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Congress of Deputies

Congress of Deputies

Congreso de los Diputados
Co-official languages
Basque: Diputatuen Kongresua
Catalan: Congrés dels Diputats
Galician: Congreso dos Deputados
Aranese: Congrès des Deputats
15th Congress of Deputies
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
History
Founded1834
Leadership
Francina Armengol, PSOE
since 17 August 2023
José Antonio Bermúdez de Castro, PP
since 17 August 2023
Marta González Vázquez, PP
since 17 August 2023
Structure
Seats350
Political groups
Government (147)
  •   PSOE (120)
  •   Sumar (27)[a]

Supported by (32)

Opposition (171)

Elections
Party-list proportional representation,
D'Hondt method
Last election
23 July 2023
Meeting place
Palacio de las Cortes
Madrid, Community of Madrid
Kingdom of Spain
Website
congreso.es
Rules
Standing Orders of the Congress of Deputies (English)

The Congress of Deputies (Spanish: Congreso de los Diputados) is the lower house of the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislative branch, the upper house being the Senate. The Congress meets in the Palace of the Parliament (Palacio de las Cortes) in Madrid.

It has 350 members elected by constituencies (matching fifty Spanish provinces and two autonomous cities) by closed list proportional representation using the D'Hondt method. Deputies serve four-year terms. The presiding officer is the President of the Congress of Deputies, who is elected by the members thereof. It is the analogue to a speaker.

In the Congress, MPs from the political parties, or groups of parties, form parliamentary groups. Groups must be formed by at least 15 deputies, but a group can also be formed with only five deputies if the parties got at least 5% of the nationwide vote, or 15% of the votes in the constituencies in which they ran. The deputies belonging to parties who cannot create their own parliamentary group form the Mixed Group.[1]

After the 2019 general election in April, the number of female deputies was up to 168 representing 48% of all members, making Spain the European country with the highest percentage of women in parliament, surpassing Sweden and Finland.[2]

Constitutional position

House's nature

Composition

Section 68.1 of the Spanish Constitution establishes that the Congress of Deputies must be composed of among 300 deputies at least and 400 deputies at most. At present, the house has 350 deputies which is determined by the General Electoral Regime Organic Act, which was approved in 1985.

Electoral system

Deputies per constituency set for the general election of 2023

The Spanish Constitution establishes that the deputies are chosen by universal, free, equal, direct, and secret suffrage. The election is held every four years or earlier in case of snap election. The members of the Congress are elected by proportional representation with closed lists in each constituency.

There are 50 multi-member constituencies for the Congress of Deputies which belong to the 50 provinces of Spain and the two single-member constituencies which belong to two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). According to the Spanish Electoral Act, each province shall be represented by at least two deputies, thus 102 deputies already apportioned. The remaining 248 deputies are allocated proportionally by constituency. This distribution can change in each election and it is specified when writs of election are issued. After the General Election, seats are assigned to the electoral lists in each constituency separately, using the D'Hondt method; parties receive seats in approximate proportion to the number of votes each received in the constituency. A strictly proportional system would result in fractional seats. The D'Hondt method resolves this by favoring parties receiving larger votes.

The 1985 General Electoral Regime Act establishes a 3% minimum valid votes by constituency requirement (blank votes count towards the total votes, but invalid ballots do not count) for a party to participate in the seat distribution for a constituency. This applies to the provinces that elect at least 24 deputies. At present, this condition applies only to Madrid and Barcelona.

In March 2011, the General Electoral Regime Organic Act was remodeled, requiring parties that are not represented either in Congress or in the Senate to collect signatures to support their candidacy to be able to run in the election. One-tenth of a percent of those registered to vote in a constituency are required to be on the ballot and each citizen can sign only once for a party candidacy. The Electoral Board establishes the regulations for collection of signatures.

Mandate

The deputies' term of office finishes four years after their election or when the Cortes are dissolved, which can take place jointly or separately with the dissolution of the Senate. The dissolution's right belongs to the Monarch who exercises it by request of the President of the Government after the deliberation of the Council of Ministers and under its sole responsibility. The dissolution of the Cortes also takes place if there is a failed legislature or two months after a failed investiture session, in this case the Sovereign dissolves the house with the countersign of the President of the Congress of Deputies. During their mandate, the deputies have some guarantees and privileges to carry their responsibilities out according to Section 97 of the Spanish Constitution.

Bodies of the Congress

Congreso de los Diputados (built 1850): Palacio de las Cortes. Seat of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid (2016)

Exercising the autonomy recognised by the Constitution to the Congress of Deputies, the house is regulated by some internal rules established by itself in 1982 and it configures different government bodies to carry the pertinent competencies out.

Governing bodies

The governing bodies of the Congress of Deputies are the bodies which under their authority the House is manage. Those bodies are the President, the Bureau and the Board of Spokespersons.[3]

The President of the Congress of Deputies is the highest authority and it represents the House and it is, de facto, the whole parliament leader. As head of the Congress, it also chairs the Bureau, the Board of Spokespersons and the Permanent Deputation, and is the maximum responsible authority of the Congress' Police.[4][5]

The Bureau of the Congress of Deputies is the collective body that represents the House and manages the day-to-day of the Chamber, preparing the budget and making all the necessary decisions to allow the proper functioning of the functions of the Congress.[6]

The Board of Spokespersons of the Congress of Deputies is the collective body formed by representatives of the parliamentary groups and normally, government representatives, that establishes the agenda of the House.

Working bodies

The working bodies of the Congress of Deputies are the Plenary, the Committees, the Permanent Deputation and the Parliamentary Groups.[7]

The Plenary is the central body of the Congress of Deputies which allows the house for exercising their choices. It is the reunion of all the members of the Parliament when half plus one of its members are attending the house. This body represents the unity of the house and it works through the plenary sessions which can be ordinary or extraordinary.

The ordinary sessions take place during the two meeting terms: September to December and February to June. They are convened by a calendar which has already been set. The extraordinary sessions are convened at the request of the President of the Government, the Permanent Council or the absolute majority of the house. In this kind of sessions a particular agenda is presented and the sessions end when all items have been treated.

The Committees are the basic working bodies of the Congress. They are composed of a proportional number of deputies depending on the numerical importance of the parliamentary groups of the house. The committees are classified as follows: permanent or non-permanent and legislative or non-legislative.

The permanent legislative committees examine and rule the projects and bills. The Plenary of the Congress can confer them full legislative power in relation to a matter, so they can permanently approve or reject any project or bill. The regulations of the Congress establish 17 permanent legislative committees. The permanent non-legislative committees have responsibilities not related to the legislative production. The regulations of the Congress establish 3 permanent non-legislative committees, and they allow the Plenary to create another ones at the beginning of each legislature. The non-permanent committees are created with a specific purpose and their themes and duration are beforehand determined by the Plenary of the Congress.

The Permanent Deputation is a body created in order to have a permanent constituted legislative power. It is responsible for safeguarding the powers of the house between the legislative sessions (January, July and August) or when their term has finished because of termination or dissolution. In these three cases, the Permanent Deputation is a temporary extension of the house. The Permanent Deputation is presided by the President of the Congress. It is composed of a proportional number of deputies depending on the numerical importance of the different Parliamentary Groups.

The Parliamentary Groups are groups of members of the house which join depending on their ideology.[7] The Rules of the Congress establish that 15 deputies at least are needed to make a parliamentary group. However, they can make a group if they are at least 5 deputies and they have got at least 15% of the total votes of the constituency where they have run at or 5% of the total votes of the country.[8] The formation of the parliamentary groups takes place at the beginning of each legislature. The deputies who do not enrol in any parliamentary group constitute the Mixed Group.

Composition of the XV legislature

The XV legislature of Spain started on 17 August 2023 when the Cortes Generales were constituted, once the 2023 general election was held.

Bureau of the Congress of Deputies

Bureau of the Congress of Deputies
Position Holder Party
President Francina Armengol Socias sinmarco PSOE
First Vice President Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis sinmarco PSOE
Second Vice President José Antonio Bermúdez de Castro sinmarco PP
Third Vice President Esther Gil de Reboleño Lastortres sinmarco SMR
Fourth Vice President Marta González Vázquez sinmarco PP
First Secretary Gerardo Pisarello Prados sinmarco SMR
Second Secretary Isaura Leal Fernández sinmarco PSOE
Third Secretary Guillermo Mariscal Anaya sinmarco PP
Fourth Secretary María del Carmen Navarro Lacoba sinmarco PP

Committees

The Congress of Deputies creates at the beginning of each meeting a series of committees and subcommittees. These bodies purpose is to facilitate the work of the house. The committees have the same powers as the House' Plenary: to control the government by requesting information to the Administration or by requesting the appearance of any member of the Government or Administration; and to legislate by delegation of the plenary and at the request of the Congress' Bureau. The committees also debate the bills originated at the Plenary and the possible amends.

According to the Spanish parliamentary system, in the Congress there are two type or subcommittees, the ordinary subcommittees which purpose is to discuss and make a report about a specific issue and the reporting subcommittees which purpose is to write a first bill proposal to be discussed in the committee.

The committees can be standing committees, which creation is mandatory by the Congress' standing rules or other laws or non-standing committees, which are created by the Plenary. The subcommittees are also created by the Plenary at the request of the committees.

The members of the committees are designated by the parliamentary groups, and once the committees are created they must elect in their first meeting the Bureau of the committee, composed by a chair, two deputy charis and two secretaries. The members of the subcommittees are designated by the committee.

Current Committees (XV legislature, 2023–present)

Permanent Legislative Committees

Committee[9] Chair(s) Term
Constitutional José Zaragoza Alonso PSOE 2023–present
Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix PSOE 2023–present
Justice Francisco Lucas Ayala PSOE 2023–present
Defence Albert Fabra Part PP 2023–present
Finance and Civil Service Alejandro Soler Mur PSOE 2023–present
Budgets Carlos Martín Urriza SMR 2023–present
Interior José Luis Ábalos Meco PSOE 2023–present
Transport and Sustainable Mobility José Ramón Gómez Besteiro PSOE 2023–present
Education, Vocational Training and Sports Mercedes González Fernández PSOE 2023–present
Labour, Social Economy, Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Aina Vidal Sáez SMR (CatComú) 2023–present
Industry and Tourism Inés Granollers i Cunillera ERC 2023–present
Social Rights and Consumer Affairs Luis Carlos Sahuquillo García PSOE 2023–present
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Joseba Andoni Agirretxea Urresti EAJ–PNV 2023–present
Territorial Policy Rafaela Crespín Rubio PSOE 2023–present
Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge Cristina Narbona Ruiz PSOE 2023–present
Housing and Urban Agenda Isabel María Borrego Cortés PP 2023–present
Culture Gerardo Pisarello Prados SMR (CatComú) 2023–present
Economy, Trade and Digital Transformation Pedro Puy Fraga PP 2023–present
Health Agustín Santos Maraver SMR 2023–present
Science, Innovation and Universities María Sandra Moneo Díez PP 2023–present
International Cooperation for Development Susana Ros Martínez PSOE 2023–present
Equality Carmen Calvo Poyato PSOE 2023–present
Youth and Children Jordi Salvador i Duch ERC 2023–present

Permanent non-Legislative Committees

Committee[9] Chair(s) Term
Rules Francina Armengol Socias PSOE 2023–present
Deputies' Statute Manuel Cobo Vega PP 2023–present
Petitions Carlos Aragonés Mendiguchía PP 2023–present
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Agreements of the Toledo Pact María Mercè Perea i Conillas PSOE 2023–present
Monitoring and Evaluation of the Agreements of the State Pact against Gender Violence Adriana Lastra Fernández PSOE 2023–present
Comprehensive Disability Policies María Mercedes Fernández González PP 2023–present
Democratic Quality, Fight Against Corruption and Institutional and Legal Reforms Antidio Fagúndez Campo PSOE 2023–present
Road Safety Marta Madrenas i Mir Junts 2023–present

Presidency of the Congress of Deputies

Legislature President Party Start End
Constituent Fernando Álvarez de Miranda UCD 13 July 1977 22 March 1979
I legislature Landelino Lavilla Alsina UCD 23 March 1979 17 November de 1982
II legislature Gregorio Peces-Barba Logo PSOE, 1976–2001 PSOE 18 November 1982 14 July 1986
III legislature Félix Pons Irazazábal Logo PSOE, 1976–2001 PSOE 15 July 1986 26 March 1996
IV legislature
V legislature
VI legislature Federico Trillo-Figueroa PP 27 March 1996 4 April 2000
VII legislature Luisa Fernanda Rudi Úbeda PP 5 April 2000 1 April 2004
VIII legislature Manuel Marín González PSOE 2 April 2004 31 March de 2008
IX legislature José Bono Martínez PSOE 1 April 2008 12 December 2011
X legislature Jesús Posada Moreno PP 13 December 2011 12 January 2016
XI legislature Patxi López Álvarez PSOE 13 January 2016 18 July 2016
XII legislature Ana Pastor Julián sinmarco PP 19 July 2016 20 May 2019
XIII legislature Meritxell Batet Lamaña PSC 21 May 2019 16 August 2023
XIV legislature
XV legislature Francina Armengol Socias PSOE 17 August 2023 Incumbent

Congress of Deputies building

The allegorical front of the building

The building, Palacio de las Cortes, has a neoclassical style. It was designed by Narciso Pascual Colomer, and built between 1843 and 1850. It sits by the Carrera de San Jerónimo, in Madrid. The relief on the facade by sculptor Ponciano Ponzano centers on a sculpture of Spain embracing the constitutional state, represented by a woman with her arm around a young girl. Surrounding the pair are figures that represent in allegorical form Justice and Peace, Science, Agriculture, Fine Arts, Navigation, Industry, Commerce and so on. Ponzano also executed two bronze lions for the building's access stairway in a more realistic manner.[10]

See also

Notes

  1. ^
  2. ^ José Luis Ábalos was expelled from PSOE in 2024.

References

  1. ^ Information about Parliamentary Groups – Congress of Deputies of Spain
  2. ^ "Which European country has the most female politicians?". The Economist. 3 May 2019. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Qué es el Congreso de los Diputados". Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  4. ^ "El Presidente del Congreso de los Diputados" [The President of the Congress of Deputies] (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  5. ^ "De las Funciones de la Mesa y sus miembros. (Arts. 30–35)". Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Funciones de la Secretaría General" (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Funciones de los Grupos Parlamentarios" (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  8. ^ "TITULO II. De los Grupos Parlamentarios" (in Spanish). Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  9. ^ a b Congress of Deputies. "Comisiones - Congreso de los Diputados" [Committees - Congress of Deputies]. www.congreso.es. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  10. ^ "Ponzano y Gascón, Ponciano". Gran Enciclopedia Aragonesa (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 May 2012.

40°24′57″N 3°41′48″W / 40.41583°N 3.69667°W / 40.41583; -3.69667

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Congress of Deputies
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