Spanish general election, 2011
|Most voted party in each autonomous community and province. Every province is a multi-member district for the Congress.|
The 2011 Spanish general election took place on Sunday, 20 November, 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. The Cortes were dissolved and the general election called by King Juan Carlos I on 26 September, at the request of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who had already announced his intention to call for a snap election on 28 July. Elections were not due until March 2012.
The election was held amid the ongoing Spanish financial crisis, and Zapatero's government's perceived failure to cope with the worsening situation of the country's economy resulted in the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) being swept from power in the worst defeat of a sitting government since 1982. The PSOE lost roughly 38% of its 2008 vote (4.3 out of 11.3 million) and garnered only 110 seats and 28.8% of the share – its worst result ever in a general election since the Spanish transition to democracy. In contrast, the opposition People's Party (PP) won a record 186 seats and 44.6% of the share and winning for the first time ever in the Andalusia region – which up until then had been won by the PSOE in every single general election.
The Congress of Deputies consists of 350 members, elected in 50 multi-member districts using the D'Hondt method, with Ceuta and Melilla electing one member each using plurality voting. Each constituency is entitled to an initial minimum of two seats, with the remaining 248 seats being allocated among the 50 provinces in proportion to their populations.
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—for none of the above) can be considered. Under articles 12 and 68 of the constitution, the minimum voting age is 18.
Elections to the Senate take place under a limited vote system, in which each of the 47 peninsular provinces is assigned 4 seats, while the larger islands on Baleares and Canarias - Mallorca, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife - are assigned 3 seats each, and the smaller islands - Menorca, Ibiza-Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma - one each; Ceuta and Melilla are assigned 2 seats each, for a total of 208 directly elected seats. In constituencies with 4 Senators, electors may vote for up to 3 candidates; in those with 2 or 3 Senators, for up to 2 candidates; and for one candidate in single member constituencies. Electors vote for individual candidates: those attaining the largest number of votes in each constituency are elected for a 4-year term of office. In addition, the legislative assemblies of the self-governing or autonomous communities into which the provinces of Spain are grouped are entitled to appoint at least one Senator each, as well as one Senator for every million inhabitants.
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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.
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. 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). 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. 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.
- 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).
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. 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. 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. 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." This decision made this election the 7th early election since Spain's transition to democracy.
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:
- 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. 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 Cortes to obtain the signatures of 0.1% of registered electors per district they are running in. 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.
- Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE): "Fight for what you want (Pelea por lo que quieres)"
- People's Party (PP): "Join the change (Súmate al cambio)"
- United Left (IU): "Rebel! (¡Rebélate!)"
- Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD): "Every vote counts (Cada voto vale)"
Congress of Deputies
|People's Party (PP)||10,866,566||44.63||+4.69||186||+32|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)||7,003,511||28.76||−15.11||110||−59|
|United Left-The Greens: Plural Left (IU-LV)||1,686,040||6.92||+3.15||11||+9|
|Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD)||1,143,225||4.70||+3.51||5||+4|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)||1,015,691||4.17||+1.14||16||+6|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV)||324,317||1.33||+0.14||5||−1|
|Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)||256,985||1.06||−0.10||3||±0|
|Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG)||184,037||0.76||−0.07||2||±0|
|Canarian Coalition-New Canarias (CC-NC-PNC)||143,881||0.59||−0.24||2||±0|
|Commitment Coalition-EQUO (Compromís-Q)||125,306||0.51||+0.38||1||+1|
|Animal Rights Party (PACMA)||102,144||0.42||+0.25||0||±0|
|Asturian Forum (FAC)||99,473||0.41||New||1||+1|
|Blank Seats (Eb)||97,673||0.40||+0.34||0||±0|
|Andalusian Party (PA)||76,999||0.32||+0.05||0||±0|
|Platform for Catalonia (PxC)||59,949||0.25||+0.24||0||±0|
|Regionalist Party of Cantabria (PRC)||44,010||0.18||New||0||±0|
|Yes to the Future (GBai)||42,415||0.17||−0.07||1||±0|
|For a Fairer World (PUM+J)||27,210||0.11||+0.02||0||±0|
|Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE)||26,254||0.11||+0.03||0||±0|
|Pirates of Catalonia (Pirata.cat)||21,876||0.09||New||0||±0|
|Communist Unification of Spain (UCE)||15,869||0.07||New||0||±0|
|Humanist Party (PH)||10,132||0.04||±0.00||0||±0|
|Spain 2000 (E-2000)||9,266||0.04||+0.01||0||±0|
|Internationalist Solidarity and Self-Management (SAIn)||6,863||0.03||+0.01||0||±0|
|Pirate Party (Pirata)||3,426||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Canarian Nationalist Alternative (ANC)||3,180||0.01||+0.01||0||±0|
|Spanish Phalanx (FE-JONS)||2,898||0.01||−0.04||0||±0|
|Liberal Democratic Centre (CDL)||2,848||0.01||±0.00||0||±0|
|Castilian Party (PCAS)||2,431||0.01||−0.01||0||±0|
|United by Valencia (UxV)||2,210||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Individual Freedom Party (P-LIB)||2,065||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Regionalist Party of the Leonese Country (PREPAL)||2,058||0.01||+0.01||0||±0|
|Internationalist Socialist Workers' Party (POSI)||2,007||0.01||−0.02||0||±0|
|National Democracy (DN)||1,867||0.01||−0.04||0||±0|
|Regionalist Party for Eastern Andalusia (PRAO)||1,784||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Caballas Coalition (Caballas)||1,712||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Twenty-first Convergence (C.XXI)||1,443||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Votes cast / turnout||24,666,441||68.94||−4.91|
|Source: Ministry of the Interior|
|People's Party (PP)||136||+35||166|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)||48||−40||66|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)||9||+5||13|
|Catalan Agreement of Progress (PSC-ICV-EUiA)||7||−5||10|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV)||4||+2||5|
|Canarian Coalition-New Canarias (CC-NC-PNC)||1||±0||2|
|Asturian Forum (FAC)||0||±0||1|
|Votes cast / turnout||24,483,672||68.43||−6.06|
The Spanish Senate at the time of the 2011 election was composed by 208 directly-elected seats and 58 seats appointed by the regional parliaments of the autonomous communities when a new Parliament resulting from a regional election convenes. The appointment process of these seats depended on the political composition of those regional assemblies, and could change each time regional elections were held. A summary of the Senate composition evolution throughout the 2011−2015 legislature can be found in the table below, showing changes due to seat appointment variation as a result of regional elections.
|PP and allies||
|PSOE and allies||
|IU and allies||
|Source(s): Historia Electoral|
Results by region
Overview of results
With an overall voter turnout of 68.9%, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party suffered its worst defeat in a general election ever, while it also was one of the worst electoral performances for a ruling party in Spain since the UCD defeat in 1982. The People's Party was able to form a majority government with 186 out of 350 seats (actually 185, since 1 of them was obtained in coalition with the regional Navarrese People's Union), after almost eight years in opposition. The PSOE went on to lose in all but two provinces (Barcelona and Seville), while losing in both Andalusia and Catalonia, which up to that point had been carried by the PSOE in every general election.
Minoritary national parties, such as United Left and Union, Progress and Democracy, benefitted from the PSOE collapse, winning 11 (2 in the previous parliament) and 5 seats (1) respectively. It was also the first election in which almost all other parties won votes; of all parties with representation in the Congress of Deputies, only Republican Left of Catalonia and Geroa Bai lost votes compared to 2008. The Basque Nationalist Party lost 1 seat despite scoring higher than in 2008, but this came as a result of Amaiur's irruption, with 6 out of its 7 seats being elected in the Basque Country.
PSOE's electoral result, with 28.76% of the vote, would remain the worst electoral performance for a sitting government in a nationwide-held election since 1977 until the European Parliament election, 2014 two and a half years later, when the PP obtained 26.09% of the vote.
Investiture voting for Mariano Rajoy Brey (PP)
Absolute majority: 176/350
|Yes||PP (185), UPN (1), FAC (1)|
|No||PSOE (110), CiU (16), IU (11), UPyD (5), ERC (3), BNG (2), Compromís (1), GBai (1)|
|Abstentions||Amaiur (7), PNV (5), CC-NC (2)|
|Source: Historia Electoral|
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- 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