Government of Spain

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Government of Spain
Spanish: Gobierno de España
Co-official languages
Catalan: Govern d'Espanya
Galician: Goberno de España
Basque: Espainiako Gobernua
Logotipo del Gobierno de España.svg
Logo of the Government of Spain
Established January 15, 1834; 184 years ago (1834-01-15)
State Kingdom of Spain
Leader Prime Minister
Appointed by Monarch
Main organ Council of Ministers
Responsible to Cortes Generales
Headquarters Palace of Moncloa
Website Official website
Escudo de España (mazonado).svg
This article is part of a series on the
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The Government of Spain (Spanish: Gobierno de España) is the central government which leads the executive branch and the General State Administration of the Kingdom of Spain. It is also commonly referred to as Government of the Nation.

The government consists of the Prime Minister and the Ministers; the prime minister has the overall direction of the Ministers and can appoint or terminate their appointments freely and all of them belong to the supreme decision-making body, known as the Council of Ministers. The government is responsible before the Parliament (Cortes Generales), and more precisely before the Congress of the Deputies, a body which elects the Prime Minister or dismisses him through a motion of censure. This is because Spain is a parliamentary system established by the Constitution of 1978.

Its fundamental regulation is placed in Title IV of the Constitution, as well as in Title V of that document, with respect to its relationship with the Cortes Generales, and in Law 50/1997, of November 27, of the Government. According to Article 97 of the Constitution and Article 1.1 of the Government Act, "the Government directs domestic and foreign policy, the civil and military administration and the defense of the State. It exercises the executive function and the regulatory regulation according to the Constitution and the laws".

The current prime minister is Pedro Sánchez, who took office on 2 June 2018.[1] He is the leader of the Socialist Workers' Party, the second biggest party in the Cortes Generales. Sánchez arrived to government through a motion of no confidence —the first time in history— against former prime minister Mariano Rajoy who was in office since 2011, with an absolute majority between 2011 and 2015 and with the support of other parties between 2016 and 2018 (between december 2015 and october 2016 he was acting prime minister).

The Government is occasionally referred to with the metonymy Moncloa, due to that the residence of the Prime Minister, the Palace of Moncloa, is also the headquarters of the government.


The Government's performance is governed by the following operating principles:

  • Principle of presidential direction: The Prime Minister directs to the Ministers and can appoint or cease them freely.
  • Principle of responsibility: The Prime Minister responds politically to the Congress of Deputies for the action of the Government. The eventual cessation of the Prime Minister implies the cessation of the Government.
  • Principle of collegiality: The Government, understood as Council of Ministers, is a collegiate body composed of a plurality of members of the Government.
  • Principle of solidarity: The Government responds in solidum for the action of each one of the members of the Government.
  • Departmental principle: The members of the Government, as well as members of this collegiate body, are also the heads of the departmental bodies in charge of a more or less homogeneous area of competence.

Government in Parliament

Control sessions in the
Cortes Generales
PM Sánchez before Senate
PM Sánchez before Congress
Congress of Deputies

As a key principle of every parliamentary system, the government is responsible before the Parliament (Part III § 66.2).

The Kingdom of Spain is a parliamentary monarchy in which all the political decisions are made by the government. In english-speaking countries, Spain is commonly described as a constitutional monarchy, but parliamentary and constitutional monarchies are not exactly the same. The Spanish Constitution describes the Kingdom as a parliamentary monarchy because the monarch is not the source of the executive power —unlike countries like the United Kingdom— and acts only as a moderator.

Parliament in Spain is called Cortes Generales and is split into two chambers: the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. The Congress is the lower house and the Senate is the upper house (Part III § 66.1). Spain possess an asymmetric bicameral parliament, in which the Congress is the most powerful chamber because is the chamber which elects the Prime Minister and can censure him, where all the legislative procedure starts and where the legislative procedure ends, being able to raise a veto of the Senate.

Both Congress and Senate can propose laws, although the Senate can not discuss them directly, but must send them to Congress to begin the process. The Government also has legislative initiative (Part III § 87.1). When the government is the one who proposes the law, it is called a proyecto de ley (bill), whereas when one of the chambers does it is called a proposición de ley (bill). When the parliament proposes a law, the government has the right to be consulted about it.

Neither the prime minister or the ministers need to be MPs,[2] but they are forced to account before both chambers every week in a parliament meeting known as sesión de control (control session) (Part V § 108). Normally, the prime minister is elected from the Congress MPs but there are exceptions like the current prime minister Pedro Sánchez, who is not a member of any chamber.[3] To question minor-rank ministers as Secretaries of State or Under Secretaries this must to be done in Parliamentary Committees.[4][5]

Under the parliamentary system, it requires that the government to maintain the confidence of the Congress of Deputies. If this not happens, the government may fall or being unable to pass legislation. There are two procedures through which it's known if the government has the confidence of the Congress: the motion of no-confidence (Part V § 113) by which MPs can ask the Congress to retire its confidence in the prime minister and to elect another (constructive vote of no confidence) or the question of confidence (Part V § 112) by which the prime minister ask the Congress if they support the government's political program or an specific legislation (if they vote against the government, the prime minister is forced to resign).

The Government and the Crown

Royal prerogative of assent and enact laws
King Juan Carlos I assenting to and enacting a law...
... and PM Rajoy countersigning the law.

The Spanish monarch, currently King Felipe VI, is the head of state and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Sometimes is also called sovereign, although it has not sovereignty. As a monarch of a parliamentary monarchy, the executive power does not belong to The Crown and is independent from it. The Constitution gives the monarch a symbolic role, but also a moderating role, being able to intervene if there is a conflict between the country's institutions (Part II § 56).

As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, former King Juan Carlos I he suppressed the 23-F Spanish coup d'état attempt in February 1981, showing that the monarch has more power than the constitution grants him. The heir presumptive is Leonor, Princess of Asturias.

The Constitution also gives the monarch some powers known as Royal Prerogatives. These prerogatives range from the signing of international treaties, to declaring war and making peace or to dissolving the parliament. However, with the arrival of democracy, this prerrogatives has been regulated and most of them must to be countersigned by an official.

Even that the monarch is not part of the executive power, the prime minister has weekly meetings with him to inform him about the government's activity and the King can express his opinion.[6] In the same sense, the monarch is normally invited to the first Council of Ministers of every new government (and others if the prime ministers wants to) and to the meetings of bodies as the National Security Council or the National Defence Council.

The Royal prerogatives are:

Domestic powers

  • The power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. This power is exercised by the monarch himself. By convention he appoints the individual with most support of the Congress.
  • The power to dismiss and appoint other ministers. This power is exercised by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister.
  • The power to assent to and enact laws by giving Royal Assent to Bills passed by Parliament, which is required in order for a law to make it into alaw. This prerogative is exercised by the monarch but needs the countersigned of the prime minister. It's not constitutionally allowed to him to refuse to sign a law passed by Parliament.
  • The power to assent to and enact norms with a lower rank than law. This prerogative is exercised by the monarch but needs the countersigned of the prime minister, a minister or the president of the Congress or the Senate (depending of the kind of norm).
  • The power to call for a referendum. This is exercised with the countersigned of the prime minister after being requested by the Council of Ministers.[7]
  • The power to command the Armed Forces of Spain. This prerogative is delegated into the prime minister and the minister of Defence.
  • The power to give royal pardons, in Spain known as right of grace (derecho de gracia). This is exercised by the monarch but the decision to whom must to be pardon is delegated on the Minister of Justice and the Council of Ministers.
  • The power to be informed of the affairs of State and chair over the sessions of the Council of Ministers. It's exercised after being requested by the prime minister.
  • The power to grant civil and military jobs. This prerogative needs a government's countersign.
  • The power to appoint civil or military members of his private household.
  • The power to use freely the budget of his household.
  • The power to grant (and also to cancel and annul) honours.
  • The power of high patronage of the Royal Academies.
  • The power to grant sports teams, federations and other sports organizations the title of Real (Royal).

Foreign powers


To see the current members, see Current government.

According to Article 98 of the Spanish Constitution and Article 1.2 of the Government Law, the Government of Spain is composed of:

  • The Prime Minister.
  • The Deputy Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Ministers (If there are more than one).
  • The Ministers.
  • Other members. There is the possibility of incorporating other figures into government by law (such as Secretaries of State). However, this constitutional possibility has not yet been used.


In accordance with article 11 of the Law of the Government, "to be a member of the Government it is required to be Spanish, adult, to enjoy the rights of active and passive suffrage, as well as not to be disabled to exercise employment or public office by sentence Judicial firm."[2]

Criminal privileges

The members of the Government enjoy their own criminal procedure so that they will only be tried by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court.[8]

The initiation of a case for treason or against the security of the State can only respond to the initiative of a quarter of the Congress of Deputies, approved by an absolute majority thereof,[9] and can not be granted a pardon in such cases.[10]


The prime minister office as well as the official headquarters of the government are located in the Palace of Moncloa, in outside Madrid. The Council of Ministers meetings also take place here. In this palace is also the office of the deputy prime minister, the headquarters of the Ministry of the Presidency and the office of the Government's Spokesperson. Most of the government departments are located in the center of the city of Madrid, having each of them its own buildings. One of the most famous place where some ministries are located is the gubernamental complex of New Ministries.

Advisory bodies

The Spanish Government has two main advisory bodies:

  • The Council of State, which advise the Government in legal matters and all the issues that does not correspond to the other advisory body.
  • The Economic and Social Council, responsible for advising the Government in socioeconomic and work matters.


The State General Budget is considered one of the most important legislations that a government can pass. According to the Constitution, the government is the only body that can make the Budget Bill, although is the parliament who must to accept it, reject it or to propose modifications.

Devolved governments

Since the approval of the Constitution of 1978, Spain was established as a decentralized unitary country which grants its regions a high grade of autonomy. The first two regions to get its autonomy where the autonomous communties of the Basque Country and Catalonia in 1979. In 1981, four regions get its autonomy, being Andalusia, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia. A year later, 7 regions more were granted their autonomy: Aragon, Canary Islands, Castile-La Mancha, Navarre, Murcia and La Rioja. The last four regions to get their autonomy were the Balearic Islands, Castile and León, Extremadura and Madrid, all of them in 1983.

The Constitution also grants the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla autonomy, which they got in 1995. The Constitution also gives them the posibility to become in a full autonomous community, but until today these cities didn't ask for this clause.

Previous Legislations

Prime Ministers of Spain since the Spanish transition to democracy

Prime Minister Party Term of office Legislature
Adolfo Suárez Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) 3 July 1976 26 February 1981 I
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) 26 February 1981 2 de December 1982
Felipe González Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 2 de December 1982 5 May 1996 II, III, IV, V
José María Aznar People's Party (PP) 5 May 1996 17 April 2004 VI, VII
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 17 April 2004 21 December 2011 VIII, IX
Mariano Rajoy People's Party (PP) 21 December 2011 1 June 2018 X, XI, XII
Pedro Sánchez Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 1 June 2018 Present XII

Current government

The Council of Ministers was structured into the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, 17 ministries and the post of Spokesperson of the Government.[11]

Sánchez Government
(7 June 2018 – present)
Office Name Term of office Party Ref.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez 2 June 2018 – present PSOE [12]
Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [13]
Minister of the Presidency, Relations with the Cortes and Equality
Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Josep Borrell 7 June 2018 – present PSC [14]
Minister of Justice
First Notary of the Kingdom
Dolores Delgado 7 June 2018 – present Independent [14]
Minister of Defence Margarita Robles 7 June 2018 – present Independent [14]
Minister of the Treasury María Jesús Montero 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [14]
Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska 7 June 2018 – present Independent [14]
Minister of Development José Luis Ábalos Meco 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [14]
Minister of Education and Vocational Training Isabel Celaá 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [14]
Spokesperson of the Government
Minister of Labour, Migrations and Social Security Magdalena Valerio 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [14]
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Reyes Maroto 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [14]
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Luis Planas 7 June 2018 – present PSOE [14]
Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function Meritxell Batet 7 June 2018 – present PSC [14]
Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera 7 June 2018 – present Independent [14]
Minister of Culture and Sport Màxim Huerta 7 June 2018 – 13 June 2018 Independent [14]
Minister of Economy and Enterprise Nadia Calviño 7 June 2018 – present Independent [14]
Minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare Carmen Montón 7 June 2018 – 11 September 2018 PSOE [14]
Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities Pedro Duque 7 June 2018 – present Independent [14]

Changes June 2018

Office Name Term of office Party Ref.
Minister of Culture and Sport José Guirao 14 June 2018 – present Independent [16]

Changes September 2018

Minister of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare María Luisa Carcedo 12 September 2018 – present PSOE [17]

Logotipo del Gobierno de España.svg

Shown here is the official logo of the Government of Spain. On the left are the EU and the Spanish flags and in the centre is the coat of arms of Spain and the words Gobierno de España (in English: "Government of Spain").


  1. ^ "Socialist Sánchez sworn in as Spain's PM". BBC News. 2018-06-02. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  2. ^ a b "Government Act of 1997 - Article 11". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  3. ^ "Socialist Sánchez sworn in as Spain's PM". BBC News. 2018-06-02. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  4. ^ "Standing Orders of the Congress - Article 189" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  5. ^ "Standing Orders of the Senate - Article 168". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  6. ^ La Moncloa (2018-07-16), El Rey y el presidente mantienen su despacho semanal, retrieved 2018-11-15
  7. ^ "Referendum Act of 1980". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  8. ^ Article 102.1 of the Spanish Constitution
  9. ^ Article 102.2 of the Spanish Constitution
  10. ^ Article 102.3 of the Spanish Constitution
  11. ^ "Real Decreto 355/2018, de 6 de junio, por el que se reestructuran los departamentos ministeriales" (pdf). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (138): 58722–58727. 7 June 2018. ISSN 0212-033X.
  12. ^ "Real Decreto 354/2018, de 1 de junio, por el que se nombra Presidente del Gobierno a don Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón" (pdf). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (134): 57657. 2 June 2018. ISSN 0212-033X.
  13. ^ "Real Decreto 356/2018, de 6 de junio, por el que se nombra Vicepresidenta del Gobierno a doña María del Carmen Calvo Poyato" (pdf). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (138): 58728. 7 June 2018. ISSN 0212-033X.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Real Decreto 357/2018, de 6 de junio, por el que se nombran Ministros del Gobierno" (pdf). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (138): 58729. 7 June 2018. ISSN 0212-033X.
  15. ^ "Real Decreto 358/2018, de 6 de junio, por el que se dispone que doña María Isabel Celaá Diéguez, Ministra de Educación y Formación Profesional, asuma las funciones de Portavoz del Gobierno" (pdf). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (138): 58729. 7 June 2018. ISSN 0212-033X.
  16. ^ Redacción (14 June 2018). "José Guirao, nuevo Ministro de Cultura y de Deporte tras la dimisión de Màxim Huerta". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Real Decreto 1161/2018, de 11 de septiembre, por el que se nombra Ministra de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social a doña María Luisa Carcedo Roces" (pdf). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish). Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (221): 88306. 12 September 2018. ISSN 0212-033X.
  • (in Spanish) Spanish cabinets from 1931 to 2004

External links

  • Official website
  • Law 50/1997, of the Government
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