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Dictionary of terms

General terms

Ibero-American Parliamentary Forum.

Inter-parliamentary cooperation forum for the Parliaments of the 22 Member States of the Ibero-American Community of Nations. It meets once a year prior to the Summit of Heads of State and Government in the host country of this Summit. It was set up in 2005 as a Parliamentary initiative. Its objectives include participating in the development and consolidation of the Ibero-American Community of Nations and establishing a framework for mutual cooperation.


Prerogative by virtue of which parliamentarians cannot be charged or brought to trial without the prior authorisation of the House which must be requested. Through this requirement, the House can ascertain, without judging the matter in depth - whether or not a crime has been committed - whether behind the accusation of a Senator or Deputy there is a hidden agenda of political persecution. To this end, a procedure is followed within the House, with the participation of the affected party, which culminates with the corresponding decision made via a secret ballot. This prerogative is not applied in the case of a flagrant crime.

Imperative mandate.

Model of political representation whereby a member of the assembly does not perform their functions independently but rather on the direct orders of their elector, be it an institution or person. The Spanish Constitution prohibits this action when it expressly indicates in section 67.2 that members of Parliament shall not be bound by an imperative mandate.
In the case of the Senate, there is a special procedure to exercise the right of petition, which must be presented in writing. It is strictly prohibited for a petition to be presented directly by means of a public manifestation. Once a petition has been submitted, it will be examined by the Petitions Committee. The report that must be issued for every ordinary period of sittings, which is subject to the consideration of the Senate Plenary Sitting, will state the decision made regarding each petition, indicating the authority to which it has been forwarded to be responded to. The responses received to petitions will be forwarded to the petitioners.
In the Senate, these committees can only be set up with the agreement of the Plenary Sitting, at the proposal of the Government of or 25 Senators who do not belong to the same Parliamentary Group.
In the Senate, this takes place immediately after the relevant Committee presents its findings. It encompasses one turn for and one against the bill as a whole, in addition to interventions from the Spokesperson of any Parliamentary Group wishing to speak. Subsequently, any veto motions and dissenting opinions will be debated, together with any amendments which have not been incorporated into the findings presented by the Committee.


Formal act whereby the Congress of Deputies, having heard a presentation of his or her programme for government, give their confidence to the candidate elected as President of the Government.

Incidental motion.

Question that can be raised during the course of any debate with a view to resolving doubts that arise when debating an initiative.


Regime established in electoral legislation, applicable to members of parliament, to guarantee their independence when performing their functions, by virtue of which certain professions or political positions cannot be held simultaneously to a parliamentary post. To this end, when being sworn in, members of parliament must make a statement of activities which is judged by the Committee responsible for incompatibilities. If any incompatibilities are observed, the affected party must choose between their seat and the condition or position that is the cause of the incompatibility. Furthermore, they are required to notify of any alteration in their situation during the Legislature.


Situation in which a person, on account of the positions or functions held, cannot stand as a candidate in the general elections. The causes for ineligibility are determined by electoral legislation. They can be general, applicable to all kinds of elections, or specific to certain elections; they can refer to the whole territorial scope of elections or only to certain constituencies or districts. In general, members of the Royal Family, for example, are ineligible, as are members of the Constitutional Court or members of the Armed Forces.

International Agreements.

Also known as international treaties, these are binding agreements between States and other entities with an international legal status. In some cases, these agreements must be authorised by Parliament (see "Authorisation of international treaties"), whereas in other cases it is sufficient for the Houses to be informed of their conclusions (section 94.2 of the Constitution).

International parliamentary assembly.

Inter-parliamentary cooperation forum made up of members of national parliaments, normally within an international organisation, which provides political impetus and supervises their executive bodies. See: “Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe”, “Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)”, “Parliamentary Assembly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)”, “Inter-Parliamentary Union" and Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly”.

International parliamentary conference.

Meeting, usually held periodically, for delegations of national Parliaments with the purpose of debating and make political statements regarding matters within their realm of competence.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (UIP).

International Organisation of Parliaments from Sovereign States created in 1889. This global forum for dialogue works to promote peace and cooperation among all peoples and to consolidate representative democracy, supporting the efforts of the United Nations, whose goals it shares, working in close collaboration with it. The webpage and publications of the IPU are a renowned source of information about parliamentary matters.


Initiative by virtue of which a parliamentarian raises a question with Government with a view to examining the Cabinet's policy in matters of general interest. The inclusion of interpellations on the agenda, having first consulted the Board of Spokespersons, will be carried out in accordance with a quota system for each Parliamentary Group.

Interpretation of the Standing Orders.

Power of the Speaker of the House to clarify any doubts regarding the House Standing Orders.

Interterritorial Compensation Fund.

Budgetary fund set out in section 158.2 of the Constitution with a view to correcting interterritorial economic imbalances between the different Self-Governing Communities and to make effective the principle of solidarity. This fund will be used to cover investment costs and will be disbursed by Parliament.


Each of the times a speaker makes use of having the floor during parliamentary debate.

Investigative Committee.

Committee created with a view to investigating any matter of public interest. It is regulated by section 76 of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Houses. Its conclusions are not binding for the Tribunals and will not affect judicial resolutions, although the findings of its investigations may be communicated to the Fiscal Ministry to take any corresponding action. Citizens have the Constitutional obligation to appear before these Committees if called to do so.


Prerogative enjoyed by parliamentarians whereby they cannot be held accountable for written and oral statements made during a parliamentary session or sitting, or for any votes they might cast in relation to the parliamentary decisions with which they are involved.