Spanish general election, 2004
|This article is outdated. (December 2010)|
|Most voted party in each province. Every province is a multi-member district for the Congress.|
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The 2004 Spanish general election was held on 14 March 2004 to elect the 9th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. At stake were all 350 seats to the Congress of Deputies and 208 of 259 seats to the Senate.
The governing People's Party (PP) was led into the campaign by Mariano Rajoy, successor to outgoing Prime Minister José María Aznar. The election result took many by surprise, as polling leading up to the day of the election had shown the People's Party under leader Rajoy to be consistently ahead. The electoral outcome was heavily influenced by the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings and the PP government's handling of the attacks (maintaining the theory of ETA's responsibility even when evidence pointed to Islamist extremist groups), which resulted in large demonstrations on the days before the election.
The day after the election, Zapatero announced his intention to form a minority PSOE government, without a coalition, saying in a radio interview: "the implicit mandate of the people is for us to form a minority government negotiating accords on each issue with other parliamentary groups". Two minor left-wing parties, Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and IU, immediately announced their intention to support Zapatero's government.
This was the eighth general election since the restoration of democratic government in 1978, or the ninth if the elections to a constitutional assembly in 1977 are included. Each of Spain's autonomous communities elects a number of deputies and senators in rough proportion to its population. The smaller autonomous communities (such as La Rioja) form a single electoral district (a circumscription). The larger autonomous communities (such as Catalonia) are divided into several circumscriptions.
All 350 deputies are elected on party lists, by roughly proportional representation in each electoral district. The method used to allocate the seats is the D'Hondt method, which favours larger parties over smaller ones, and concentrated minorities over scattered ones.
In the Senate, each of Spain's 50 provinces (except in the Canary and Balearic Islands) elects four Senators regardless of population. This results in under-representation for the large urban circumscriptions of Madrid and Barcelona, and over-representation for the conservative provinces of Castile and Galicia. Further, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands elect additional senators (since circumscriptions consist of the island governments rather than the provinces), and the small autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish enclaves on the coast of Morocco) elect two Senators each. The islands and the enclaves are PP strongholds. The net effect of this system is to advantage the PP at the expense of the PSOE in the Senate. In the senate elections, voters can cast votes for up to three different people. Voters tend to cast all their votes for members of the same party, with the result that most provinces allocate 3 senators to the party with the strongest support, and 1 senator to the second party.
The Congress of Deputies must appoint the prime minister within two months of convening on 2 April. Although constitutionally the King, as head of state, submits a proposed prime minister to the approval of the Congress, in practice the King exercises no discretion. Each of the candidates, starting with the candidate of the largest party, comes before the Congress for two investiture votes, the first by majority and the second by plurality. Typically, the leader of the largest bloc becomes Prime Minister of Spain, unless a coalition of different parties has a majority of seats.
At the 2000 general election, the People's Party won a majority of seats in Congress with 183 seats, the Socialists won 125, the Catalan nationalist party Convergence and Unity won 15 and the United Left (a coalition around the Communist Party) won 8. Minor parties won the remaining 19 seats.
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)||11,026,163||42.59||+8.43||164||+39|
|People's Party (PP)||9,763,144||37.71||−6.81||148||−35|
|United Left (IU)||1,284,081||4.96||−1.00||5||−4|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)||835,471||3.23||−0.96||10||−5|
|Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)||652,196||2.52||+1.68||8||+7|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV)||420,980||1.63||+0.10||7||±0|
|Canarian Coalition (CC)||235,221||0.91||−0.16||3||−1|
|Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG)||208,688||0.81||−0.51||2||−1|
|Aragonese Union (CHA)||94,252||0.36||+0.03||1||±0|
|Basque Solidarity (EA)||80,905||0.31||−0.12||1||±0|
|Yes to Navarre (NA-BAI)||61,045||0.24||New||1||+1|
|Votes cast / turnout||26,155,436||75.66||+6.95|
|Source: Ministry of the Interior|
In the Congress of Deputies, the PP vote fell by 6.9 percent, and the party lost 35 seats. The PSOE vote rose by 8.5 percent, bringing a gain of 39 seats. On the left, the IU (a coalition led by the Communist Party of Spain), lost four of its nine seats, but the left-wing Catalan party ERC gained seven seats. The conservative Catalan nationalist party, Convergence and Union, which in the recent past has been allied with the PP, lost five of its 15 seats.
The PSOE's victory was celebrated in the street outside the party's headquarters in Calle Ferraz with shouts of "No war!" and "How happy we are, to live without Aznar", but also "Zapatero, don't fail us!". Consistent with the PSOE's long-standing opposition to the Iraq war, Rodríguez Zapatero had promised during the election campaign to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by June. Zapatero withdrew the troops shortly after taking office, a decision he justified on his belief that the United Nations was not likely to assume responsibility for Iraq after the U.S.-led occupation formally ended at the end of June, which was his criterion for allowing troops to stay. Subsequent events, indeed, bore out his prediction.
A feature of the result was the increased representation for the ERC, a minor left-wing party which has formed a coalition government with the PSOE in Catalonia. The Republican Left's leader, Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira, had recently held meetings with the Basque separatist group ETA in France, a revelation which had forced his exit from the recently formed Catalan regional government and had become a campaign issue in the general election.
On April 16, PSOE's candidate José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero obtained an absolute majority in the investiture voting held in the Congress of Deputies, with the support of 183 votes: those of his party alongside five other political forces (the largest number of supporting parties for a candidate to the presidency) and was thus invested Prime Minister. This was the only investiture voting to date in which only a party, the PP, voted against a PM candidate.
|Yes||PSOE (164), ERC (8), IU (5), CC (3), BNG (2), CHA (1)||183|
|Abstentions||CiU (10), EAJ-PNV (7), EE (1), Na-Bai (1)||19|
- "Rajoy asume el legado de Aznar tras ser ratificado como candidato del PP a La Moncloa". El País. 2 September 2003.
- (El Mundo - results)
- Votaciones de investidura, mociones de confianza, mociones de censura desde 1979 - Historia Electoral
- Chari, Raj (November 2004). "The 2004 Spanish Election: Terrorism as a Catalyst for Change?". West European Politics 27 (5): 954–963. doi:10.1080/0140238042000283247.
- Spanish Interior Ministry elections website
- People's Party
- Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
- Convergence and Unity
- Republican Left of Catalonia
- United Left
- Basque Nationalist Party
- Canarian Coalition