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The Congress of Deputies ( es, link=no, Congreso de los Diputados) is the
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, We ...
of the
Cortes Generales The Cortes Generales (; en, Spanish Parliament, lit=General Courts) are the bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative ...
, Spain's
legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, rules, and Norm (sociology) ...
. The Congress meets in the
Palace of the Parliament The Palace of the Parliament ( ro, Palatul Parlamentului), also known as the Republic's House () or People's House (), is the seat of the Parliament of Romania, located atop Dealul Spirii in Bucharest Bucharest ( , ; ro, București ) is t ...

Palace of the Parliament
(') in
Madrid Madrid ( , ) is the capital and most populous city of Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_ ...

Madrid
. It has 350 members elected by
constituencies An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state Sta ...
(matching fifty
Spanish province
Spanish province
s and two autonomous cities) by
closed list Closed list describes the variant of party-list systems where voters can (effectively) only vote for political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is ...
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
using the
D'Hondt method The D'Hondt method, also called the Jefferson method or the greatest divisors method, is a method for allocating seats in parliaments among federal states A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by ...
. Deputies serve four-year terms. The presiding officer is the
President of the Congress of Deputies The president of the Congress of Deputies ( es, Presidente del Congreso de los Diputados) is the speaker Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech ...
, who is elected by the members thereof. It is the analogue to a speaker. In the Congress, MPs from the
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
, or groups of parties, form
parliamentary groups A parliamentary group, parliamentary party, or parliamentary caucus is a group consisting of members of the same political party or electoral fusion of parties in a legislative assembly such as a parliament or a city council. Parliamentary groups ...
. Groups must be formed by at least 15 deputies, but a group can also be formed with only five deputies if the parties got at least 5% of the nationwide vote, or 15% of the votes in the constituencies in which they ran. The deputies belonging to parties who cannot create their own parliamentary group form the Mixed Group. After the 2019 general election in April, the number of female deputies was up to 168 representing 48% of all members, making Spain the European country with the highest percentage of women in parliament; surpassing Sweden and Finland.


Constitutional position


House's nature


Composition

Section 68.1 of the
Spanish Constitution The Spanish Constitution (Spanish language, Spanish, Asturleonese language, Asturleonese, and gl, Constitución Española; eu, Espainiako Konstituzioa; ca, Constitució Espanyola; oc, Constitucion espanhòla) is the Democracy, democratic la ...
establishes that the Congress of Deputies must be composed of among 300 deputies at least and 400 deputies at most. At present, the house has 350 deputies which is determined by the ''General Electoral Regime Organic Act'', which was approved in 1985.


Electoral system

The
Spanish Constitution The Spanish Constitution (Spanish language, Spanish, Asturleonese language, Asturleonese, and gl, Constitución Española; eu, Espainiako Konstituzioa; ca, Constitució Espanyola; oc, Constitucion espanhòla) is the Democracy, democratic la ...
establishes that the deputies are chosen by
universal Universal is the adjective for universe. Universal may also refer to: Companies * NBCUniversal, a media and entertainment company ** Universal Animation Studios, an American Animation studio, and a subsidiary of NBCUniversal ** Universal TV, a te ...
, free,
equal Equal or equals may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Equals (film), ''Equals'' (film), a 2015 American science fiction film * Equals (game), ''Equals'' (game), a board game * The Equals, a British pop group formed in 1965 * "Equal", a 2016 song b ...
,
direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calc ...
and secret suffrage. The election is held every four years or before in case of
snap election Snap or SNAP may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Snap'' (film), the original release title for the 2013 film ''Enter the Dangerous Mind'' *''Snap'' (TV series), a CITV programme * ''Stanly News and Press'', a newspaper in Albemarle, North C ...
. The members of the Congress are elected by proportional representation with
closed list Closed list describes the variant of party-list systems where voters can (effectively) only vote for political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is ...
s in each constituency. There are 50 multi-member constituencies for the Congress of Deputies which belong to the 50
provinces of Spain Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , ima ...

provinces of Spain
and the two single-member constituencies which belong to two autonomous cities (
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ber, Sebta, script=Latn; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a on the north coast of . Bordered by , it lies along the boundary between the and the . It is one of the several Spanish territories in Africa and, along with and the ...

Ceuta
and
Melilla Melilla ( , ; ; ber, Mrich / Mlilt; ar, مليلية ) is an of located on the northwest coast of Africa, sharing with . It has an area of . One of two Spanish autonomous cities in mainland Africa together with , it was part of the until ...

Melilla
). According to the Spanish Electoral Act, each province shall be represented by at least two deputies, thus 102 deputies already apportioned. The remaining 248 deputies are allocated proportionally by constituency. This distribution can change in each election and it is specified when writs of election are issued. After the
General Election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
, seats are assigned to the electoral lists in each constituency using the
D'Hondt method The D'Hondt method, also called the Jefferson method or the greatest divisors method, is a method for allocating seats in parliaments among federal states A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by ...
in each constituency separately; parties receive seats in approximate proportion to the number of votes each received in the constituency. A strictly proportional system would result in fractional seats. The D'Hondt method resolves this by favoring parties receiving larger votes. The 1985 General Electoral Regime Act establishes a 3% minimum valid votes by constituency requirement (blank votes count towards the total votes, but invalid ballots do not count) for a party to participate in the seat distribution for a constituency. This applies to the provinces that elect at least 24 deputies. At present, this condition applies only to
Madrid Madrid ( , ) is the capital and most populous city of Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_ ...

Madrid
and
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within ci ...

Barcelona
. In March 2011, the General Electoral Regime Organic Act was remodeled, requiring parties that are not represented either in Congress or in the
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to collect signatures to support their candidacy to be able to run in the election. One-tenth of a percent of those registered to vote in a constituency are required to be on the ballot and each citizen can sign only once for a party candidacy. The Electoral Board establishes the regulations for collection of signatures.


Criticisms

With this system, the least populated provinces are overrepresented as the population is lower than other provinces which are still awarded one seat, than if the seats would be strictly distributed in proportion to the population of each province. Likewise, the most populated provinces are underrepresented. This system tends to favour the biggest political parties. Despite using a proportional representation system, the electoral system of the Congress of Deputies favours the creation of a
two-party system A two-party system is a Politics, political party system in which two major party, major political parties consistently dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature ...
. It is due to different reasons such as: * The large disparity of population between the provinces. Despite the smaller provinces being overrepresented, the number of deputies assigned to each one is small and tends to go to the two main parties. * The
election threshold The electoral threshold, or election threshold, is the minimum share of the primary vote which a candidate or political party requires to achieve before they become entitled to any representation in a legislature. This limit can operate in vario ...
of 3% only acts in the provinces which elect more than 30 deputies, that is
Madrid Madrid ( , ) is the capital and most populous city of Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_ ...

Madrid
and
Barcelona Barcelona ( , , ) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within ci ...

Barcelona
. In the rest of constituencies where fewer seats are distributed, the real barrier to enter to the Congress is meaningfully larger. For example, the barrier of the provinces which have 3 seats is 25%. * The average number of seats per constituency is one of the lowest in Europe. That is because of the use of provinces as constituencies. Consequently, the number of useless votes is huge, that is there is a significant number of votes which cannot affect the result because they have been cast for a political party which does not get representation in the constituency where votes have been cast. * The
D'Hondt method The D'Hondt method, also called the Jefferson method or the greatest divisors method, is a method for allocating seats in parliaments among federal states A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by ...
favours the biggest parties compared to other electoral formulas such as the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method or the
largest remainder method Large means of great size File:Comparison of planets and stars (sheet by sheet) (Oct 2014 update).png, A size comparison illustration comparing the sizes of various planets and stars. In each grouping after the first, the last object from the pre ...
. This effect is larger than in many countries because of the small number of seats per constituency. However, the influence of the D'Hondt method in the bipolarization of the electoral system is limited compared to the factors mentioned above. * The size of the Congress of Deputies is small (350 seats, compared to over 600 for e.g. the
German Bundestag The Bundestag (, "Federal Diet") is the German federal parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislature, legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (p ...
), which, together with the aforementioned factors, favours the biggest parties and disproportional distribution of seats, compared to national or multi-province regional election results.


Mandate

The deputies' term of office finishes four years after their election or when the Cortes are dissolved, which can take place jointly or separately with the dissolution of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
. The dissolution's right belongs to the
Monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...
who exercises it by request of the President of the Government after the deliberation of the
Council of MinistersThe Council of Ministers is a traditional name given to the supreme executive organ in some governments. The term is usually equivalent to the word " cabinet" ( Council of State is a similar term that also may refer to a Cabinet. However, the terms ...
and under its sole responsibility. The dissolution of the Cortes also takes place if there is a failed legislature or two months after a failed investiture session, in this case the
Sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
dissolves the house with the countersign of the
President of the Congress of Deputies The president of the Congress of Deputies ( es, Presidente del Congreso de los Diputados) is the speaker Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech ...
. During their mandate, the deputies have some guarantees and privileges to carry their responsibilities out according to Section 97 of the
Spanish Constitution The Spanish Constitution (Spanish language, Spanish, Asturleonese language, Asturleonese, and gl, Constitución Española; eu, Espainiako Konstituzioa; ca, Constitució Espanyola; oc, Constitucion espanhòla) is the Democracy, democratic la ...
.


Bodies of the Congress

Exercising the autonomy recognised by the
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
to the Congress of Deputies, the house is regulated by some internal rules established by itself in 1982 and it configures different government bodies to carry the pertinent competencies out.


Governing bodies

The governing bodies of the Congress of Deputies are the bodies which under their authority the House is manage. Those bodies are the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...
, the
Bureau
Bureau
and the
Board of Spokespersons
Board of Spokespersons
. The President of the Congress of Deputies is the highest authority and it represents the House and it is, de facto, the whole parliament leader. As head of the Congress, it also chairs the Bureau, the Board of Spokespersons and the Permanent Deputation, and is the maximum responsible authority of the Congress' Police. The Bureau of the Congress of Deputies is the collective body that represents the House and manages the day-to-day of the Chamber, preparing the budget and making all the necessary decisions to allow the proper functioning of the functions of the Congress. The Board of Spokespersons of the Congress of Deputies is the collective body formed by representatives of the parliamentary groups and normally, government representatives, that establishes the agenda of the House.


Working bodies

The working bodies of the Congress of Deputies are the Plenary, the Committees, the Permanent Deputation and the
Parliamentary Groups A parliamentary group, parliamentary party, or parliamentary caucus is a group consisting of members of the same political party or electoral fusion of parties in a legislative assembly such as a parliament or a city council. Parliamentary groups ...
. The Plenary is the central body of the Congress of Deputies which allows the house for exercising their choices. It is the reunion of all the members of the Parliament when half plus one of its members are attending the house. This body represents the unity of the house and it works through the plenary sessions which can be ordinary or extraordinary. The ordinary sessions take place during the two meeting terms: September to December and February to June. They are convened by a calendar which has already been set. The extraordinary sessions are convened at the request of the President of the Government, the Permanent Council or the absolute majority of the house. In this kind of sessions a particular agenda is presented and the sessions end when all items have been treated. The Committees are the basic working bodies of the Congress. They are composed of a proportional number of deputies depending on the numerical importance of the parliamentary groups of the house. The committees are classified as follows: permanent or non-permanent and legislative or non-legislative. The permanent legislative committees examine and rule the projects and bills. The Plenary of the Congress can confer them full legislative power in relation to a matter, so they can permanently approve or reject any project or bill. The regulations of the Congress establish 17 permanent legislative committees. The permanent non-legislative committees have responsibilities not related to the legislative production. The regulations of the Congress establish 3 permanent non-legislative committees, and they allow the Plenary to create another ones at the beginning of each legislature. The non-permanent committeesare created with a specific purpose and their themes and duration are beforehand determined by the Plenary of the Congress. The Permanent Deputation is a body created in order to have a permanent constituted legislative power. It is responsible for safeguarding the powers of the house between the legislative sessions (January, July and August) or when their term has finished because of termination or dissolution. In these three cases, the Permanent Deputation is a temporary extension of the house. The Permanent Deputation is presided by the
President of the Congress President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
. It is composed of a proportional number of deputies depending on the numerical importance of the different Parliamentary Groups. The Parliamentary Groups are groups of members of the house which join together depending on their ideology. The Rules of the Congress establish that 15 deputies at least are needed to make a parliamentary group. However, they can make a group if they are at least 5 deputies and they have got at least 15% of the total votes of the constituency where they have run at or 5% of the total votes of the country. The formation of the parliamentary groups takes place at the beginning of each legislature. The deputies who do not enrol in any parliamentary group constitute the
Mixed Group The mixed group ( it, Gruppo Misto, GM) is a parliamentary group active in both houses of the Italian Parliament The Italian Parliament ( it, Parlamento italiano) is the national parliament of the Italian Republic Italy ( it, Italia ), of ...
.


Composition of the XIV legislature

The XIV legislature of Spain started on 3 December 2019 when the
Cortes Generales The Cortes Generales (; en, Spanish Parliament, lit=General Courts) are the bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative ...
were constituted, once the 2019 general election was held.


Bureau of the Congress of Deputies


Committees

The Congress of Deputies creates at the beginning of each meeting a series of committees and subcommittees. These bodies purpose is to facilitate the work of the house. The committees have the same powers as the House' Plenary: to control the government by requesting information to the Administration or by requesting the appearance of any member of the Government or Administration; and to legislate by delegation of the plenary and at the request of the . The committees also debate the bills originated at the Plenary and the possible amends. According to the Spanish parliamentary system, in the Congress there are two type or subcommittees, the ordinary subcommittees which purpose is to discuss and make a report about a specific issue and the reporting subcommittees which purpose is to write a first bill proposal to be discussed in the committee. The committees can be standing committees, which creation is mandatory by the Congress' standing rules or other laws or non-standing committees, which are created by the Plenary. The subcommittees are also created by the Plenary at the request of the committees. The members of the committees are designated by the parliamentary groups, and once the committees are created they must elect in their first meeting the Bureau of the committee, composed by a chair, two deputy charis and two secretaries. The members of the subcommittees are designated by the committee.


Current Committees (XIV legislature, 2019–present)


Permanent Legislative Committees


Permanent non-Legislative Committees


Presidency of the Congress of Deputies

:


Congress of Deputies building

The building, , has a neoclassical style. It was designed by , and built between 1843 and 1850. It sits by the Carrera de San Jerónimo, in Madrid. The relief on the facade by sculptor centers on a sculpture of Spain embracing the constitutional state, represented by a woman with her arm around a young girl. Surrounding the pair are figures that represent in allegorical form Justice and Peace, Science, Agriculture, Fine Arts, Navigation, Industry, Commerce and so on. Ponzano also executed two bronze lions for the building's access stairway in a more realistic manner.


Notes


See also

* Bureaus of the Cortes Generales * Board of Spokespersons * * List of presidents of the Congress of Deputies of Spain *
Senate of Spain The Senate ( es, Senado) is the upper house of the Cortes Generales, which along with the Congress of Deputies – the Lower house, lower chamber – comprises the Parliament of the Kingdom of Spain. The Senate meets in the Palacio del Senado, Pal ...
* Political parties in Spain


References


External links

*
Official website
(Spanish) {{coord, 40, 24, 57, N, 3, 41, 48, W, source:kolossus-plwiki, display=title Cortes Generales
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...