Spanish general election, 2011
|Provincial results map for the Congress of Deputies|
The 2011 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 20 November 2011, to elect the 10th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as 208 of 266 seats in the Senate.
The election was held amid the effects of a harsh financial crisis and José Luis Rodríguez 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 for a sitting Spanish 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 ever result 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, scoring a clean sweep across the country by winning in every region except for Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Aside from the PP, the main beneficiaries of the PSOE's debacle were United Left (IU), with its best result since 1996; Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), which obtained more than 1 million votes and won 5 seats; Convergence and Union (CiU), which recovered from its negative results in both 2004 and 2008 and, for the first time in democracy, won a general election in Catalonia; and the abertzale left-coalition Amaiur, which won the most seats in the Basque Country region.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Electoral system
- 3 Background
- 4 Opinion polling
- 5 Date of the election
- 6 Campaign
- 7 Results
- 8 Aftermath
- 9 References
- 10 External links
This bicameral system was regarded as asymmetric. Legislative initiative belonged to both chambers—as well as to the Government—but the Congress had greater legislative power than the Senate. Only the Congress had the ability to grant or revoke confidence from a Prime Minister, and it could override Senate vetoes to an initiative by an absolute majority of votes. Nonetheless, the Senate possessed a few exclusive, yet limited in number functions—such as its role in constitutional amendment—which were not subject to the Congress' override.
This system, enshrined by the Spanish Constitution of 1978, was envisaged to grant political stability to governments as well as to reinforce the Prime Minister's position, providing for a constructive vote of no confidence that could only be exercised by the Congress. It also implemented an enhanced protection against constitutional amendment, which would require the involvement of both chambers, as well as a special process with higher approval thresholds and stricter requirements for overall constitutional reforms or amendments on the so-called "protected provisions".
The Prime Minister had the ability to dissolve the chambers at any given time—either jointly or separately—and call a snap election; otherwise, elected deputies and senators served for four year terms, starting from election day. Additionally, the chambers' dissolution was automatically triggered if investiture attempts failed to elect a Prime Minister within a two month-period from the first ballot.
Voting was on the basis of universal suffrage, with all nationals over eighteen and in the full enjoyment of all political rights entitled to vote. Concurrently, nationals meeting the previous criteria and not involved in any cause of ineligibility were eligible for both the Congress and the Senate. Groups of electors were required to obtain the signatures of at least 1% of registered electors in a particular district in order to be able to field candidates. Additionally, changes in the electoral law in 2011 introduced a similar requirement for parties and coalitions left out from both chambers in the previous election, which were now required to obtain the signatures of at least 0.1% of registered electors in the districts they intended to contest.
For the Congress of Deputies, 348 seats were allocated to 50 multi-member districts—each constituency corresponding to a province—using the D'Hondt method and a closed list proportional representation, with Ceuta and Melilla electing one member each using plurality voting for a total of 350 seats. Each district was entitled to an initial minimum of two seats, with the remaining 248 seats allocated among the 50 provinces in proportion to their populations. A threshold of 3% of valid votes—which included blank ballots—was applied in each constituency, with parties not reaching the threshold not entitled to enter the seat distribution.
For the Senate, each of the 47 peninsular constituencies was allocated four seats. For insular provinces, such as the Balearic and the Canary Islands, districts were the islands themselves, with the larger—Majorca, Gran Canaria and Tenerife—being allocated three seats each, and the smaller—Menorca, Ibiza-Formentera, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, El Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma—one each. Ceuta and Melilla elected two seats each, for a total of 208 directly elected seats, using an open list partial block voting. Instead of voting for parties, electors would vote for individual candidates. In districts electing four seats, electors could vote for up to three candidates; in those with two or three seats, for up to two candidates; and for one candidate in single-member constituencies. Additionally, autonomous communities could appoint at least one senator each and were entitled to one additional seat per each million inhabitants.
The 2008 general election had resulted in a victory for the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which nonetheless fell 7 seats short of an absolute majority. The Socialists had been re-elected on a full employment platform, despite the Spanish economy showing signs of fatigue and economic slowdown after a decade of growth. As a result, Zapatero was sworn in as Prime Minister of Spain for a second term in office in April 2008. Zapatero's second term would be dominated by the 2008–11 economic and financial crisis.
2008–09: First years
The effects of the economic crisis in Spain started to become apparent at the beginning of Zapatero's second term. The first measure adopted by the newly elected government to mitigate the economic slowdown was an injection of €10 billion into the Spanish economy, of which €6 billion were to fulfill a €400 tax reduction as part of the PSOE 2008 election pledges. Over the next months the government was forced to lower its economic growth forecast for 2008 from 3.1% to 2.3%, then to 1.6%. The government also had to cope with a transport strike on 9–15 June, motivated by a rapid increase in oil prices. Zapatero initially refused to publicly acknowledge the existence of the economic crisis, to which he referred as "intense temporary slowdown" or "economic weaknesses". On 23 June 2008, Zapatero's cabinet adopted an "austerity plan" intended to save €250 million—consisting of a 70% reduction in the public job offer and a salary freeze for senior public servants—as well as financial stimulus measures—injection of €35 billion to SMEs and €2.5 billion annually until 2010 to improve the efficiency in the hotel sector—in order to soften the impact of job losses and rising oil prices, with Zapatero finally acknowledging the crisis during an interview on 8 July. Meanwhile, Martinsa-Fadesa bankruptcy filling in July 2008 as a result of the Spanish property bubble bursting turned into Spain's biggest ever corporate default.
Job destruction in Spain became increasingly noticeable: by August 2008 2.5 million were already unemployed, the highest figure in 10 years. By December 2008, Spain would become the country with the highest job destruction rate in the world, with unemployment nearing 3 million. In October 2008, the government announced a €100 billion guarantee for bank debts and the creation of a €30 billion worth fund—extendable to €50 billion—to purchase 'healthy' assets from banks and savings banks "to ensure the Spanish market liquidity". From November 2008 to January 2009, the government proposed a €50 billion stimulus plan—with €8 billion destined to public investment in municipalities—expected to create 300,000 jobs throughout 2009, which was later criticised for its spending unsustainability and for creating "unproductive" jobs. In Q4 2008 the Spanish economy officially went into recession after a GDP fall of 1.1%—having already fallen by 0.3% on Q3 2008—putting an end to 15 years of uninterrupted economic growth.
On 28 March 2009, the Spanish government launched a €9 billion bailout to rescue Caja Castilla La Mancha, the first Spanish savings bank to be intervened during the crisis, to be followed by CajaSur in 2010, the nationalization of CAM, Unnim, CatalunyaCaixa and Novagalicia Banco in 2011 and the intervention and nationalization of Banco de Valencia in 2011–12. As part of the bank restructuring, the FOBR was created in June 2009 to preside over the mergers and acquisitions of the failing savings banks. In April 2009, Pedro Solbes was replaced as Spain's Economy and Finance Minister by the low-profile Elena Salgado as part of a major cabinet reshuffle, in a move seen as Zapatero seeking to take more direct control of economic policy himself.
By Q2 2009, unemployment had grown to 17.9%—more than 4 million unemployed—and the GDP had fallen by 4.2%. This prompted Zapatero to announce on 28 August 2009 that the 2010 budget would include a "limited and temporary" tax increase worth €16 billion—dubbed by many as the largest tax rise in history—to tackle the revenue fall and spending increase resulting from the crisis. Further measures, such as the suppression of the €400 tax reduction and a VAT increase from 16% to 18%—in its standard rate—and from 7% to 8%—in its reduced rate—were announced in the following weeks. The end of 2009 would see unemployment climbing to 18.8%, with public deficit soaring—11.4% of GDP—and forcing the government to approve on 29 January 2010 a €50 billion worth-savings plan for the 2010–13 period, cutting all public spending except for social benefits, welfare state policies and those involving a production model renewal.
2010: Zapatero's U-turn
However, despite the government's efforts, the economic situation kept worsening. On 5 February, Spain's risk premium reached the 100 basis point-mark in a black week for Madrid Stock Exchange—with the IBEX 35 falling by 9.3%. By early May 2010, unemployment had reached the 20% mark for the first time since the 1993 economic crisis, while the crisis in Greece, threatening to engulf the remained of the eurozone, caused the risk premium to rise dramatically by 60% to 170 basis points and the Madrid Stock Exchange to fall by 10%. As a result, Zapatero announced a €15 billion austerity package on 12 May aimed at preventing the country's default. Among the adopted measures were a cut of 5% in public wages, a pension freezing for 2011, cuts into dependency spending and the removal of the €2,500 birth allowance, among others. Zapatero's U-turn, breaching a previous pledge not to cut social spending, caused his and the PSOE's popularity ratings to plummet in opinion polls.
On 9 September 2010, the PSOE government approved a labor reform, which included suspension of collective agreements during economic downturns, a lower redundancy pay in cases of wrongful dismissal—from 45 to 33 days per year worked—or cheaper dismissals for companies facing losses, among others. The reform, coupled with the cut in public wages and the pension freeze, provoked the Socialist government to face its first general strike on 29 September. In order to tackle dropping poll numbers, a major cabinet reshuffle took place on 20 October, resulting in a number of ministries being disbanded and long-time First Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega being replaced by Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. The risk premium kept growing and peaked at 270 basis points by the end of November. Zapatero's government announced a new austerity package on 1 December—including the removal of a €426 allowance for long-term unemployed and the privatizations of AENA and the Lotteries—but also a tax cut for SMEs. In the following weeks, Zapatero would also announce an increase of the retirement age from 65 to 67 to be applied "flexibly and progressively" until 2027.
Run up to election
Date of the election
|26 September 2011||The Council of Ministers convenes to approve the decree ordering the Cortes Generales' dissolution and the calling of the general election on the advice of the Prime Minister. Subsequently, the decree is ratified by the King.|
|27 September 2011||The decree enters into force by its publication in the BOE. Parliament is officially dissolved and the general election is called. Official start of the electoral period.|
|7 October 2011||Deadline for parties intending to contest the election in coalition with other parties to communicate it to the appropriate electoral boards.|
|12–17 October 2011||Time limit for parties intending to contest the election to submit their candidacies to the Electoral Board.|
|19 October 2011||Submitted candidacies are provisionally published in the BOE.|
|22 October 2011||Deadline for Spanish electors residing abroad to apply for voting.|
|22–26 October 2011||Sweepstakes to appoint members of the polling stations.|
|25 October 2011||Candidacies for parties, coalitions and groups of voters standing for election are proclaimed and published in the BOE after a period of notification and amendment of possible irregularities in 20–22 November 2015.|
|4 November 2011||Official start of the electoral campaign at 00:00 CET (UTC+01:00).|
|10 November 2011||Deadline for electors residing in Spain to apply for postal voting.|
|15–19 November 2011||Legal ban on opinion polling publication in Spanish territory.|
|18 November 2011||Official end of the electoral campaign at 24:00 CET (UTC+01:00).|
|19 November 2011||Reflection day.|
|20 November 2011||Election Day. Polls open from 09:00 CET to 20:00 CET. Provisional vote count officially starting from 21:00 CET. From this day, the incumbent government assumes caretaker functions until a new government is formed.|
|13 December 2011||The elected Congress and Senate convene.
Party manifestos and slogans
|Party/alliance||Manifesto (external link)||Campaign slogan(s)|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)||An Electoral Manifesto to Win the Future||"Fight for what you want".|
|People's Party (PP)||What Spain Needs||"Join the change"|
|United Left (IU)||Electoral Proposals||"Rebel!"|
|Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD)||My Vote Counts||"Each vote counts"|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)||CiU Electoral Manifesto||"More for Catalonia"|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV)||Working for the Basque Country in Madrid||"For the Basque Country" & "The Basque Country cans"|
|Amaiur (Amaiur)||Amaiur Commitments||"Bridging"|
|Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)||The Republic of Yes||"We Want the Republic of Yes"|
|Spanish general election debates, 2011|
|Name Invited Participant. N Non-invitee. A Absent invitee.|
|7 November||TV Academy||Manuel Campo
Congress of Deputies
|People's Party (PP)1||10,866,566||44.63||+4.52||186||+32|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)||7,003,511||28.76||–15.11||110||–59|
|United Left–The Greens: Plural Left (IU–LV)2||1,686,040||6.92||+3.00||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 (esquerra)||256,985||1.06||–0.10||3||±0|
|Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG)||184,037||0.76||–0.07||2||±0|
|Canarian Coalition–New Canaries–Canarian Nationalist Party (CC–NC–PNC)4||143,881||0.59||–0.24||2||±0|
|Commitment Coalition–Equo (Compromís–Q)5||125,306||0.51||+0.39||1||+1|
|Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA)||102,144||0.42||+0.25||0||±0|
|Asturias Forum (FAC)||99,473||0.41||New||1||+1|
|Blank Seats (EB)||97,673||0.40||+0.38||0||±0|
|Andalusian Party (PA)6||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)7||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|
|Parties with less than 0.1% of the vote||138,493||0.57||—||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 Falange of the JONS (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)8||2,431||0.01||–0.01||0||±0|
|United for 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|
|XXI Convergence (C.XXI)||1,443||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Unity of the People (UP)||1,138||0.00||±0.00||0||±0|
|Convergence for Extremadura (CEx)||1,090||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Andecha Astur (AA)||1,087||0.00||–0.01||0||±0|
|Citizens of Democratic Centre (CCD)||1,074||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Citizens' Action for Málaga (ACIMA)||966||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Family and Life Party (PFyV)||829||0.04||–0.04||0||±0|
|Death to the System (+MAS+)||791||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Toledo Independent Citizens' Union (UCIT)||785||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Let us Give the Change (DeC)||778||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Centre and Democracy Forum (CyD)||720||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Regionalist Unity of Castile and León (URCL)||709||0.00||±0.00||0||±0|
|Party for the Regeneration of Democracy in Spain (PRDE)||678||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Internet Party (Internet)||603||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Left Republican Party–Republicans (PRE–R)||419||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Enough is Enough, Open Grouping of Political Parties (Basta Ya)||380||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Constitutional and Democratic Party (PDyC)||304||0.00||New||0||±0|
|The Greens–Green Group (LV–GV)||293||0.00||–0.12||0||±0|
|Democratic Hygiene (HD)||206||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Socialists for Teruel (SxT)||169||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Navarrese and Spanish Right (DNE)||0||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Votes cast / turnout||24,666,441||68.94||–4.91|
|Source: Ministry of the Interior, Historia Electoral|
|Won||+/−||Not up||Total seats|
|People's Party (PP)[a]||136||+35||30||166|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)||48||–40||18||66|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)||9||+5||4||13|
|Agreement for Catalonia Progress (PSC–ICV–EUiA)[b]||7||–2||3||10|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV)||4||+2||1||5|
|Republican Left (esquerra)||0||–3||—||0|
|Canarian Coalition–New Canaries–Canarian Nationalist Party (CC–NC–PNC)||1||±0||1||2|
|Asturias Forum (FAC)||0||±0||1||1|
|Source(s): Ministry of the Interior, Historia Electoral|
With an overall voter turnout of 68.9%—the lowest in a decade—the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) suffered its worst ever defeat in a general election, while also scoring one of the worst electoral performances for a ruling party in Spain since the UCD collapse in the 1982 election. The People's Party (PP) was able to win an historic absolute majority with 186 out of 350 seats—the largest obtained by a party since 1982—after almost eight years in opposition. The PSOE went on to finish below first place in all but two provinces—Barcelona and Seville—while also losing both Andalusia and Catalonia, which up to that point had been carried by the PSOE in every general election. The 2011 Spanish election marked the continuation of a string of severe government election losses across European countries since the start of the 2007–08 financial crisis, including Iceland, Greece, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Ireland or Portugal.
Minoritary national parties, such as United Left (IU) and Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), benefitted greatly from the PSOE collapse, winning 11 and 5 seats respectively—2 and 1 in the previous parliament. This was the first time since the 1989 election than more than one of the smaller nationwide-contesting parties obtained more than 1 million votes in a general election, as well as enough seats to form parliamentary groups on their own right. The PSOE collapse also resulted in nearly all parties winning parliamentary presence in the Congress of Deputies increasing their vote shares—only Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Geroa Bai (GBai) lost votes compared to 2008. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) 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.
Convergence and Union (CiU), the party federation formed by Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) and Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC), was elected to an historic general election victory in the region of Catalonia. The Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC), PSOE's sister party in the region—which had, up until that point, been the first Catalan political force in every general election held since 1977—scored a poor showing by finishing in second place with 27% of the vote. The 2011 election would be the last time both parties would dominate the Catalan political landscape in a general election; the next election, held on 20 December 2015, would see the alliance between CDC and UDC broken and the PSC being crushed to third place regionally by both the En Comú Podem alliance and ERC.
In terms of vote share, PSOE's electoral result, with 28.76%, would remain the worst electoral performance for a sitting Spanish government in a nationwide-held election since 1982 until the European Parliament election, 2014 held two and a half years later, when the PP obtained 26.09% of the share, and in a general election until 2015—the PP obtaining 28.71%.
|Candidate: Mariano Rajoy|
|Yes||PP (185), FAC (1), UPN (1)||
187 / 350
|No||PSOE (110), CiU (16), IU–ICV–CHA (11), UPyD (5), ERC (3), BNG (2),
Compromís (1), GBai (1)
149 / 350
|Abstentions||Amaiur (7), PNV (5), CC (2)||
14 / 350
|Source: Historia Electoral|
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- ""Fight for what you want", PSOE campaign slogan" (in Spanish). Europa Press. 2011-10-20.
- "'Join the change', PP slogan for the 20-N election" (in Spanish). Cadena SER. 2011-10-25.
- "IU encourages to overcome the PP-PSOE "dichotomy" with its "Rebel!" slogan" (in Spanish). Público. 2011-10-15.
- "For UPyD, 'each vote counts' and will fight to obtain the citizens' trust" (in Spanish). Huelva 24. 2011-11-04.
- "20-N: Duran launches his web, Twitter and Facebook and pre-campaign slogan '+ x cat'" (in Spanish). Europa Press. 2011-10-06.
- "The PNV wants to be the first Basque force in the Cortes Generales" (in Spanish). EITB. 2011-10-20.
- "Amaiur or the 'bridge' that aims to bring the abertzale left again into Congress" (in Spanish). RTVE. 2011-11-18.
- "Alfred Bosch: "We Want the Republic of Yes"" (in Spanish). esquerra.cat. 2011-10-26.
- Media related to Spanish general election, 2011 at Wikimedia Commons