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SPANISH POLITIC AND TERRITORIAL

ORGANIZATION

A) POLITICAL ORGANIZATION AND INSTITUTIONS

The Spanish State Political Organisation is ruled by the Constitution of 1978. It collects the
rights and obligations of the citizens and rules the operation of the State and its institutions.

There is a wide range of freedom and rights, recognized by the Constitution. Among them, we
can find the following rights of life - equal rights, freedom of speech and association, property
and work.

Sovereignty resides in the Spanish population and emanates all of the powers. The
representatives of different political parties are elected by the population in a universal and
secret ballot.

Spanish State is a social, democratic and lawful State. It is formed as a parliamentary


monarchy, in which the King is the highest representation of the State. His functions are
limited to confirming laws and supreme leadership of the army. In Spain, it rules the principle
of division of powers. It is represented and exercised by different institutions:

• The Spanish Parliament performs the legislative power. It is formed by two houses of
representatives, the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. These are elected every four
years by a universal election. Their functions are to develop laws, approve State budget
and control the government.

• The government performs the executive power. Its institutions are a government
presidency, a vice presidency and several ministries. Their functions are to apply laws,
direct domestic and foreign policies and defend the State.

• Justice Courts perform judicial power. They are formed by independent judges who
ensure the compliance of the laws. The highest Justice Court is the Supreme Court, but
when it concerns Constitutional affairs the Constitutional Court rules.
B) TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION: CITY COUNCILS AND PROVINCES

Spanish State is a decentralized State in which power is distributed among territorial units
with self-government competences: councils, provinces and Autonomous communities.

• Councils are the basic territorial units of the State. They are composed of one or
more towns and the territories dependant of them, known as municipality or council.
The town hall is the governing body of the city council. It consists of the Mayor and
several Councillors who are elected by universal suffrage in the local elections. Their
functions are to service the council inhabitants such as garbage collection, paving
streets or care of public gardens.

• Provinces are territories composed of several council groups. They are governed
by the Deputation whose presidency is elected by the members that are elected by
the Councils. Their role is to ensure that the provincial interests are met, and that
they coordinate and cooperate with the councils.

EXERCISES

1.- Define Spanish State according to the Head of State, form of government, political regime ant territorial
power distribution.

2.- What are the differences between Constitutional Court and Supreme Court?

3.- Make a comparative square about Spanish political institutions (Parliament, Government and Justice
Courts), and about their composition and functions.
4.- Explain the difference between council and province. Give an example according to your residence
province and council.

C) TERRITORIAL ORGANIZATION: AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES

Autonomous communities had originated in the Constitution of 1978, where the indissoluble union of
Spanish nation is set and it is recognised and guaranteed the right for autonomy or self-government of its
nationalities and regions, as well as solidarity among them all.

Autonomic process, completed in 1995, led to the establishment of seventeen Autonomous communities and
two Autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla. Each Community has self-government capability, ruled by an
autonomy statute and has its own institutions. Central administration is represented in them by a
Government’s delegate.

• Autonomy statute is the fundamental law that allows the self-government of each community. It
contains its denomination, territorial limits, institutions and competences or assumed functions.
Competences are varied, such as economic, social, health, cultural and territorial organization.
However, certain competences are exclusive to the State, such as defence, international relations and
foreign trade.

• Autonomous communities institutions share the power in the following way:

♦ Autonomic Parliament has the legislative power. It is formed by representatives elected


every four years by a universal election, in the Autonomic elections.

♦ The Governing Council performs the executive power. Its institutions are a
government presidency elected by Autonomic parliament and several “Consejerias”
in charge of the different government areas.

♦ The High Court of Justice is the highest instance of judicial power.


EXERCISES:

5.- What is an Autonomous community? What is the law that rules the self-government of each Autonomous
community?

6.- Complete the comparative square about State and Autonomic institutions:

State institutions Autonomic institutions

Parliament:

composition,

functions and

election

Government:

composition,

functions and

election

Justice Courts:

composition,

functions and

election