Spanish Politics and Society

February 3, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science, Government
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Spanish Politics and Society Hispanic & European Studies Program Fall 2009 Raimundo Viejo Viñas Office 20.182 [email protected]

Institutions of Spanish Democracy, 1 Parliamentarism in Spain

Parliamentarism in Spain  Political systems can be presidential or parliamentarian  A presidential system is a form of government where an executive branch exists separately from the legislature. 

It has fewer ideological parties than parliamentarian systems

 A parlamentarian system is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the Parliament

Parliamentarism in Spain  Spanish contemporary democracy is a parliamentarian political system. The executive power (i.e. the King and the Government) is not independent from the Parliament.  The King’s constitutional functions are subordinated to the will of the Spanish nation represented in the Parliament  The Government and the Prime Minister depend on the support of the Parliament 

Every week there is a special session at the Parliament to control the executive’s activity

Parliamentarism in Spain  Democratic regimes can be classified in two different ideal types: majoritarian and “consociative” (Lijphardt)  Majoritarian or “Westminster” democracy is based on a “winner take all” principle  “Consociative” or consensus democracy is animated by a solid spirit of consensus  Spain can be situated in the middle of a majoritarian-consociative continuum. Spain’s democracy is defined as “the less majoritarian of the majoritarian regimes”

Parliamentarism in Spain  The distribution of power in the legislature depends on the type of democracy:  Majoritarian democracies tend to a one single chamber Parliament  There are some exceptions, like the British Parliament (the House of Lords is not a powerful chamber)

 Consociational democracies tend to a bicameral legislature

Parliamentarism in Spain  With a few exceptions, the second chamber of bicameral parliaments is subordinated to the first.

 The second chamber usually represents the territorial and/or cultural diversity of a country.  In fact, bicameral parliaments are the most common institutional form of the legislative power in multinational societies.

Parliamentarism in Spain  The Spanish parliament (Las Cortes Generales or Las Cortes) is a bicameral one  The first chamber is called Congreso, but it is popularly known as the Parlamento (which is incorrect from a scientific point of view). It has 350 seats.

 The second chamber is called Senado. It has 264 seats and it is a very controversial chamber.

Parliamentarism in Spain  The major political parties are represented in the Congreso de los Diputados. Elections take place (under ordinary conditions) once every four years  Political parties that obtain more than five seats in elections can form their own parliamentarian group. All other parties form a single parliamentarian group called grupo mixto.  Parliamentary groups: PSOE, PP, CiU, PNV, and ERC/IU/ICV (plus the grupo mixto).

 The comisiones parlamentarias organize the specialized work of the members of the Congreso

Parliamentarism in Spain  During the dictatorship, Franco awarded some old politicians with a seat in the Senado.  During the transition to democracy, members of the Senado (senadores) become elected representatives. The senadores are voted through open lists (one voter can chose candidates of different political parties)  At the present, the Senado is being reformed in order to better represent the territories (the so-called Comunidades Autónomas)

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