Ir al Contenido (Presione enter)

26 AUGUST 2019


Dictionary of terms

General terms

Parliament (Cortes Generales).

The Spanish parliament is a two-house system and is known as the Cortes Generales. The Spanish parliament represents the Spanish people and is made up of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies. Parliament exercises the legislative power of the State, approves its budgets, supervises the action of Government and any other competences and authorities attributed to it by the Constitution.

Parliamentary allowance.

Part of the remuneration package received by a member of parliament to compensate them for certain expenses incurred when performing their functions, including accommodation and living expenses.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Inter-parliamentary cooperation forum comprising parliamentarians from the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe, who meet to discuss and adopt resolutions pertaining, among other issues, to human rights and democracy.

Parliamentary Assembly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Inter-parliamentary cooperation forum comprising parliamentarians from the 28 member states of the North Atlantic Alliance, who meet to discuss and adopt resolutions about issues related with defence, security and cooperation.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Inter-parliamentary cooperation forum in which parliamentarians from the 56 member states of the OSCE take part, with the aim of strengthening democracy, preventing crises and managing the consequences of conflicts that arise within its area through dialogue and negotiation. It participates actively in the supervision of electoral processes.

Parliamentary autonomy.

Capacity of the Houses recognised by section 72.1 of the Spanish Constitution to decide their own rules of operation (normative autonomy), their funding model and their budgets (financial autonomy), their governing bodies and their administrative apparatus (organisational and functional autonomy).

Parliamentary Civil Servants.

See "Parliamentary Civil Service Staff”.

Parliamentary Civil Service Staff.

Parliamentary staff who, by virtue of their legal appointment, are incorporated into the Parliament permanently, by means of a statutory relationship of professional services and remunerated from the Parliamentary budget. They provide their services to the Congress of Deputies, the Senate or the Central Electoral Board, by performing the tasks contained in the corresponding functional diagrams. Currently, the following Parliamentary Civil Service units are in existence: Counsellors, Archivists-Librarians, Advisers, Editors, Shorthand Clerks and Stenotypists, Technical Administrators, Administrators and Ushers.

Parliamentary courtesy.

Series of unwritten rules of decorum which members must abide by as a sign of respect towards other members, the House and citizens.

Parliamentary delegation.

Member or members designated by the bodies of the Houses or Parliamentary Groups with a view to participating in international bilateral or multilateral parliamentary relations.

Parliamentary diplomacy.

Activity carried out by Parliaments in the international arena with a view to complementing the foreign policy pursued by Governments.

Parliamentary discipline.

Measures taken by the Speaker of the House with a view to maintaining order in debates and in meeting rooms. To this end, depending on the gravity of the action, the Speaker may make calls to order or to point, prohibit a member from attending a meeting, and even agree to suspend the member from parliamentary duties, in accordance with the terms outlined in the House Standing Orders.

Parliamentary Group.

Group of members of parliament defined by their political affiliation. They are constituted in the Houses at the start of each Legislature. In the case of the Senate, each Parliamentary Group will be composed of at least ten Senators. No Senator may be a member of more than one Parliamentary Group. Senators who have stood for election as part of the same party, federation, coalition or group may not form more than one Parliamentary Group. Senators who do not join a specifically named Parliamentary Group will join the Mixed Group.

Parliamentary initiative.

Act whereby parliamentary proceedings are initiated which can be legislative in nature or might pertain to authorisation, supervision and political impetus or the election of other bodies. It receives the same name as the parliamentary report being channelled.

Parliamentary law.

Parliamentary prerogative by virtue of which any criminal trials brought against Senators and Deputies are tried by the Criminal Section of the Supreme Court.

Parliamentary Non-Civil Service Staff.

Staff responsible for performing functions not attributed statutorily to the Parliamentary Civil Service, in positions of such a nature as required by the staff structure. Non-Civil Service staff are recruited by each House. In the Senate, there are the following professional groups: doctors, analysts, programmers, nurses, guides, administrative assistants, computing assistants, audiovisual assistants, electricians, maintenance staff, and drivers and motorists.

Parliamentary prerogatives.

Inviolability, immunity and special legislation are part of the legal statute for members of parliament. The purpose of such prerogatives is not to give parliamentarians special protection or preferential treatment over other citizens, but rather to guarantee that they are able to fully perform the functions corresponding to their respective House, ensuring their independence from other powers. See “Inviolability”, “Immunity” and “Special legislation”.

Parliamentary proceedings.

Series or succession of acts which must be followed in order to substantiate an initiative. The debating and processing of each kind of initiative, whether it is aimed at passing a law or another legislative text, issuing authorisation, supervising the Government, impelling Government action in a certain direction, or the election of certain positions, are governed by a specific procedure.

Parliamentary standing orders.

Superior regulations governing parliamentary organisation which contain the rules of organisation and functioning of the House. They are approved by each House through the exercising of autonomy constitutionally attributed to it. In spite of the name, Parliamentary Standing Orders have the equivalent force to laws. The Standing Orders and their reformation must be approved by an absolute majority of the House.

Period of sittings.

Timeframe that establishes when the Houses can ordinarily meet. The Spanish Constitution establishes that the Houses will meet annually in two ordinary periods of sittings: the first from September to December, and the second from February to June. However, the Houses frequently meet outside of these two ordinary periods, in extraordinary sittings.

Permanent Deputation.

Body responsible for calling extraordinary sittings and safeguarding the powers of the House when it is not in session or when its Mandate has expired or it has been dissolved, until the new House is constituted. The Speaker of the House presides over the Permanent Deputation, which has a minimum of 21 members of parliament chosen by the Parliamentary Groups in proportion to their numerical importance. It is constituted at the start of the Legislature.


See “Right of petition”.

Plenary Sitting.

Formal meeting of the members of the House Plenary Sitting to debate and approve matters within its realm of competence. In the Senate, as a general rule, Plenary Sittings are held between Tuesday and Thursday. The agenda for Plenary Sittings is established by the Speaker in accordance with the Bureau, having consulted the Board of Spokespersons. The representative of the Government can include a single priority matter.

Plenary Sitting.

Functional body of the House made up of all its members. The Plenary Sitting is aware of all the most important matters and in most cases it has the final word in the debate and passing of initiatives presented by Committees for its consideration. See “Plenary Sitting”.

Point of order.

Request regarding the observance of the Standing Orders which can be raised by a member at any point during a debate, citing the applicable section or sections.

President of the Government.

Position held by a single individual responsible for presiding over and directing the action of Government and coordinating other Government members whom he or she is free to appoint and dismiss. The inauguration of the President requires a vote of confidence to be passed by the Congress of Deputies. Confidence must be maintained because if it is denied through a vote of no confidence or the failure of a vote of confidence, the Government must tender its resignation to the King.


In addition to official publications, the Senate guarantees public access to information through its webpage.