Spanish general election, 2011

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Spanish general election, 2011
2008 ←
20 November 2011 → 2015

All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies and 208 (of the 266) seats in the Senate
176 seats needed for a majority in the Congress of Deputies
Opinion polls
Registered 35,779,491 Increase2.0%
Turnout 24,666,441 (68.9%)
Decrease4.9 pp
  First party Second party Third party
  Mariano Rajoy 2012 (cropped).jpg Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba 2012 (cropped).jpg CayoLaraIU2.jpg
Leader Mariano Rajoy Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba Cayo Lara
Leader since 2 September 2003 9 July 2011 14 December 2008
Leader's seat Madrid Madrid Madrid
Last election 154 seats, 39.9% 169 seats, 43.9% 2 seats, 3.8%
Seats won 186 110 11
Seat change Increase32 Decrease59 Increase9
Popular vote 10,866,566 7,003,511 1,686,040
Percentage 44.6% 28.8% 6.9%
Swing Increase4.7 pp Decrease15.1 pp Increase3.1 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Rosa Díez 2012 (cropped).jpg Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida 2011 (cropped).jpg Iñaki Antiguedad 2.jpg
Leader Rosa Díez Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida Iñaki Antigüedad
Party UPyD CiU Amaiur
Leader since 26 September 2007 2003 11 October 2011[1]
Leader's seat Madrid Barcelona Biscay
Last election 1 seats, 1.2% 10 seats, 3.0% Did not contest
Seats won 5 16 7
Seat change Increase4 Increase6 Increase7
Popular vote 1,143,225 1,015,691 334,498
Percentage 4.7% 4.2% 1.4%
Swing Increase3.5 pp Increase1.2 pp New party

Most voted party by autonomous community and province.

Prime Minister before election

Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero

Elected Prime Minister

Mariano Rajoy

The 2011 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 20 November 2011, to elect the 10th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. At stake were all 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies and 208 of 266 seats in the Senate. This was a snap election, since new elections were not due until March 2012.

The election was held amid the ongoing Spanish financial crisis, and José 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 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.[2]

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.


Electoral system[edit]

Congress of Deputies

The 350 members of the Congress of Deputies were elected in 50 multi-member districts using the D'Hondt method and a closed-list proportional representation. Ceuta and Melilla elected 1 member each using plurality voting. Each district was entitled to an initial minimum of 2 seats, with the remaining 248 seats being allocated among the 50 provinces in proportion to their populations. Only lists polling above 3% of the total vote in each district (which includes blank ballots—for none of the above) were entitled to enter the seat distribution.


For the Senate, each of the 47 peninsular provinces was assigned 4 seats. For insular provinces, such as Baleares and Canarias, districts are the islands themselves, with the larger — Mallorca, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife — being assigned 3 seats each, and the smaller — Menorca, Ibiza-Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma — 1 each. Ceuta and Melilla were assigned 2 seats each, for a total of 208 directly elected seats. In districts electing 4 seats, electors could vote for up to 3 candidates; in those with 2 or 3 seats, for up to 2 candidates; and for 1 candidate in single member constituencies. Electors would vote for individual candidates: those attaining the largest number of votes in each district would be elected for a 4-year term of office.

In addition, the legislative assemblies of the autonomous communities are entitled to appoint at least 1 senator each, as well as 1 senator for every million inhabitants, adding up a variable number of appointed seats to the directly-elected 208 senators.[3] This appointment usually did not take place at the same time that the general election, but when the autonomous communities held their elections.


Dual membership of both chambers of the Cortes or of the Cortes and regional assemblies was prohibited. Active judges, magistrates, ombudsmen, serving military personnel, active police officers and members of constitutional and electoral tribunals were also ineligible,[4] as well as CEOs or equivalent leaders of state monopolies and public bodies, such as the Spanish state broadcaster RTVE.[5] Additionally, under the Political Parties Law, June 2002, parties and individual candidates may be prevented from standing by the Spanish Supreme Court, if they were judicially perceived to discriminate against people on the basis of ideology, religion, beliefs, nationality, race, gender or sexual orientation, foment or organise violence as a means of achieving political objectives or support or compliment the actions of "terrorist organisations".[6]

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.[7]

Parties and coalitions of different parties which had registered with the Electoral Commission could present lists of candidates. Groups of electors which had not registered with the commission could also present lists, provided that they obtained the signatures of 1% of registered electors in a particular district. Since 30 January 2011, political parties without representation in any of the Chambers in the previous general election were required to obtain the signatures of 0.1% of registered electors in the districts they want to stand for in order to present lists for those districts.[5][8]

General election[edit]


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 party Federal Committee that he would not stand for re-election at the scheduled 2012 election.[9] His party's performance in opinion polls, as well as Zapatero's own approval ratings, were in record-lows after Zapatero's had changed his economic policy on May 2010, when his government issued a series of greatly unpopular austerity packages and budget cuts in order to curb the country's high public deficit during the ongoing Spanish financial crisis.[10] Zapatero's negative electoral expectatives from that point onwards, as well as the quick deterioration of Spain's economic situation (with a 20% unemployment rate), are thought 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.[11][12] 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 local and regional elections.

The end of the legislature was initially scheduled for March 2012, but on 28 July 2011 Zapatero announced his intention to call for a snap election on 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."[13] This decision made this election the 7th snap election since Spain's transition to democracy.[14]

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 on 25 March 2012.

Political parties[edit]

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:[15]

At the 2008 general election the only two other nationally represented parties which won seats were United Left and Union, Progress and Democracy.[15] 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.[16] For an updated list please see the following link.

Campaign slogans[edit]

The electoral campaign started at 12:00 AM on 4 November with the traditional pasting of party's posters.[17]

Opinion polls[edit]



Congress of Deputies[edit]


Summary of the 20 November 2011 Spanish Congress of Deputies election results
Spanish Congress of Deputies election, 2011 results.svg
Party Vote Seats
Votes  % ±pp Won +/−
People's Party (PP) 10,866,566 44.63 Increase4.69 186 Increase32
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 7,003,511 28.76 Decrease15.11 110 Decrease59
United Left-The Greens: Plural Left (IU-LV) 1,686,040 6.92 Increase3.15 11 Increase9
Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) 1,143,225 4.70 Increase3.51 5 Increase4
Convergence and Union (CiU) 1,015,691 4.17 Increase1.14 16 Increase6
Amaiur (Amaiur) 334,498 1.37 New 7 Increase7
Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) 324,317 1.33 Increase0.14 5 Decrease1
Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) 256,985 1.06 Decrease0.10 3 ±0
Equo (Equo) 216,748 0.89 New 0 ±0
Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) 184,037 0.76 Decrease0.07 2 ±0
Canarian Coalition-New Canarias (CC-NCa-PNC)[a] 143,881 0.59 Decrease0.24 2 ±0
Commitment Coalition-Equo (Compromís-Q) 125,306 0.51 Increase0.39 1 Increase1
Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA) 102,144 0.42 Increase0.25 0 ±0
Asturias Forum (FAC) 99,473 0.41 New 1 Increase1
Blank Seats (Eb) 97,673 0.40 Increase0.38 0 ±0
Andalusian Party (PA) 76,999 0.32 Increase0.05 0 ±0
Platform for Catalonia (PxC) 59,949 0.25 Increase0.24 0 ±0
Regionalist Party of Cantabria (PRC) 44,010 0.18 New 0 ±0
Yes to the Future (GBai) 42,415 0.17 Decrease0.07 1 ±0
For a Fairer World (PUM+J) 27,210 0.11 Increase0.02 0 ±0
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE) 26,254 0.11 Increase0.03 0 ±0
Blank ballots 333,461 1.37 Increase0.26
Total 24,348,886 100.00 350 ±0
Valid votes 24,348,886 98.71 Decrease0.65
Invalid votes 317,555 1.29 Increase0.65
Votes cast / turnout 24,666,441 68.94 Decrease4.91
Abstentions 11,113,050 31.06 Increase4.91
Registered voters 35,779,491
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Vote share
Blank ballots
Parliamentary seats

Results by district[edit]



Summary of the 20 November 2011 Spanish Senate election results
Spanish Senate election, 2011 results.svg
Party Vote Seats
Votes  % +/− Won +/− Total +/−
People's Party (PP) 136 Increase35 166 Increase41
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 48 Decrease40 66 Decrease39
Convergence and Union (CiU) 9 Increase5 13 Increase5
Catalan Agreement of Progress (PSC-ICV-EUiA) 7 Decrease5 10 Decrease5
Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) 4 Increase2 5 Increase2
Amaiur (Amaiur) 3 Increase3 3 Increase3
Canarian Coalition-New Canarias (CC-NCa-PNC) 1 ±0 2 ±0
Asturias Forum (FAC) 0 ±0 1 ±0
Others 0 ±0 0 Decrease3
Blank ballots 1,264,947 5.36 Increase3.30
Total 23,578,950 100.00 208 ±0 266 Increase4
Valid votes 23,578,950 96.30 Decrease1.41
Invalid votes 904,722 3.70 Increase1.41
Votes cast / turnout 24,483,672 68.43 Decrease6.06
Abstentions 11,295,819 31.57 Increase6.06
Registered voters 35,779,491
Parliamentary seats

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 as such, it could change each time regional elections were held.


Overview of results[edit]

With an overall voter turnout of 68.9%, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party suffered its worst defeat in a general election ever, while also performing one of the worst electoral performances for a ruling party in Spain since the UCD defeat in 1982 and until the next election in 2015. 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 1982 until the European Parliament election, 2014 two and a half years later, when the PP obtained 26.09% of the vote, and in a general election until 2015 (the PP obtaining 28.72%).

Investiture vote[edit]

First round: 20 December 2011
Absolute majority (176/350) required
Candidate: Mariano Rajoy
Choice Vote
Parties Votes
YesYYes PP (185), FAC (1), UPN (1)
187 / 350
No PSOE (110), CiU (16), IU-LV (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

On 20 December 2011, Mariano Rajoy was elected in the first round of voting as Prime Minister with an absolute majority of votes (187 out of 350) in the Congress.


  1. ^ Compared to the Canarian Coalition+New Canarias results in the 2008 election.


  1. ^ "Iñaki Antigüedad será el cabeza de lista de Amaiur por Bizkaia el 20-N". Deia. 2011-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Rajoy logra para el PP una mayoría histórica con 186 diputados y el PSOE se hunde con 110". RTVE. 20 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "General Aspects of the Electoral System". 
  4. ^ "The Spanish Constitution of 1978". 
  5. ^ a b "Law governing electoral procedures". Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Law regarding registration of political parties". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  7. ^ "OSCE observers task force report on 2008 Spanish election" (PDF). Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe OSCE. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  8. ^ Electoral Law
  9. ^ "Zapatero paves the way for a new leadership in the PSOE after withdrawing as candidate" (in Spanish). El País. 2011-04-11. 
  10. ^ "Zapatero gives a turn to his strategy with an unprecedent cut in public wages" (in Spanish). El País. 2010-05-13. 
  11. ^ "Rubalcaba, PSOE "de facto candidate" after applicants failed to gather enough guarantees" (in Spanish). ABC. 2011-06-13. 
  12. ^ "Rubalcaba says bye to Zapatero's ideas and style" (in Spanish). La Vanguardia. 2011-07-10. 
  13. ^ Ross, Emma (2011-07-29). "Spain's embattled prime minister calls early elections". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  14. ^ "Zapatero annouces the seventh snap election in democracy" (in Spanish). El País. 2011-07-29. 
  15. ^ a b Elections in Spain accessed 6 March 2011
  16. ^ Los partidos minoritarios dispondrán de 20 días para recoger firmas
  17. ^ "La campaña electoral starts this night with the traditional "paste of posters"". ABC. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  18. ^ "Pelea por lo que quieres", lema de campaña del PSOE
  19. ^ 'Súmate al cambio', lema del Partido Popular para las elecciones del 20-N
  20. ^ IU anima a superar la "dicotomía" PP-PSOE con su lema "Rebélate!"
  21. ^ Para UPyD, 'Cada voto vale' y luchará por conseguir la confianza de los ciudadanos