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1876 Spanish general election

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1876 Spanish general election

← 1873 20–23 January 1876 (Congress)
1–4 February 1876 (Senate)

28–31 January 1876 (Canary Islands)
15–18 February 1876 (Puerto Rico)
1879 →

All 391 seats in the Congress of Deputies and all 196 seats in the Senate
196 seats needed for a majority in the Congress of Deputies
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Antonio Cánovas del Castillo Práxedes Mateo Sagasta Alejandro Pidal y Mon
Party Conservative Constitutional Moderate
Leader since 1874 1872 1876
Leader's seat Madrid Zamora Villaviciosa
Last election 3 seats 7 seats 0 seats
Seats won 317 48 12
Seat change 314 41 12

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Cristino Martos Emilio Castelar
Party Radical PRDF
Leader since 1871 1876
Leader's seat Barcelona
Last election 20 seats 347 seats
Seats won 6 1
Seat change 14 346

Prime Minister before election

Antonio Cánovas del Castillo

Prime Minister after election

Antonio Cánovas del Castillo

The 1876 Spanish general election was held from Thursday, 20 January to Sunday, 23 January 1876 (for the Congress of Deputies) and from Tuesday, 1 February to Friday, 4 February 1876 (for the Senate), to elect the Constituent Restoration Cortes of the Kingdom of Spain. All 406 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as all 196 seats in the Senate. In the Canary Islands the election was held from 28 to 31 January, and in Puerto Rico it was held from 15 to 18 February.[1][2] On 5 April 1877, another election to the Senate was held.[3]

This was the first election to be held after the end of the First Spanish Republic in 1874. The Third Carlist War and the Ten Years' War were still unraveling at the time, meaning that elections were not held in some districts (namely, those in the Captaincy General of Cuba). The newly-founded Liberal Conservative Party of incumbent prime minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo won an overall majority of seats, paving the way for the adoption of the Spanish Constitution of 1876, which would mark the starting point of the Bourbon Restoration that would last until 1931.


Electoral system[edit]

The Spanish Cortes were envisaged as "co-legislative bodies", based on a nearly perfect bicameralism. Both the Congress of Deputies and the Senate had legislative, control and budgetary functions, sharing equal powers except for laws on contributions or public credit, where the Congress had preeminence.[4][5] Voting for the Cortes was on the basis of universal manhood suffrage, which comprised all national males over 21 years of age and in full enjoyment of their civil rights.[6]

For the 1876 election, the laws of the First Spanish Republic remained in force, including the provisions for both the Congress and Senate within the Spanish Constitution of 1869. As a result, the original electoral law of 1870 was applied, without including the changes introduced by the 1873 amendments.[2] The electorate consisted of 3,989,612 electors, about a 24.0% of the country population.[7]

For the Congress of Deputies, 391 seats were elected using the first-past-the-post method under a one-round system. Candidates winning a plurality in each constituency were elected. The provinces of Spain were divided into single-member districts, with each province entitled to one district per each 40,000 inhabitants or fraction greater than 20,000. The law also provided for by-elections to fill seats vacated throughout the legislature.[4][8]

For the Senate, 196 seats were indirectly elected, with electors voting for delegates instead of senators. Elected delegates—equivalent in number to one-sixth of the councillors in each municipal corporation—would then vote for senators using a write-in, two-round majority voting system, with each province being allocated four seats.[4][8]

Election date[edit]

The term of each House of the Cortes—the Congress and one-quarter of the Senate—expired three years from the date of their previous election, unless they were dissolved earlier. The Monarch had the prerogative to dissolve both Houses at any given time—either jointly or separately—and call a snap election.[4][8]


The pronunciamiento—a military coup—of Arsenio Martínez Campos on 29 December 1874 put an end to the First Spanish Republic and hastened the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in the figure of Alfonso XII, son of former Queen Isabel II. An interim government led by Cánovas del Castillo was confirmed by King Alfonso XII upon disembarking in Barcelona on 9 January 1875.


Congress of Deputies[edit]

Summary of the 20–23 January 1876[a] Congress of Deputies election results
Parties and alliances Popular vote Seats
Votes %
Liberal Conservative Party (Conservadores) 343
Liberal Conservative Party (PLC) 328
Unconditional Spanish Party (PIE) 15
Constitutional Party (Constitucionales) 37
Moderate Party (Moderados) 11
Radical Democratic Party (Radicales) 5
Parliamentary Centre (Centro) 4
Federal Democratic Republican Party (Federales) 1
Independents (Independientes) 5
Total 406
Votes cast / turnout
Registered voters
Fed. Republican


  1. ^ In the Canary Islands the election was held from 28 to 31 January, and in Puerto Rico it was held from 15 to 18 February.


  1. ^ "Historia política del siglo XIX. Elecciones y legislaturas. 34. Constituyentes de 1876". Spanish National Research Council (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Real decreto disponiendo que las Cortes de la Monarquía española se reúnan el 15 de Febrero, y señalando los días en que han de comenzar las elecciones de Senadores y de Diputados" (PDF). Gaceta de Madrid (in Spanish) (1). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado: 1–2. 1 January 1876.
  3. ^ "Real decreto disolviendo el actual Senado, y señalando el día 5 de Abril próximo para la elección de los Senadores que deben nombrar las Corporaciones del Estado y los mayores contribuyentes" (PDF). Gaceta de Madrid (in Spanish) (41). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado: 375. 10 February 1877.
  4. ^ a b c d Constitución Española de 1869 (PDF). Gaceta de Madrid (in Spanish). 6 June 1869. Retrieved 27 December 2016. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "El Senado en la historia constitucional española". Senate of Spain (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  6. ^ Carreras de Odriozola & Tafunell Sambola 2005, pp. 1077.
  7. ^ Caballero Domínguez, Margarita (1999). "El derecho de representación: sufragio y leyes electorales" (PDF). Ayer. 34: 56.
  8. ^ a b c Ley electoral de 1870 (PDF). Gaceta de Madrid (Electoral Law) (in Spanish). 20 August 1870. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Elecciones a Cortes. 20 de enero de 1876". Historia Electoral.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  10. ^ "Elecciones generales de 1876". National Library of Spain (in Spanish). El Globo. 7 February 1876. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Elecciones Generales de 1876.- Relación de los Diputados proclamados en los distritos, y número de votos que han obtenido" (PDF). Gaceta de Madrid (in Spanish) (36). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado: 293–294. 5 February 1876.
  12. ^ For Congress election results:
  13. ^ For Congress election results in the Canary Islands and Puerto Rico:
    • "Elección de diputados en Canarias". National Library of Spain (in Spanish). La Correspondencia de España. 7 February 1876. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
    • "Puerto-Rico". National Library of Spain (in Spanish). La Época. 27 February 1876. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
    • "Diputados Año 1876" (in Spanish). Diputados Provincia de Puerto Rico, España: 1809-1898. Retrieved 1 August 2022.


External links[edit]