We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Spain: Electoral System
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Constitutional System > Electoral System


The electoral system -- with the exception of the Senate, which uses a majority system -- is set forth in the electoral law of 1977, updated in 1985, which is based on the d'Hondt system of proportional representation. A party must obtain a minimum of 3 percent of the vote in order to qualify for parliamentary representation. Each province is to have a minimum of two seats in the Congress of Deputies, plus one additional seat for every 144,500 inhabitants or fraction over 70,000 inhabitants. Each province is allotted four seats in the Senate, regardless of population.

This system tends to overrepresent the more traditional, rural, and thinly populated parts of Spain and to favor the larger parties, which also benefit from the system of postelectoral subsidies. Under this arrangement, the state allocates funds to the party of each elected candidate. Parties are also given smaller sums for each vote received by their candidates, provided that at least one candidate is elected. One of the effects of this system is that parties able to demonstrate probable electoral success are able to obtain loans to finance their campaigns based on their expected subsidies.

The electoral law guarantees universal, free, and direct suffrage and stipulates that voting shall be by secret ballot. It permits postal balloting for those away from their areas of registration. Voting is done by party list. Only the names of an individual party and its leader appear on ballots, with the exception of those of the Senate, for which a multiparty list is used, and voters choose any three candidates. Elections are held every four years, although an early dissolution of the Cortes will mean early elections for this body. Elections in the autonomous communities -- except those in the "historic regions" of Galicia, Catalonia (Spanish, Cataluna; Catalan, Catalunya), the Basque Country (Spanish, Pais Vasco; Basque, Euskadi), and Andalusia (Spanish, Andalucia), which received their autonomy earlier than the other thirteen communities -- are held simultaneously.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Spain was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Spain Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 117 of 183


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(€) Euro (EUR)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map