Overview of Barcelona

Politics of Barcelona

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Spain is a democracy organized in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy with 17 autonomous communities (Estado de las Autonomías). The basic institutional law of each autonomous community is the Statute of Autonomy. These consist of: Andalucía, Aragón, Asturias, Islas Baleares, Islas Canarias, Cantabria, Castile and León, Castile-La Mancha, Cataluña, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Community of Madrid, Region of Murcia, País Vasco, Comunidad Valenciana, Navarra) and two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). All Autonomous Communities have their own elected parliaments, governments, public administrations, budgets, and resources. Health and education systems are managed regionally as well as public finances.

    The government of all autonomous communities must be based on a division of powers comprising:
  • Legislative Assembly whose members must be elected by universal suffrage according to the system of proportional representation and in which all areas that integrate the territory are fairly represented;
  • Government Council, with executive and administrative functions headed by a president, elected by the Legislative Assembly and nominated by the King of Spain;
  • Supreme Court of Justice, under the Supreme Court of the State, which head the judicial organization within the autonomous community.

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 outlines Spain's transition to democracy. The executive branch consists of a Council of Ministers of Spain, presided over by the Prime Minister. These are nominated and appointed by the monarch and confirmed by the Congress of Deputies following legislative elections. By political custom established by King Juan Carlos since the ratification of the 1978 Constitution, the king's nominees have all been from parties who maintain a plurality of seats in the Congress. The Prime Minister is Mariano Rajoy. He is leader of the Partido Popular. There is a hereditary monarch with Juan Carlos I presiding as reigning King of Spain.

The legislative branch is made up of the Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) with 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation. They serve four-year terms.
A Senate (Senado) has 259 seats of which 208 are directly elected by popular vote and the other 51 appointed by the regional legislatures. They also serve four-year terms.

Since 2009, the government of Spain has kept a balanced gender equality ratio with 9 out of the 18 members of the Government being women. Spain has established progressive gender equality and promoted gender-based positive discrimination. The Gender Empowerment Measure of Spain in the United Nations Human Development Report is 0.794, the 12th in the world.

After the death of Franco and the return of democracy, Spain's foreign policy broke the diplomatic isolation and entered the European Community. Spain is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO.


As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Catalan government (Generalitat de Catalunya). This includes the executive branch, the parliament, and the Supreme Court of Catalonia. The city is also the capital of the Province of Barcelona and the Barcelonès comarca.

Barcelona is governed by a city council formed by 41 city councilors, elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage. Barcelona is subject to a special law articulated through the Carta Municipal (Municipal Law). The mayor and city council have greater powers than other cities, and a special economic regime. The council holds a veto in matters that will be decided by the central government, but that will need a favorable report from the council. The current mayor is Xavier Trias i Vidal de Llobatera.

It's council is organized in two levels:
Political - Elected city councilors
Executive - Administrates the programs and executes the decisions taken on the political level.

The Comissió de Govern (Government Commission) is the executive branch. It is formed by 24 councilors and led by the Mayor. In addition, there are 5 lieutenant-mayors and 17 city councilors, each in charge of an area of government.
The plenary is formed by the 41 city councilors and has advisory, planning, regulatory, and fiscal executive functions.
The six Commissions del Consell Municipal (City council commissions) has executive and controlling functions in the field of their jurisdiction. They are composed by a number of councilors proportional to the number of councilors each political party has in the plenary. The city council has jurisdiction in the fields of city planning, transportation, municipal taxes, public highways security through the Guàrdia Urbana (the municipal police), city maintenance, gardens, parks and environment, facilities (like schools, nurseries, sports centers, libraries, and so on.), culture, sports, youth and social welfare. Some of these competencies are not exclusive, but shared with the Generalitat de Catalunya or the central Spanish government.

Catalonia identifies itself as a nationality and was granted self-government through a rapid process. Autonomous communities are subdivided into provinces (provincias), which served as their territorial building blocks. In turn, provinces are integrated by municipalities (municipios). Municipalities are granted autonomy to manage their internal affairs, and provinces are the territorial divisions designed to carry out the activities of the State.

Update 19/06/2012

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