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Senate of Spain

Coordinates: 40°25′14″N 3°42′46″W / 40.42056°N 3.71278°W / 40.42056; -3.71278
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Senate of Spain

Senado de España
Co-official languages
Basque: Espainiako Senatua
Catalan: Senat d'Espanya
Galician: Senado de España
Aranese: Senat d'Espanha
15th Senate of Spain
Coat of arms or logo
Founded1834 (disbanded 1923–1977)
1977 (reinstituted)
Pedro Rollán (PP)
since 17 August 2023
Javier Maroto (PP)
since 17 August 2023
Guillermo Fernández Vara (PSOE)
since 17 August 2023
Majority leader
Alicia García Rodríguez (PP)
since 30 November 2023
Minority leader
Juan Espadas (PSOE)
since 27 November 2023
Political groups
Government (93)
  •   PSOE (91)
  •   MM (1)
  •   EiFS (1)

Confidence and supply (24)

Opposition (149)

Limited voting (208 seats)
Election by the legislatures of the autonomous communities (57 seats)
Last election
23 July 2023
Meeting place
Palacio del Senado
Centro, Madrid
Kingdom of Spain
Senate Standing Orders

The Senate (Spanish: Senado) is the upper house of the Cortes Generales, which along with the Congress of Deputies – the lower chamber – comprises the Parliament of the Kingdom of Spain. The Senate meets in the Palace of the Senate in Madrid.

The composition of the Senate is established in Part III of the Spanish Constitution. Each senator represents a province, an autonomous city or an autonomous community. Each mainland province, regardless of its population size, is equally represented by four senators; in the insular provinces, the big islands are represented by three senators and the minor islands are represented by a single senator. Likewise, the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla elect two senators each. This direct election results in the election of 208 senators by the citizens. In addition, the regional legislatures also designate their own representatives, one senator for each autonomous community and another for every million residents, resulting in a total of 58 additional senators.

The Spanish Senate is constitutionally described as a territorial chamber. Consequently, although in general its powers are similar to those of the Congress of Deputies, it is endowed with exceptional powers such as authorising the Government to apply direct rule to a region or to dissolve local government councils. The presiding officer of the Senate is the president of the Senate, who is elected by the members at the first sitting after each national election.


The first Spanish Constitution, the Spanish Constitution of 1812, established a unicameral legislative, therefore, an upper Chamber did not exist.

The Senate was first established under the Royal Statute of 1834 approved by Queen Regent Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies under the denomination of House of Peers but it did not last long and in 1837, under the Constitution of that year, the upper house acquired the denomination of Senate.

It remained under the regimes of the constitutions of 1845, 1856, 1869 and 1876. It was composed, at that latter time, of three main categories: senators by their own right, senators for life and elected senators. This house, along with the Congress of Deputies, was suppressed after the coup of General Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923.

After the restoration of democracy during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939) the new regime opted for a unicameral system, which was continued under the Francoist dictatorship.

Only after the Spanish transition to democracy in 1977 was it re-established.


The Spanish parliamentary system is bicameral but asymmetric. The Congress of Deputies has more independent functions, and it can also override most Senate measures. Only the Congress can grant or revoke confidence in the Prime Minister.

Either house may propose an ordinary law (or bill, Spanish: proyecto de ley). A bill passed by Congress can be amended or vetoed by the Senate in which case the bill is then sent back to the lower house, which can override these objections by an absolute majority vote. Organic laws, which govern basic civil rights and regional devolution, need an absolute majority of both congress and senate to pass.

The process for constitutional amendments is more complicated: the rule is to require a three fifths (60%) of both houses, but if the Senate does not achieve such a supermajority and a joint congress-senate committee fails to resolve the issues, the Congress may force the amendment through with a two-thirds vote as long as an absolute majority of the Senate was in favour. But for some specific types of amendments including those related to most clauses related to human rights, both houses must approve of the amendment by a two thirds vote, and an election must be held and the amendment must pass by a two thirds vote a second time, and if that is approved, the people must vote for the amendment in a referendum by majority vote.

The Senate has certain exclusive functions including

Senate reform has been a topic of discussion since the early days of Spanish democracy. One proposal would advance the federalization of Spain by remaking the Senate to represent the autonomous communities of Spain.


Senators form groups along party lines. Parties with fewer than ten senators form the Mixed Group. If the membership of an existing group falls below six during a session, it is merged into the Mixed Group at the next session. For example, Coalición Canaria lost its senate caucus in 2008 after electoral losses reduced its group from six to two. The Basque Nationalist Party, falling from seven to four, "borrowed" senators from the ruling Socialist Party to form their group; in exchange, they supported the election of socialist Javier Rojo as President of the Senate.

Legally, 133 seats are required for an absolute majority, vacant seats notwithstanding.

Elections to the Senate[edit]

To date, senate elections have coincided with elections to the lower house, but the president of the Government (i.e., the prime minister) may legally advise the king to call elections for one house only, under Section 115 of the Spanish Constitution. While the Congress of Deputies is chosen by party list proportional representation, the members of the senate are chosen in two distinct ways: popular election by limited voting and appointment from regional legislatures.

Directly elected members[edit]

Most members of the senate (currently 208 of 266) are directly elected by the people. Each province elects four senators without regard to population. Insular provinces are treated specially. The larger islands of the Balearics (Baleares) and Canaries (Canarias)—Mallorca, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife—are assigned three seats each, and the smaller islands—Menorca, Ibiza–Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma—one each; Ceuta and Melilla are assigned two seats each.[3][4] This allocation is heavily weighted in favor of small provinces; Madrid, with its 6.5 million people, and Soria, with 90,000 inhabitants, are each represented by four senators.

In non-insular constituencies, each party nominates three candidates. Candidates' names are organized in columns by party on a large (DIN A3 or larger) ochre-colored ballot called a sábana or bedsheet.

Each voter may mark up to three candidates' names, from any party. This is the only occasion when Spanish voters vote for individuals rather than a party list. Panachage is allowed, but typically voters cast all three votes for candidates of a single party. As a result, the four senators are usually the three candidates from the most popular party and the first placed candidate from the next most popular.

Before 2011, a party could not choose the order of its candidates on the ballot paper; candidates were sorted alphabetically by surname. When a party did not get all three of its candidates elected, this arrangement favored candidates with surnames early in the alphabet. This was the case for 2nd placed parties in every province and for both parties in tight races when voters did not vote for three candidates of the same party (panachage).

Regional legislatures-appointed members[edit]

Section 69.5 of the Spanish Constitution empowers the legislative assembly of each autonomous community of Spain to appoint a senate delegation from its own ranks, with one senator per one million citizens, rounded up.[5] Demographic growth increased the combined size of the regional delegations from 51 to 57 since 1983.

Conventionally, the proportions of the regional delegations mimic their legislative assemblies, as required in principle by Section 69.5 of the Constitution. However, autonomous communities have considerable leeway, and a motion to appoint the delegation often requires no more than a plurality:

The distribution after the 2021 regional elections is:

Key to parties
  Vacant (*)
Autonomous Community Population (2018) Senators Senator/pop.-ratio Distribution
Andalusia 8,384,408 9 931,601
3 5 1
Aragon 1,308,728 2 654,364
1 1
Asturias 1,028,244 2 514,122
1 1
Balearic Islands 1,128,908 2 564,454
1 1
Basque Country 2,199,088 3 733,029
1 1 1
Canary Islands 2,127,685 3 709,228
1 1 1
Cantabria 580,229 1 580,229
Castile and León 2,409,164 3 803,055
1 2
Castilla–La Mancha 2,026,807 3 675,602
2 1
Catalonia 7,600,065 8 950,008
3 3 2
Extremadura 1,072,863 2 536,432
1 1
Galicia 2,701,743 3 900,581
1 2
La Rioja 315,675 1 315,675
Madrid 6,578,079 7 939,726
1 1 5
Murcia 1,478,509 2 739,255
1 1
Navarre 647,554 1 647,554
Valencian Community 5,057,353 6 842,892
1 2 2 1
Total 46,551,452 57 816,692 Source: [1]
  1. ^


The last election was held on 10 November 2019. The composition of the 14th Senate is:

Parliamentary group Elected App. Total
People's Party Group in the Senate 120 24 144
Basque Group in the Senate 4 1 5
Vacant 0 2 2
Total 208 58 266


Committee[6] Chair(s) Term
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food María Teresa Macías PSOE 2019–present
Foreign Affairs Antonio Gutiérrez Limones PSOE 2019–present
Ibero-American Affairs César Alejandro Mogo Zaro PSOE 2019–present
Science, Innovation and Universities Francisco Javier de Lucas Martín PSOE 2019–present
Constitutional Antonio Magdaleno Alegría PSOE 2019–present
International Cooperation for Development Elena Diego PSOE 2019–present
Culture and Sport Manuel Escarda Escarda PSOE 2019–present
Defence Pilar Llop Cuenca PSOE 2019–present
Rights of Families, Childhood and Adolescence María de los Ángeles Luna Morales PSOE 2019–present
Economy and Business Javier Garcinuño Rama PSOE 2019–present
Education and Vocational Training José Asensi Sabater PSOE 2019–present
Local Administrations Miguel Carmelo Dalmau Blanco PSOE 2019–present
Public Works José Fernández Blanco PSOE 2019–present
Civil Service Salvador Vidal Varela PSOE 2019–present
General on Autonomous Communities Joan Lerma Blasco PSOE 2019–present
Finance Cosme Bonet Bonet PSOE 2019–present
Equality Josefina Antonia Bueno Alonso PSOE 2019–present
Incompatibilities Julia María Liberal Liberal PSOE 2019–present
Industry, Trade and Tourism Marisa Bustinduy PSOE 2019–present
Home Affairs María Jesús Castro Mateos PSOE 2019–present
Justice Francisco Manuel Fajardo Palarea (PSOE) PSOE 2019–present
Nominations Manuel Cruz PSOE 2019–present
Comprehensive Disability Policies María Teresa Fernández Molina PSOE 2019–present
Petitions Micaela Navarro PSOE 2019–present
Budget José Antonio Monago PP 2019–present
Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare Modesto Pose Mesura PSOE 2019–present
Petitions by a Court Félix Ortega Fernández PSOE 2019–present
Labour, Migrations and Social Security Antonio Armando Ferrer PSOE 2019–present
Ecological Transition María Isabel Moreno Duque PSOE 2019–present

Presidents of the Senate of Spain[edit]

This is a list of the presidents of the Senate since the recovery of the upper house in 1977. To see previous presidents, look the full list of presidents of the Senate.

Portrait Name
Term of office Tenure
(Years and days)
Party Legislature Monarch
Antonio Fontán
President of the Senate
13 July 1977

2 January 1979
1 year, 173 days Union of the
Democratic Centre
Juan Carlos I

Cecilio Valverde
President of the Senate
27 April 1979

31 August 1982
3 years, 126 days Union of the
Democratic Centre
José Federico de Carvajal
President of the Senate
18 November 1982

2 September 1989
6 years, 349 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
Juan José Laborda
President of the Senate
(born 1947)
21 November 1989

9 January 1996
6 years, 49 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
Juan Ignacio Barrero
President of the Senate
(born 1943)
27 March 1996

8 February 1999
2 years, 318 days People's Party VI
Esperanza Aguirre
Countess consort of Murillo

President of the Senate
(born 1952)
8 February 1999

21 October 2002
3 years, 255 days People's Party
Juan José Lucas
President of the Senate
(born 1944)
22 October 2002

20 January 2004
1 year, 90 days People's Party
Javier Rojo
President of the Senate
(born 1949)
2 April 2004

27 September 2011
7 years, 178 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
Pío García-Escudero
4th Count of Badarán

President of the Senate
(born 1952)
13 December 2011

20 May 2019
7 years, 158 days People's Party X
Felipe VI

Manuel Cruz
President of the Senate
(born 1951)
21 May 2019

2 December 2019
195 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
Pilar Llop
President of the Senate
(born 1973)
3 December 2019

8 July 2021
1 year, 217 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
Ander Gil
President of the Senate
(born 1974)
12 July 2021

16 August 2023
2 years, 35 days Spanish Socialist
Workers' Party
Pedro Rollán
President of the Senate
(born 1974)
17 August 2023

310 days People's Party XV
Pedro RollánAnder GilPilar LlopManuel Cruz RodríguezPío García-EscuderoFrancisco Javier Rojo GarcíaJuan José Lucas GiménezEsperanza Aguirre Gil de BiedmaJuan Ignacio Barrero ValverdeJuan José Laborda MartínJosé Federico de Carvajal PérezCecilio Valverde MazuelasAntonio Fontán



  1. ^ Spanish Constitution 1978, Article 151.
  2. ^ Local Government Act 1985, Article 61.
  3. ^ The Spanish Consitution 1978, Part III.
  4. ^ Electoral Law 1985, pp. 19110–19134.
  5. ^ The Spanish Constitution 1978, Article 69(5).
  6. ^ Senate of Spain. "Senate' Committees Chairs". www.senado.es. Retrieved 30 July 2019.


External links[edit]

40°25′14″N 3°42′46″W / 40.42056°N 3.71278°W / 40.42056; -3.71278