Spanish general election, 2011
|Most voted party in each province. Every province is a multi-member district for the Congress.|
The 2011 Spanish general election was held on 20 November 2011 to elect the 10th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. At stake were all 350 seats to the Congress of Deputies and 208 of 266 seats to the Senate.
It was a snap election, called by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero four months earlier than scheduled amid the 2008–2012 Spanish financial crisis, after his government's perceived failure to cope with the worsening situation of the country's economy. The decision was announced on 28 July,4 with the official calling of the election and dissolution of the Cortes Generales taking place on 26 September.5
The ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba after Zapatero's refusal to run for a third term, was swept from power in a landslide by the opposition People's Party under Mariano Rajoy. The PSOE scored its worst results ever in a general election since Spanish transition to democracy, with only 110 seats as well as its lowest percentage share of the vote since 1977.6
Voting is on the basis of universal suffrage in a secret ballot. The electoral system used is closed list proportional representation with seats allocated using the D'Hondt method. Only lists which poll 3% of the total vote in each district (which includes votes "en blanco", i.e., for none of the above) can be considered. Under articles 12 and 68 of the constitution, the minimum voting age is 18.8
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Under Article 68 of the Spanish constitution, the boundaries of the electoral districts must be the same as the provinces of Spain and, under Article 141, this can only be altered with the approval of Congress.8
Article 67.3 of the Spanish Constitution prohibits dual membership of both chambers of the Cortes or of the Cortes and regional assemblies, meaning that candidates must resign from regional assemblies if elected. Article 70 also makes active judges, magistrates, public defenders, serving military personnel, active police officers and members of constitutional and electoral tribunals ineligible.8 Additionally, under Article 11 of the Political Parties Law, June 2002 (Ley Orgánica 6/2002, de 27 de junio, de Partidos Políticos), parties and individual candidates may be prevented from standing by the Spanish Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo), if they are judged to have violated Article 9 of that law which prohibits parties which are perceived to discriminate against people on the basis of ideology, religion, beliefs, nationality, race, gender or sexual orientation (Article 9a), foment or organise violence as a means of achieving political objectives (Article 9b) or support or compliment the actions of "terrorist organisations" (Article 9c).10 Article 55, Section 2 of the 1985 electoral law also disqualifies director generals or equivalent leaders of state monopolies and public bodies such as the Spanish state broadcaster RTVE.11 Lastly, following changes to the electoral law which took effect for the 2007 municipal elections, candidates' lists must be composed of at least 40% of candidates of either gender and each group of five candidates must contain at least two males and two females.12
- Presenting candidates
Parties and coalitions of different parties which have registered with the Electoral Commission can present lists of candidates (Article 44, 1985 electoral law). Groups of electors which have not registered with the commission can also present lists, provided that they obtain the signatures of 1% of registered electors in a particular district (Article 169).11
Apportionment displays some incoherence since the population count includes non-voting foreigners but excludes voting citizens living abroad. Another oddity is that apportionment and the election itself use different rules. Lastly, as in most countries (Scandinavia being an exception), the minimum seat requirement generates malapportionment i.e., the fact that a Soria voter weights 4 times more than a Madrid voter (using official 2010 population data).13
The outgoing Spanish government was led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero from the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, who had announced on 2 April 2011 in a Federal Committee of his party that he would be stepping down as prime ministerial candidate for the next election.14 Zapatero's decision not to seek a third term in office can be explained, partly, due to internal pressures within his party as both the party's performance in opinion polls and Zapatero's approval ratings had begun to plummet after Zapatero's radical change of policy on May 2010, when his government began to apply a series of unpopular austerity packages and budget cuts in order to try to curb the country's high public deficit during the ongoing Spanish financial crisis.15 However, Zapatero's own disaffection with the policies he had been instructed to apply from Europe, as well as the quick deterioration of Spain's economic situation (with a 20% unemployment rate), are also though to have helped influence his final decision.
Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba was chosen as the party's candidate for Prime Minister, as he remained the only candidate in the leadership election in his party after the withdrawal of the other major candidate, Carme Chacón, from the race to the 2011 general election.16 The other major national party, the People's Party, was led by Mariano Rajoy for the third successive time after two defeats in the 2004 and 2008 elections and fresh from its landslide victory in the May 2011 regional elections.
The end of the legislature presided over by PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was initially scheduled for March 2012, but on 28 July 2011 Zapatero announced his intention to call an early election for 20 November. "I want a new government to take control of the economy from 1 January next year," said Zapatero to justify his decision. "It is convenient to hold elections this fall so a new government can take charge of the economy in 2012, fresh from the balloting."17 This decision made this election the 7th early election since Spain's transition to democracy.18
As a result of President of Andalusia José Antonio Griñán's decision not to call a snap election in Andalusia, this was the first time since 1996 that a general election was not held concurrently with an Andalusian regional election. Andalusia held its election separately in 25 March 2012.
Spain has more than 50 registered national parties, but fewer than 10 are considered significant. Since 1982, only 2 political parties have won in Spanish national elections:19
- Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), a social-democratic party;
- People's Party (PP), a conservative party.
At the 2008 general election the only two other nationally represented parties which won seats were United Left and Union, Progress and Democracy.19 A number of other regional parties also won seats (Convergence and Union and Republican Left in Catalonia, the Basque Nationalist Party in the Basque Country, the Galician Nationalist Bloc in Galicia, the Canarian Coalition in the Canary Islands and the Navarrese People's Union and Nafarroa Bai in Navarre).
A change in the electoral law, passed in January 2011, requires parties without representation in the Courts to obtain the signatures of 0.1% of registered electors per district they are running in.20 For an updated list please see the following link.
The electoral campaign started at 12:00 AM on 4 November with the traditional pasting of party's posters.21
- Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE): "Fight for what you want (Pelea por lo que quieres)"22
- People's Party (PP): "Join the change (Súmate al cambio)"23
- United Left (IU): "Rebel! (¡Rebélate!)"24
- Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD): "Every vote counts (Cada voto vale)"25
|Parties and coalitions||Votes||Congress||Senate|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party||PSOE||7,003,511||28.76||−15.11||110||−59||54||20||74||−43|
|United Left-The Greens||IU-LV||1,686,040||6.92||+3.15||11||+9||1||1||2||±0|
|Union, Progress and Democracy||UPyD||1,143,225||4.70||+3.51||5||+4||0||0||0||±0|
|Convergence and Union||CiU||1,015,691||4.17||+1.14||16||+6||9||4||13||+6|
|Basque Nationalist Party||PNV||324,317||1.33||+0.14||5||−1||4||1||5||+1|
|Republican Left of Catalonia||ERC||256,985||1.06||−0.10||3||±0||0||0||0||−4|
|Galician Nationalist Bloc||BNG||184,037||0.76||−0.07||2||±0||0||0||0||−1|
|Canarian Coalition-New Canarias||CC-NC||143,881||0.59||−0.09||2||±0||1||1||2||±0|
|Votes cast / turnout||24,666,441||68.94||−4.91|
|Source: Ministry of the Interior|
On 20 December, the investiture voting was held in the Congress of Deputies. Rajoy was elected Prime Minister of Spain by 187 votes to 149 with 14 abstentions. Only Rajoy's party and the Asturian Forum party voted Yes. Eight political forces (outgoing Prime Minister's PSOE, CiU, IU, UPyD, ERC, BNG, Coalició Compromís and Geroa Bai) voted No, with the PNV, Amaiur and CC abstentions, for a total of 350 votes. Rajoy obtained the absolute majority by a lead of 11 votes, allowing him to form a government.26 Amaiur's abstention came as a surprise, since it was expected that they would vote No. This, they argued, was due to their belief that "It was not their competence to decide who is the Prime Minister of Spain".27
Investiture voting for Mariano Rajoy Brey (PP)
Absolute majority: 176/350
|Yes||PP (185), UPN (1), FAC (1)||187|
|No||PSOE (110), CiU (16), IU-LV (11), UPyD (5),
Esquerra (3), BNG (2), Compromís-Q (1), GBai (1)
|Abstentions||Amaiur (7), EAJ-PNV (5), CC-NC-PNC (2)||14|
- "Rajoy asume el legado de Aznar tras ser ratificado como candidato del PP a La Moncloa". El País. 2 September 2003.
- "Rubalcaba dice adiós a las ideas y el estilo de Zapatero". La Vanguardia. 10 July 2011.
- "Iñaki Antigüedad será el cabeza de lista de Amaiur por Bizkaia el 20-N". Deia. 12 October 2011.
- "Zapatero convoca el 20-N para que "otro Gobierno dé certidumbre"". El País. 29 July 2011.
- "Real Decreto 1329/2011, de 26 de septiembre, de disolución del Congreso de los Diputados y del Senado y de convocatoria de elecciones". Boletín Oficial del Estado. 26 September 2011.
- "Rajoy logra para el PP una mayoría histórica con 186 diputados y el PSOE se hunde con 110". RTVE. 20 November 2011.
- General features of Spanish electoral system, ElectionResources.org accessed 20 April 2011
- "The Spanish Constitution of 1978".
- Electoral Law
- "Law regarding registration of political parties". Retrieved 6 March 2011.
- "Law governing electoral procedures". Retrieved 6 March 2011.
- "OSCE observers task force report on 2008 Spanish election" (PDF). Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe OSCE. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
- "Zapatero abre paso a un nuevo liderazgo en el PSOE tras renunciar a ser candidato". El País. 3 April 2011.
- "Zapatero da un vuelco a su estrategia con un recorte de sueldos públicos sin precedentes". El País. 13 May 2010.
- "Rubalcaba, "candidato de facto" del PSOE al no lograr avales ningún aspirante". ABC. 13 June 2011.
- Ross, Emma (29 July 2011). "Spain's embattled prime minister calls early elections". USA Today. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "Zapatero anuncia el séptimo adelanto electoral en democracia". El País. 29 July 2011.
- Elections in Spain accessed 6 March 2011
- Los partidos minoritarios dispondrán de 20 días para recoger firmas
- "La campaña electoral starts this night with the traditional "paste of posters"". ABC. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- "Pelea por lo que quieres", lema de campaña del PSOE
- 'Súmate al cambio', lema del Partido Popular para las elecciones del 20-N
- IU anima a superar la "dicotomía" PP-PSOE con su lema "Rebélate!"
- Para UPyD, 'Cada voto vale' y luchará por conseguir la confianza de los ciudadanos
- Rajoy, investido presidente
- Amaiur se abstiene en la votación de investidura por no ser su "competencia"