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Spanish general election, 2015

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Spanish general election, 2015

Spanish general election, 2015

On or before 20 December 2015

All 350 seats of 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
Leader Mariano Rajoy Pedro Sánchez TBD
Leader since 2 September 2003 26 July 2014 N/A
Last election 186 seats, 44.6% 110 seats, 28.8% 11 seats, 6.9%
Current seats 186 110 11
Seats needed Steady Increase66 Increase165

Leader Rosa Díez TBD[1] Mikel Errekondo
Party UPyD CiU Amaiur
Leader since 26 September 2007 N/A 16 May 2012[2]
Last election 5 seats, 4.7% 16 seats, 4.2% 7 seats, 1.4%
Current seats 5 16 7
Seats needed Increase171 Unable Unable

Incumbent Prime Minister

Mariano Rajoy

The next Spanish general election will be held on or before Sunday, 20 December 2015, as provided by the [4] It will open the 11th Legislature of Spain, to elect the 11th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. At stake will be all 350 seats to the Congress of Deputies and 208 of 266 seats to the Senate.

The ruling People's Party, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, will seek re-election for a second term in office.


Unlike other neighboring countries' practice, such as Portugal, Greece or Italy, it is not frequent in Spain that elections resulting in hung parliaments end in coalition governments at the national level (though it is more common in the autonomous communities' regional parliaments). Rather, the party with the most seats will form a minority government with the parliamentary support of other parties, relying on legislature pacts or, in the event of a party holding a working majority (not absolute but large enough to govern on its own right), ad hoc agreements and/or different forms of parliamentary alliances, in order to pass legislation through the Congress.

Electoral system

Voting is on the basis of universal suffrage in a secret ballot. The Congress of Deputies 350 members are elected in 50 multi-member districts using the D'Hondt method and a closed-list proportional representation. Ceuta and Melilla elect one member each using plurality voting. Each district 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. Only lists polling above 3% of the total vote in each district (which includes blank ballots—for none of the above) are entitled to enter the seat distribution. Under articles 12 and 68 of the Constitution, the minimum voting age is 18.[5]

Elections to the Senate take place under a limited vote system. Each of the 47 peninsular districts (the provinces) is assigned 4 seats. In 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 — one each. Ceuta and Melilla are assigned 2 seats each, for a total of 208 directly elected seats. In districts electing 4 seats, electors may 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 vote for individual candidates: those attaining the largest number of votes in each district 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, adding up a variable number of appointed seats to the directly-elected 208 senators.[6]


This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Foreign relations

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.[5]

The apportionment of seats to provinces follows the largest remainder method over the resident population ("Padrón") with a minimum of two seats (Art. 162 of the Electoral Law).[7]


Dual membership of both chambers of the Cortes or of the Cortes and regional assemblies is prohibited, meaning that candidates must resign from regional assemblies if elected. Active judges, magistrates, public defenders, serving military personnel, active police officers and members of constitutional and electoral tribunals are also ineligible,[5] as well as CEOs or equivalent leaders of state monopolies and public bodies, such as the Spanish state broadcaster [9] 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.[10]

Presenting candidates

Parties and coalitions of different parties which have registered with the Electoral Commission can present lists of candidates. 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. Also since 30 January 2011, political parties without representation in any of the Chambers in the previous general election are 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.[8][7]


Economic and political crisis

The 2011 general election had resulted in a landslide victory for Mariano Rajoy's People's Party (PP), a result of the ongoing financial crisis which had been hurting the country's economy since 2008. The ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), amidst a climate of high unpopularity, was ousted from power obtaining the worst election results since the first post-Francoist electoral process in 1977. Then-Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had decided to stand down as PM candidate in early 2011, and as party leader once the quadrennial party congress due for March 2012 was held. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, PSOE candidate for the 2011 election and former Deputy Prime Minister, was elected as the new Secretary-General in a tight fight against former Minister of Defence Carme Chacón.[11]

Street protest opposite the PP headquarters in Madrid after the eruption of the Bárcenas affair, in which leading party members, including PM Mariano Rajoy himself, were accused of receiving undeclared monthly amounts of money.[12]

Starting with high poll ratings at first immediately following the election, both PP and Rajoy's ratings began to fall after the approval of new austerity measures and spending cuts: a first austerity package including new tax hikes and a spending cut of 9 billion euros on 30 December 2011[13] was followed by a harsh labor reform (which resulted in widespread protests and a general strike in March 2012) and a very austere state budget for 2012.[14] The Bankia crash in May resulted in a dramatic rise of the Spanish risk premium, and in June the country's banking system needed a bailout from the IMF.[15][16] Finally, after a major spending cut of 65 billion euros, including a VAT rise previously denied by Rajoy's party, had seen support for the PP government plummet from 45% in the general election to 34% in mid-to late 2012 polls. To date, this is the most support a political party has lost in its first 6 months of government in the country's history.[17][18] This came coupled with the PSOE inability to gain lost support, with the memory of Zapatero's last government and its economic management still recent in its voters. Furthermore, the emergence of major corruption scandals regarding possible illegal financing on both the People's Party and the Socialist Party regional government of Andalusia, further eroded support for both parties to the point that polls began to show that none of them would be able to command a large enough majority in the Congress to govern alone.

Growing unpopularity and unrest with the current political system of Spain, coupled with an increase of the Catalan independence movement (and the ensuing political crisis) and the stagnant situation of the Spanish economy, still with high levels of unemployment, resulted in growing support for several minor national parties, such as left-wing United Left (IU), newly created Podemos party[19][20] (Spanish for We Can; representing the 15-M movement), centrist Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) and Citizens (C's),[21][22] and right-wing Vox[23][24][25] (Latin for Voice), the latter being a recent split from the People's Party.

Catalan crisis


Aftermath of the 2014 European Parliament election

The PSOE approval on King Juan Carlos' succession by his son Felipe VI was controversial.

All of this culminated in the European Parliament election, 2014. Growing calls from the ruling PP government that economic recovery was already underway[26] did not prevent a major collapse in support for both PP and PSOE, together falling below 50% of the votes for the first time in history. This came coupled with the confirmation of the spectacular rise for minor national parties that polls had partly predicted, but also a surprising strong performance of Podemos party. Former Socialist PM Felipe González's controversial remarks on a TV interview during the electoral campaign that "a grand coalition [between PP and PSOE] could be possible if the country needs it" may have helped hasten the bipartisanship's debacle,[27] as it brought the center of debate on the issue of both parties "being the same" on the eyes of public opinion.[28][29]

King Juan Carlos I's abdication and new PSOE leadership

As a result of the election results, PSOE Secretary-General [32][33][34][35]

Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón was elected as the new PSOE Secretary-General by the militants, in a preliminary election held on 13 July, with 49% of the vote and a large margin over his competitors.[36][37] Sánchez was formally proclaimed to the post on July 26, alongside the new party's executive which replaced most senior party members from Rubalcaba's period.[38][39]

Upon his proclamation as Secretary-General, Sánchez highlighted the need for a renovated and 'clean' PSOE, promising to be blunt with corruption cases within the party. He also urged party members to work "for the millions of people that need a new PSOE", and to make the party "the most formidable instrument for making the country progress". "We [the PSOE] are the party of change, we are the left that will change Spain" Sánchez stated. He has favored a federal amendment of the Spanish Constitution, as a clear reference to the political situation in Catalonia.[40][41] He has also said to be inspired by the "modernization drives" of both Felipe González in the past as well as of PD-leader Matteo Renzi in Italy.[42]

Podemos' "phenomenon" and reactions
Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos.

Immediately following the European Parliament election, opinion polls showed Podemos rising dramatically in vote estimation to third place nationally. In the following weeks, Podemos and its leader, Pablo Iglesias, were subject to numerous attacks by leading PP figures, such as Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and party's Vice-Secretary-General Carlos Floriano, referring to the new party as "populist", "televangelist" and "totalitarian". Others, such as former Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre, also accused Iglesias of supporting ETA, Chavism and Castroism.[43][44]

Proposed reform of the municipal electoral law

At the same time, Rajoy's government studied the possibility of reforming the electoral law for the incoming 2015 local elections in order to allow the election winner to rule the council it had won even if it did not obtain 50% of the vote outright. This move has been criticized because such a law, as it was proposed, would benefit the PP the most in a scenario where the left vote would be divided, preventing left-wing coalitions to govern in many local councils. Also criticized was the chosen timing: just 10 months ahead of the local elections and after the PP's poor showings in the 2014 European election.[45][46]

In August 2014 it was announced that the PP government would proceed to reform the local electoral law in September, and that they were willing to do so even unilaterally if no agreement was reached with other parties. The proposed reform would allow for a party obtaining at least 40% of the vote and a 5-point margin over the second most voted party to win an outright majority of seats in the local councils, with no second round being possible in any case.[47][48] The PSOE accused Rajoy of seeking "the 'direct election' of the PP", arguing that "before the elections it's no time to talk about this" and that it was a "mockery of democracy". UPyD leader Rosa Díez described the reform as "unpresentable" and "an attack on pluralism and the rules of democracy". The EHB coalition called it "undemocratic" and considered it a "perversion", whereas the IU branch in Madrid announced that they would submit motions in all of Madrid municipalities' councils against the direct election of mayors.[49]

In October 2014, the PP agreed to postpone the law's approval until after the 2015 local elections, in order to obtain PSOE's support to the reform.[50]

Abortion law issue

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón resigned after the government's withdrawal of a bill to reform the abortion law.

In September 2013, Spanish [54][55]

Issues arose in the first half of 2014 on the timing of the law's final approval date, being postponed several times because of criticism to the bill both from within and from outside hthe PP. On July, Gallardón, as the main promoter of the bill, assured that his reform would be passed into law before the end of summer. On 23 September 2014, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that his government was scrapping the reform and would instead opt for minor changes to the current abortion law, suggesting the 'lack of consensus' as the main reason behind the decision.[56][57] The same day, Alberto Ruíz-Gallardón announced his resignation from his ministerial position and from politics, "feeling unable to fulfill the assignment he was tasked", and amid voices pointing to him having been discredited by his own party.[58][59][60]

Ebola outbreak

In August and September 2014, two Spanish priests infected with the Ebola virus disease during the virus epidemic in West Africa, Miguel Pajares and Manuel García Viejo, were medically evacuated to Spain. Both patients died as a result of the disease, but a failure in infection control during the treatment of the second priest, Manuel García Viejo, led to the infection of one of the nurses who had treated him, the case being confirmed on 6 October 2014.[61]

Health Minister Ana Mato came under heavy criticism under allegations that security protocols had not been effectively enforced and because of an alleged confusing management of the situation. Five days after the nurse's Ebola case was confirmed, PM Mariano Rajoy handed out the crisis' management to Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, in a move seen as a disallowance to Mato's management.[62][63][64]

Black October and corruption scandals

In October 2014, the sudden emergence of several episodes of corruption that had taken place over the course of the past years and decades[65] was compared to the Italian Tangentopoli episode in the 1990s.[66][67] As a result, it has been dubbed by some media as 'the Spanish Tangentopoli' or 'Black October'.[68][69][70][71]

On July 2014, former Catalonia President, Jordi Pujol i Soley, had come under investigation after he acknowledged possessing a large, undeclared, familiar fortune, with several of his sons being already under investigation on alleged tax offense charges.[72][73] By October 2014, most of his family had already come under investigation under alleged money laundering, fraud, public contract kickbacks and other tax offenses.[74]

The discovery of Caja Madrid's executives' "black" credit cards revealed a massive expenses scandal that had taken place for over a decade.

In early October 2014 a massive expenses scandal was unconvered involving former Caja Madrid senior executives and advisers. At least 86 bankers, politicians, officers and trade union leaders were accused of using undeclared "black" credit cards between 2003 and 2012, spending over 15 million euros in private expenditures. Involved was former Caja Madrid chairman between 1996 and 2009, Miguel Blesa, but also notable members from the PP, PSOE and IU parties, such as former Deputy PM, IMF Managing Director and Caja Madrid/Bankia chairman Rodrigo Rato, as well as members from Spain's main trade unions UGT and CCOO.[75][76][77][78]

On 21 October 2014, judge Pablo Ruz charged former PP Secretary-General and several-times Minister during José María Aznar's tenure, Ángel Acebes, with a possible misappropriation of public funds as a result of the Barcenas affair.[79] Two days later, on 23 October, Ruz charged former Toledo Mayor José Manuel Molina over an alleged irregular donation in 2007 to finance the regional election campaign of then Castile-La Mancha opposition leader and PP Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal.[80] The next day, on 24 October, Ruz' inquiry on a Treasury investigation unveiled that the People's Party could have spent as much as 1.7 million euros, undeclared money, on works of its national headquarters in Madrid between 2006-2008.[81][82]

Francisco Granados, the main figure behind Operation Punica.

On 27 October, a large anti-corruption operation, Operation Punica, resulted in 51 people arrested because of their involvement in a major scandal of public work contract kickbacks, amounting at least 250 million euros. Among those arrested were notable figures such as Francisco Granados, former high-ranking member from ex-Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre's cabinet, or Parla Mayor José María Fraile, successor to Madrid regional PSOE leader and previous Parla Mayor Tomás Gómez. Also involved were other mayors from several Madrid community municipalities under both PP and PSOE control, as well as a large number of politicians, councilors, officials and businessmen from both those and other parties in Murcia, Castile and León and Valencia. PP and PSOE announced the suspension of membership of everyone involved in the operation.[83][84]

On 6 November, it was discovered that President of Extremadura José Antonio Monago (PP) had made 32 public money-funded trips to the Canary Islands, allegedly of private nature, during his time as senator between May 2009 and November 2010, which he was unable to justify.[85][86][87] Monago defended himself declaring that his trips had always been for "honest reasons involving his post", and that "this [the accusations on him] happened to him because he was being inconvenient to some people", however declaring that "he did not have bank accounts in Switzerland nor had used ["black"] credit cards like others" and that he "would not resign". This revelation came just days after Monago had critizised his own party of being too lenient with political corruption in the aftermath of Operation Punica, stating that "When the sewers smell, they must be cleaned, not covered".[88] On November 7, however, another PP member, Congress deputy Carlos Muñoz, was forced to resign from his post by Aragonese regional leader Luisa Fernanda Rudi for the same reason.[89] Monago's affair generated a controversy about MPs not being required to justify the unlimited, public money-funded parliamentary trips they made.[90]

On 11 November, another anti-corruption operation, Operation Creeper, related to the ERE corruption scandal in Andalusia, resulted in the arrest of 32 technicians, civil servants and politicians. The operation came as a consequence of a criminal network accused of rigging public contracts, related to the maintenace of parks and gardens, in all levels of the administration.[91] The same day, Spain's National Court confirmed that there were proofs pointing to the People's Party having benefited from the activities underwent by the Gürtel network, knowing and allowing such activities.[92]

On 26 November, jugde Ruz summoned Health Minister Ana Mato to court after concluding she could have benefited from "tourism services, payment of family events and other items and concepts totaling 55,439€" and other corruption crimes allegedly committed by her former husband Jesús Sepúlveda, charged in the Gürtel case.[93] As a result, Ana Mato resigned that same day, defending that she had not been charged with any penal crime, but declaring that she did not want to bring further harm to her party. A Congress plenary in which Rajoy was to announce legal reforms against corruption had been scheduled for 27 November several weeks previously; the media concluding that it had been Rajoy the one forcing Mato's resignation in order to prevent a complicated political situation.[94]

Parties and leaders

Party G-2011 results EP-2014 results Top candidate
People's Party (PP)
10,866,566 (44.6%)
4,098,339 (26.1%)
Mariano Rajoy
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)
7,003,511 (28.8%)
3,614,232 (23.0%)
Pedro Sánchez
United Left (IU)
1,686,040 (6.9%)
1,575,308 (10.0%)
To be determined
Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD)
1,143,225 (4.7%)
1,022,232 (6.5%)
Rosa Díez
Convergence and Union (CiU)
1,015,691 (4.2%)
549,096 (3.5%)
To be determined
Basque Country Gather (EHB)
334,498 (1.4%)
221,823 (1.4%)
Mikel Errekondo
Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV)
324,317 (1.3%)
214,539 (1.4%)
Aitor Esteban
Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)
256,985 (1.1%)
595,493 (3.8%)
Alfred Bosch
Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG)
184,037 (0.8%)
80,394 (0.5%)
María Olaia Fernández
Canarian Coalition-New Canarias (CC-NC)
143,881 (0.6%)
69,601 (0.4%)
Ana Oramas
Commitment Coalition (Compromís)
125,306 (0.5%)
139,863 (0.9%)
Joan Baldoví
Asturian Forum (FAC)
99,473 (0.4%)
32,962 (0.2%)
Enrique Álvarez Sostres
Yes to the Future (GBai)
42,415 (0.2%)
Uxue Barkos
We Can (Podemos) N/A
1,253,837 (8.0%)
Pablo Iglesias Turrión
Citizens – Party of the Citizenry (C's) N/A
497,146 (3.2%)
Albert Rivera
24,666,441 (68.9%)
15,998,141 (43.8%)


The following galleries feature individuals who have been the subject of media speculation as being possible prime ministerial candidates in the 2015 general election. Individuals listed below have been mentioned as potential 2015 leading candidates for their parties.

People's Party

With no term limit for the office of the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy is likely to seek re-election for a second term in office. However, there have been media speculation about several potential candidates, such as former Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre or former PM José María Aznar,[95][96] to succeed Rajoy in the event that he choose not to seek re-election. However, despite all the names being discussed by the media, only the possible candidacies of Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Alberto Núñez Feijóo have gained serious attention, due to both of them being seen as the closest and most trusted to Rajoy.[97][98] On 6 December 2014, Rajoy announced that he would stand as his party's 2015 election candidate and that he would not call for a snap election.[99]

Spanish Socialist Workers' Party

Pedro Sánchez was elected Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in the party's July 2014 Extraordinary Federal Congress, succeeding Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. Primaries to elect the party candidate for the general election, initially scheduled to be held in November 2014 before the crushing PSOE defeat in May 25 led to an Extraordinary Congress being held, are now expected to be postponed. For the time being, with the primaries' date still to be set, no PSOE member other than Sánchez himself has formally expressed intention to concur as candidate.[100]

United Left

  • Alberto Garzón, Executive Secretary for the Constituent and Congergence Process of United Left

On June 28, 2014, after the 2014 European Parliament election had resulted in an important advance for newly-created Podemos party, 28-year old IU MP and Secretary of Global Economic Policy Alberto Garzón became "Executive Secretary for the Constituent and Convergence Process". This was seen as a move to try to seek future electoral pacts with the new political formation, but also as a promotion of the young MP, giving him effective control over the party's political strategy, over doubts about Lara's continuity in future elections after the rather disappointing results of May 25.[101]

Cayo Lara announced on November 16, 2014, that he would not stand as his party's candidate for the 2015 general election.[102]

Union, Progress and Democracy


Citizens – Party of the Citizenry

Opinion polls

15-day average trend line of poll results from November 2011 to the present day, with each line corresponding to a political party.

Latest possible date

The next general election cannot be held later than Sunday 20 December 2015. This date is determined as follows:

Law Requirement Comments
Constitution: Article 68.4[103] The General Courts have a maximum term of four years, starting on election day. The 2011 election was held on 20 November 2011. Four years after 20 November 2011 is 20 November 2015.
LOREG: Article 42.2[104][105] The decree calling for new elections will be automatically issued 25 days before the expiry date of the General Courts' term, and will be published the following day. 25 days before 20 November 2015 is 26 October 2015. The day after 26 October 2015 is 27 October 2015.
LOREG: Article 42.2[104] The election must take place within 54 days of the publication of the election call decree. 54 days after 27 October 2015 is 20 December 2015.[106]


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