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In Spain there are more than eight thousand municipalities distributed throughout the country. They come in all sizes, from big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona to small villages with only a few inhabitants. However, all municipalities have a common structure:
– A municipal area: all of the inhabited and uninhabited territory in the municipality. Sometimes they can consist of several localities.
– A population: comprised of both inhabitants and temporary visitors.
– A municipal council (ayuntamiento): formed by the mayorand the councillors who meet in plenary sessions and govern and administer the municipality. It represents the governmental body that is closest to the citizens.
The local representatives are elected by the citizens in the municipal elections, which are held every four years. All Spanish people and some foreigners (of certain nationalities) over eighteen years old and residing in the municipality have the right to vote.
Provinces and autonomous communities
The Constitution of 1978 establishes that the State’s territory is organized into:
– Municipalities: basic administrative divisions governed bymunicipal council. There are more than eight thousand municipalities in Spain.
– Provinces: intermediate administrative divisions formed by several municipalities. They have their own government, theprovincial council (diputación), which is in charge of organizing the activities of the State in the territory (charging taxes, holding censuses and elections, etc.) and assisting with some municipal services. There are 52 provinces in Spain.
– Autonomous communities: higher administrative divisions. They are formed by the union of neighbouring provinces and are the division just below the State. They have the right to self-government and a fundamental law: the Statute of Autonomy. They also have a president, a government and a parliament, elected every four years. There are seventeen autonomous communities in Spain and two autonomous cities.
|AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY||PROVINCE||AUTONOMIC CAPITAL|
|Principality of Asturias||Asturias||Oviedo|
|Balearic islands||Balearic Islands||Palma de Mallorca|
|Canary Islands||Las Palmas||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|Santa Cruz de Tenerife|
|Galicia||A Coruña||Santiago de Compostela|
|Community of Madrid||Madrid||Madrid|
|Murcia, Region of||Murcia||Murcia|
|Navarra, Comunidad Foral de||Navarra||Pamplona/Iruña|
|La Rioja||La Rioja||Logroño|
The Spanish Constitution of 1978 established in its day that the different bordering provinces and historical regions could become autonomous communities. At present, Spain consists of seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities: Ceuta and Melilla.
Most autonomous communities are formed by several provinces, although there are sevenuniprovincial communities that only have a single province. These are: the Principality of Asturias, Cantabria, the Chartered Community of Navarre, La Rioja, the Balearic Islands, the Community of Madrid and the Region of Murcia.
Each community has a Statute of Autonomy, considered the fundamental law for the development of the self-government in each community. Most communities have amended their Statutes over the more than thirty years of democracy.
The main institutions and bodies of power in each autonomous community are:
–Parliament or Regional Assembly: it exercises the legislative power. Their representatives are elected in a democratic manner.
– Autonomic Government: it exercises the executive power. It consists of the president and the president’s councillors.
– Supreme Court of Justice: it exercises the judicial power.
Moreover, all communities have their own symbols such as the flag, the badge, the official anthem or the day of the community.
The political organization of our community
The Community of Madrid is one of the seven uniprovincial autonomous communities of Spain. It is divided into 179 municipalitiesand its capital is the city of Madrid .
Statute of Autonomy
This text is the legal framework for the development of self-government in Madrid. It was approved in 1983. It was amended in 1994, 1998 and 2010.
The main institutions and bodies of power in this autonomous community are:
– Asamblea de Madrid: it exercises the legislative power. It is responsible for drafting and approving laws and budgets, as well as controlling the Government’s actions. It is composed of 129 deputies elected by universal suffrage.
–Gobierno de la Comunidad de Madrid: it exercises the executive power. It is responsible for directing and coordinating the regional administration. It consists of the president and his or her councillors.
– Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Madrid: it exercises the judicial power.
The Spanish State
Spain is a democratic State, which takes the form of a parliamentary monarchy. National sovereignty belongs to the citizens, who have the right to elect their political representatives and enjoy the protection of the State, which must guarantee the basic rights and freedoms of the whole population.
On December 6th 1978, Spain adopted a new Constitution. It can be considered a law of laws and it establishes the rights, freedoms andduties of all citizens. It defines the form and organization of the State, the division of powers and it establishes some institutions.
The State institutions
The main State institutions are:
– TheCrown: the head of State is the king, who ratifies the laws approved by the Courts, appoints the president of the government and represents the State overseas.
– The Cortes Generales: formed by the Congress of Deputiesand the Senate. They exercise the legislative power, which means they write and approve laws, control the government’s actions and approve State budgets. Deputies and senators are elected every four years by the citizens in general elections.
– The Government: comprised of the president and theministers. It exercises the executive power, which means it administers public finances and runs the domestic and foreign policy of the State.
– The courts of justice: consist of judges and magistrates who exercise judicial power, which means they ensure compliance with the law.
The Spanish chambers
In the Spanish State, the legislative power lies with the parliament orCortes Generales, which consists of two chambers: the Congress of Deputies and the Senate.
The Congress of Deputies
The Congress of Deputies, or the lower chamber, is comprised of 350 members of parliament. They proportionally represent the population of the different Spanish provinces.
The main roles of the Congress of Deputies are:
– Drafting and approving laws.
– Controlling the actions of the government.
– Managing foreign affairs.
– Examining and approving general proposals for the country.
This map shows the location of Spain in the world. Our neighbours are: France in the north, Morocoo in the south and Portugal in the west.
Not all Spanish territories are in the Iberian peninsula. Balearic islands are in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Canary islands in the Atlantic ocean, just off the western coast of Africa. Also, there are two Spanish cities in the northern coast of Africa: Ceuta and Melilla.
|The Canary Islands are seven: La Palma, El Hierro, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote.||The Balearic Islands are five: Formentera, Ibiza, Cabrera, Mallorca, and Menorca.||Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish territories in the north of Africa.|
A border is a line or frontier that separates one country from another. The borders can be natural orpolitical.
|The Pyrenees form the natural borderbetween Spain and France. In this image, the lake is in Spain, but the other side of the mountains is French territory.||The strait of Gibraltar is thenatural borderbetween Spain and Morocco. In this image, the close land is in Spain, and the one beyond the ocean in Morocco.||This apolitical borderbetween countries. They agreed to have them where they are.|
Spain is divided into seventeen Autonomous Communities and two Autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla.
Also, many Autonomous Communities are made up of different provinces.
Each province is also divided into many smaller municipalities. The next map shows the ones in the Community of Madrid. Some of them (in blue) have also their names written. If you want to find Torrejón de Ardoz on the map, look for Alcalá de Henares. Torrejón is on its left.
In Spain there are more than 8000 municipalities, 50 provinces (with Ceuta and Melilla) and 17 Autonomous Communities.
You can know more about your Autonomous Parliament (Madrid) by clicking on its image.
Do you know why every 6th December is a day off? You don´t go to school that day because we celebrate that Spain is a democracy. Our most important law is the Constitution. Spanish citizens approved it in 1978, 6th December. That´s why!
Other democratic countries have their own Constitutions. Now you can watch a video about the Constitution of Guatemala, which is similar to ours.
Spain is a Parliamentary Monarchy (Parliament + Monarch). This means that King Juan Carlos I is the Head of State, but he must accept the decisions made by Parliament.
|The King Juan Carlos I. He is the father of the future king of Spain, Prince Felipe.||The Congress of Deputies, in Madrid, has 350 deputies.||The building on the right of the picture is the Senate. The number of senators is not fixed and varies every new election.|
The Parliament of Spain is called Las Cortes. It approves laws and controls the government. The Parliament is made up of two chambers: The Congress of Deputies and the Senate. Their members are elected every four years in general elections by Spanish citizens older than 18 years old.
This video shows how some Southafrican children visited the Parliament of the adults to talk about environmental problems of their country.
This building is La Moncloa. It is where the President lives. The President is in charge of the government and must explain the government´s actions to the Congress of Deputies.
The ministers help the President of the Government in many areas: education, health-care, research, defense, culture, economy etc. The next picture show the ministers of Spain in 2015.
The Courts of Justice assure that laws are obeyed. They judge anyone accused of commiting a crime.
|The Supreme Court (Madrid)||The Constitutional Court (Madrid)||This photo shows the Court of Justice in Torrejón de Ardoz.|