Composition of the Senate

Last updated on 19/07/2016


 

The Senate is currently made up of a total of 266 Senators, elected by means of a two-fold procedure:

Senators elected in constituencies

Section 69 of the Constitution and sections 161 and 165 of the Organic Local Government Act .

The majority of Senators are elected in provincial constituencies: each province elects four Senators. However, in the insular provinces, each island or group of islands is classed as an electoral constituency, with each of the larger islands (Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife) electing three Senators and the remaining islands (Ibiza-Formentera, Menorca, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma) electing one Senator. The populations of Ceuta and Melilla each choose two Senators.

Senators chosen by constituencies are elected by universal, free, equal, direct and secret suffrage. The electorate is made up of Spanish nationals over the age of 18 who have not been declared incapable. It is, therefore, a process of direct election such as that of the Congress of Deputies.

Each elector can cast up to three votes in provincial constituencies, two votes on the larger islands, Ceuta and Melilla, and one vote in the remaining islands. So, the effect of the electoral system used (except in Ceuta and Melilla and on the islands) is that, normally, the political power with the most votes in each constituency gains the majority of its seats.

Although candidates are grouped by political parties on the ballot paper, candidacies are individual for the purposes of voting and counting, so that the elector can vote for candidates from different political powers. It is, therefore, a different procedure to that of the closed party lists of the Congress of Deputies.

The requirements to stand as a candidate and be elected Senator are the same as those of the electors: Spanish national, of legal age and not having been declared legally incapable.

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Senators appointed by regional Parliaments

With regard to Senators appointed by regional Parliaments, there is one established for each Self-Governing Community and another for every one million inhabitants in their respective territory. Therefore, the number of Senators that make up this second group is variable. In fact, the number has increased in recent Legislatures as a consequence of the increase in population. The Permanent Deputation is the body responsible for adopting the agreement that establishes the number of Senators to be appointed by regional Parliaments, a decision which is taken for the new Legislature, once the House has been dissolved.

The appointment of Senators by regional Parliaments is carried out by means of indirect or second-degree election, in the sense that they are not elected by the population but rather by the elected representatives of the population (the members of said Parliaments). The only requirement made in the Constitution is to ensure adequate proportional representation, which means reserving, for each Parliamentary Group in the respective Parliament, the number of seats that is proportional to its size. Each Self-Governing Community regulates the election procedure in its Statute, Regional Act and/or Regulation of the House. Some Self-Governing Communities require or allow for elections to fall to members of their Parliament, with the consequence that the elected individual takes on a double mandate. Others, in contrast, exclude this requirement and allow people outside of the Parliament in question to be appointed as Senators. They are also usually required to be a resident of the Community making the appointment.

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