What’s the Type of Government in Spain?
Understanding the type of government in Spain requires a deep dive into the country’s history and sociopolitical context.
If you’re planning on relocating to Spain or venturing on a Spanish immersion trip, this topic is helpful to study ahead of time.
Getting a deeper understanding of the government in Spain is key to getting involved with locals and integrating into society, as well as for understanding current events.
Read this article for an educational history lesson with fun facts and a full breakdown of the Spanish form of government.
The Spanish Form of Government
Spain works as a monarquía constitucional democrática (democratic constitutional monarchy). This system works under a parlamento (parliament) called las Cortes Generales (general courts).
There’s a ruling monarca (monarch) that serves as the head of state and a primer ministro (prime minister) who acts as president and head of the national government in Spain.
History of the Government in Spain
The government in Spain came to be as a consequence of a historical period known as La Transición (the transition).
After brutal dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975, the government in Spain began a transition towards democracy. This period ended in 1982, and democracy became the norm for Spaniards.
A new constitution was established during this time, alongside the struggle to keep military rule away from power. The government created new democratic institutions and established regional political systems.
The king at the time was Juan Carlos de Borbón. He kept the country united as it transitioned to this new Spanish form of government.
King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 and was followed by his son, Felipe VI, as the new head of state. In 2018, Pedro Sánchez, from the Partido Socialista Obrero (Socialist Worker Party) was elected president.
How the Spanish Form of Government Works
Spain’s constitution divides the government into three poderes del estado (branches).
El poder ejecutivo is led by the president and other ministers. They lead the national government in Spain.
El legislativo consists of the Spanish congress and diputados (deputies). El senado (the senate) is also an important part of the legislative. They are in charge of discussing and approving laws in the constitution.
Spanish courts and judges are independent. There are local, regional, and national courts. The Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court) is the highest-ranking court in the government in Spain.
Autonomous Communities (Las comunidades autónomas)
Las comunidades autónomas (autonomous communities) define the Spanish form of government more than anything.
Spaniards are known for their nationalistic and regional pride. Many of these communities fight to preserve their heritage and dialects. In Catalonia, people have advocated for independence.
Spain has 17 autonomous communities divided into 8,000 municipalities. Each of these communities has its own parliament and their own legislative and executive branches.
The structures and forms of ruling vary across communities. This enables the local institutions to be decentralized from the national government in several instances.
Discover the Similarities and Differences Between Spanish Vs Catalan.
Monarchy and Prime Minister
The Spanish form of government mainly stands out for having a monarchy, something that is uncommon in Spanish-speaking countries, aside from when most of them were Spanish colonies.
Although the king is the head of state, his role is mostly symbolic. He calls for elections and may intervene when it comes to laws. He names and dismisses certain government functionaries. He even has the capacity to declare war on another nation.
The prime minister or president acts as a representative of the king. He names the vice president and other ministers in office. The Spanish form of government puts him in charge of all public policy.
Elections in Spain
General elections take place in Spain every four years. Sometimes it occurs earlier, namely if the parliament calls for a vote and censures the president. All Spaniards who are 18 or older have the right to vote and to be elected.
Spain’s political parties operate at the local, regional, and national levels. There are liberal-conservative, socialist, progressive leftist, and far-right nationalist groups.
The power to vote was reinstated in 1977 for Spanish citizens. Franco’s Spanish form of government had taken this right from the people before the transition to democracy.
Elections take place at the regional, local, and national levels, as well as elections for the European Union Parliament. This allows all EU citizens to vote in parliamentary elections every five years.
4 Interesting Facts About the Spanish Form of Government
- During Franco’s dictatorship, several cultural traits and heritage were suppressed. Many Spaniards fled the country and were prosecuted for rebelling against his dictatorship.
- The first in line to succeed King Felipe VI is his daughter and firstborn, Princess Leonor. (The king doesn’t have any sons.)
- The actual name of the country is “The Kingdom of Spain.” Nonetheless, the population elects its government through democratic elections.
- Catalan and Basque separatism have taken off in the past few years. Catalans even held a symbolic referendum, which brought political instability to the country.
Experience Spain as a Spanish Speaker
Did this lesson on the Spanish form of government spike your interest in discovering more about this fascinating country? A Spanish immersion trip is ideal for moving forward in your language studies. But people who learn Spanish in advance ensure smooth travels and the ability to move around on their own and meet locals.
Conversing with a native speaker is guaranteed to prepare you for Spanish immersion. Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy with our certified teachers from Guatemala. They’ll prepare you for this adventure with all sorts of Spanish vocabulary and idioms for you to blend in and meet new interesting people.
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