galicischer Nationalistischer Block«). The Basque Herri Batasuna (HB, German »Einiges Volk«, political arm of ETA) was banned in 2003.
Two directions shaped the Spanish trade union movement that emerged in the last third of the 19th century up to the Frankist dictatorship: the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación National del Trabajo (CNT, founded 1910) and the socialist general workers’ union (Unión General de Trabajadores UGT, founded 1888). Visit themakeupexplorer for Trade Unions in Southern Europe.
After the trade unions were broken up, the Franco regime set up vertical state syndicates (Centrales Nacional-Sindicalistas, CNS), which forcibly recorded workers and entrepreneurs in 1940-76. Strikes were banned from now on. In addition, the communist workers’ commissions (Comisiones Obreras) developed in 1956 as a trade union opposition.
With democratization in the mid-1970s, state syndicates were replaced by free trade unions. In addition to regional associations such. E.g. the Basque Eusko Langileen Alkartasuna / Solidaridad de Trabajadores Vascos (ELA / STV, founded in 1911; 115,000 members), mainly the UGT (around 940,000 members in 2018) and the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO; 2018 around 934 000 members) with close contacts to the Social Democratic Party (PSOE).