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State structure

Cortes SpainCortes SpainPhoto: Ben BenderCC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

On November 22, 1975, Spain became a parliamentary constitutional monarchy again. The constitution is based on the constitution (Constitución) which was approved on December 6, 1978 after a referendum. The large degree of autonomy of the different peoples and regions was also regulated in this.

The Spanish parliament, the "Cortes Generales", consists of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados), comparable to the Lower House, and the Senate (Senado), comparable to our Upper House. These two chambers are called together by the king and can also be dissolved by him. Only the Congreso can force the government to resign after a vote of no confidence, a "moción de censura".

The 350-member Congress is elected for four years. The provinces form the constituencies, and the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco are each represented in Congress by one delegate. The Spanish electoral system is a combination of a district system and proportional representation. All Spaniards aged eighteen and older are allowed to vote.

The Senate has 255 members, regional deputies with a term of four years, and almost every province can appoint four senators. This makes the vote of the smallest province just as important as the vote of the largest province. This is not considered a good state of affairs and therefore there are plans to change the whole set-up of the Senate. The intention is that the Senado will become the representation in the government of the autonomous regions, and therefore no longer of the provinces. For the time being, however, they are no more than plans.

After a draft government program has been drawn up, Congress elects the Prime Minister (Presidente del Gobierno). On the proposal of the Prime Minister, the King can appoint or dismiss ministers. The Prime Minister is very powerful in Spain and can be compared to the British Prime Minister or the German Chancellor. The Spanish ministers may also be members of parliament.

After Congress has given its consent, the king, on the proposal of the Prime Minister, can call a referendum. These referendums are purely of a consultative nature. For the current political situation see chapter history.

Royal palace, SpainRoyal palace, SpainPhoto: Rodrig RMCC 4.0 Internationalno changes made

Spain's hereditary head of state is the king, the "Rey de España", also the symbol of unity. The person of the king is inviolable and takes no responsibility whatsoever. All decisions of the king are therefore countersigned by the Prime Minister. Thus, the ultimate responsibility always rests with the person who signs the decisions.

The king has so many, albeit formal powers, that he has a great influence on a number of important matters.

Some of its powers are:

Administrative division

Spain Administrative divisionSpain Administrative divisionPhoto: TUBS CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

Spain had a highly centralized form of government under the regime of dictator Franco. In 1978, the form of government changed into a decentralized structure with seventeen autonomous regions (comunidades autónomas), each with its own president, parliament, executive and supreme court. At a lower level, Spain consists of 52 provinces, including the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco, which in 1995 were declared "Ciudad Autónoma", autonomous cities with limited powers. These provinces are governed by provincial councils (Diputaciones Provincial). The members of the provincial council are elected from their ranks by the councilors in the province following municipal elections. The executive committee of the provinces is the "Comisión de Gobierno".

The municipalities (municipios) are governed by mayors and councilors (Ayuntamiento). The mayors are elected by the councilors and the councilors are elected by the residents of the municipalities. In 1998 there were 8 097 municipalities in Spain. Spain has many very small municipalities, sometimes with less than 100 inhabitants. Approx. 86% of all municipalities have less than 500 inhabitants. Some small municipalities have a so-called "Asamblea Vecinal" in which all residents form a kind of neighborhood council that takes the decisions.

On December 18, 1979, Catalonia and the Basque provinces were the first to have a form of self-government. The Basque population elects a Basque National Council that has many powers in matters such as trade, agriculture, education and health. This National Council elects a prime minister who then forms a government. There is even a fiscal autonomy that allows people to levy taxes themselves.

A parliament is elected in Catalonia. This parliament itself elects the prime minister and the government.

The parliament, the president and the government together bear the historical name "Generalitat" (Generality). The competences lie in the fields of education, tourism, energy supply, media and financial institutions. The Generality can levy taxes itself and, just like in the Basque provinces, Catalonia has its own police force.


Library of the University of SalamancaLibrary of the University of SalamancaPhoto: Antoine Taveneaux CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

Education in Spain has long lagged behind the rest of modern Europe. Especially the countryside, where the distances are great and the connections were poor, had a large number of illiterate people. The money spent on education also contrasted sharply with other countries in Europe. The change started from 1962 under the Franco regime. In barely fifteen years, the budget for education has increased by 100%. Illiteracy, especially among the elderly, was tackled by the Servicio de Educación Permanente de Adultos. This organization provides lower education courses for the elderly. Moreover, control over education is in the hands of the autonomous governments. Distance education, the Educación de Distancia ", also ensures that more and more people can make use of the education system, and that applies to primary to university education. In 1999 more than 130,000 people followed university education in this way through the Universidad Nacional de Educación de Distancia, which even has branches abroad.

One-third of the pupils attend private schools owned by private or religious people. Most of these schools are 100% funded by the government. They are then obliged to have a school board and in principle to admit any student. Education at the state schools is free.

According to the new education law of 1990, the Ley Orgánica de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo (LOGSE), there are the following school types in Spain:

First of all, the Educación Infantil, pre-school and kindergarten. This non-compulsory education consists of a three-year or six-year cycle.

This is followed by Educación Primaria, the primary education that is provided from six to twelve years of age and is compulsory. There are three cycles of two years each with a number of compulsory and a number of optional subjects. The introduction of a foreign language is already started in group three.

Compulsory secondary education is the Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO), from 12 to 16 years old, after which compulsory education ends. The ESO has two two-year cycles. The second cycle contains most of the courses taught in the first cycle, supplemented with a number of electives that increase to 30%.

After the ESO, the pupils receive a certificate that gives access to the "Bachillerato". One can also study in vocational training.

The Bachillerato gives access to the university. One gets compulsory core subjects and subjects of the direction one chooses: engineering, art, natural sciences or social sciences. In addition, there are again a number of electives.

Secondary vocational education, the Formación Profesional Grado Medio, is not very popular in Spain. It takes an average of about two years and the students, in addition to general subjects, mainly receive vocational subjects.

Higher professional education or Formación Profesional Grado Superior can be followed with a Bachillerato diploma.

University education is divided into three cycles:

After the first three years one is "Diplomado" and with that obtained diploma the second cycle can be followed, which lasts two years. One is then a "Licenciado", roughly comparable to "master's degree". After this one can continue studying for the title of "Doctor".

Spain currently has 62 universities, 19 of which are private. The University of Salamanca is the oldest in Spain and dates back to 1218. The Universidad Complutense ofMadrid/ Alcalá is one of the largest in the world with more than 100,000 students. Other major universities are those ofBarcelona,Valencia, Seville, Granada and País Vasco. The number of university students has doubled in ten years to more than 1.5 million in 1999..


Hospital Sant Pau, BarcelonaHospital Sant Pau, BarcelonaPhoto: Thomas Ledl CC 4.0 Internationalno changes made

In Spain, a lot of money is traditionally spent by the government on healthcare. A number of autonomous regions regulate healthcare themselves. The Compulsory Health Insurance, set up in 1942, was very inadequate, and it was only after the Seguridad Social was set up in 1966 that much changed for the better. In 1971, 75% of the population was already covered by this scheme and by 1982 that percentage had already risen to 86%. In 1986 the Ley General de Sanidad was adopted, making it possible to house the entire population in the Sistema Nacional de Salud, the National Health System. From 1991, 99% of the Spanish population is covered by this system. There are plans to privatize this scheme.

Spain also has a large number of private clinics. Approx. 25% of medical care is provided in private clinics and other private institutions.

Due to the much improved medical care, it is currently among the best in the world. The life expectancy of the population is therefore very high and the infant mortality is very low. The number of doctors per 1000 inhabitants and the number of organ transplants per million inhabitants are also among the highest in the world.


Valencia plaza de torosValencia plaza de torosPhoto: Dorieo CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

Bullfighting dates back to ancient times, the bull is therefore the national animal of Spain, and this "sport" was also practiced in the Middle Ages and the time of the Habsburgs. At first only by the nobility but later more and more "matadores" emerged from the common people.

There are currently about 700 bull farms where fighting bulls or "toros bravos" are bred. The most expensive bulls cost around 15,000 euros and a matador, the torero that kills the bull, earns up to 50,000 euros per "corrida", per bullfight. Six bulls are killed per corrida. More than 13,000 corridas are held annually with 50 million visitors and about 30,000 bulls.

Corridas only take place in the summer and usually start in the afternoon. The performance begins with a parade of three matadores with their helpers, the "cuadrilla". Accompanied by typical Spanish music, they parade through the arena, the "plaza de toros". Then the fight begins and the cuadrillas test and challenge the bull.

Next, the "picador" sitting on a horse comes into play, injuring the bull in the withers, making the bull weakened by the blood loss. After the picador come the "banderillos", who stick their sharp "banderillas" in the shoulder of the bull. Finally comes the matador who puts an end to the often unequal battle with a sword thrust. Although all bulls eventually die, there are also regular deaths and injuries among the matadors.

Despite many protests from around the world, this Spanish popular entertainment (fiesta nacional) still continues with ever-increasing numbers of visitors. Moreover, it is a real industry that earns many millions of euros and in which 170,000 employees are directly involved. Corridas in this form are prohibited in the Canary Islands, as well as in some mainland municipalities.

The national Spanish public broadcaster, RTVE, stopped broadcasting bullfighting in January 2011. The channel finds it too violent for possibly watching children. In Spain, a debate has been raging about the bloody tradition for a long time. Catalonia in the meantime banned bullfighting, the second region after the Canary Islands, where bullfights have not been held since 1991.


Monument to the SEAT 600 in FuengirolaMonument to the SEAT 600 in Fuengirola
Photo: LANOEL CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Catalonia is an important economic region in Spain. Catalonia accounts for 1/5 of the Spanish Gross National Product. It is the part of Spain that is industrialized first. The automotive industry is especially important (SEAT). The construction sector also provides many jobs, partly due to the enormous rise of tourism in this area.



Hendriksen, B / Barcelona en Cataloniƫ

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Last updated June 2024
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