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Spanish Institutions

The Crown. The political form of the Spanish state is that of a parliamentary monarchy. The king, in his capacity as the head of state, symbolises the unity and permanence of the state. He arbitrates and moderates in the regular running of institutions and acts as the highest representative of the Spanish state in international relations.

The Cortes Generales. The legislative authority of the State is exercised by the Spanish Parliament (Cortes Generales) which represents the Spanish people and controls the administration’s actions. It has two houses: the Congress of Representatives and the Senate. This is, therefore, what is known as an “imperfect bicameral” parliamentary system, because the powers of the two houses are not equal. Representatives and senators are elected for four years. It is possible for the Spanish Parliament to be dissolved ahead of time at the Spanish president’s request.

  • The Congress of Representatives has 350 members. Every draft and proposed law, without exception, must be studied first by this house. The Senate has the power to veto or amend the texts written by the Congress, which is then responsible for the final decision after studying it again. Likewise, it is Congress that confirms and confers powers upon the president, which means that this house can bring about his resignation by either passing a motion of censure or refusing a vote of confidence requested by the president’s administration.
  • The Senate was designed by the constitution as the house of territorial representation. In this 9th Legislature, this house has a total of 264 senators, of which 208 are elected by direct universal suffrage. The remaining 56 were appointed by the legislative assemblies of the Autonomous Regions, which are entitled to select one senator each, plus another for every one million inhabitants in their territories.

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