COMPOSITION OF THE SENATE

Last revision 01/19/2021

How are Senators elected?

Most Senators (208) are elected directly by the population, four per province. However, in the insular provinces, each island or grouping of islands is classed as one electoral constituency, with each of the larger islands (Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife) electing three Senators and the remaining islands (Ibiza-Formentera, Menorca, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma) choosing one Senator each. The populations of Ceuta and Melilla each choose two Senators. Voters can vote for a maximum of three candidates in the provincial constituencies, two in Gran Canaria, Mallorca, Tenerife, Ceuta and Melilla and one in the remaining island constituencies. Candidates with the highest number of votes obtain a seat.

How many members of the Senate are there?

In the 14th Legislature, the Senate has 265 members, of which 208 are elected and 57 are appointed by Regional Parliaments.

Is the number of Senators fixed?

No. It can vary depending on the number of inhabitants living in the different Self-Governing Communities, since Regional Parliaments appoint one fixed Senator and another Senator for every million inhabitants. The variation in the number of Senators is established at the start of each Legislature (following general elections), taking as a reference the population census published on 1st January from the year of the general election.

The other Senators (57) are appointed by Regional Parliaments in accordance with their population: one Senator per Community and another Senator per million inhabitants in their respective territories, ensuring the adequate proportional representation at all times.

Are there gender quotas?

Yes. Since the reforms of 2007, the Electoral Act requires that when candidacies are grouped into lists - which is most common - they must have a balanced composition of women and men.

Currently there are 106 Female Senators. It is certainly true that this figure does not provide a balanced composition in relation to the total members of the Senate (265). The reason for this imbalance lies largely in the electoral system of the Senate, which impedes balanced candidacies, particularly in comparison with Congress: parties and coalitions usually present three candidates in the majority of constituencies, so it cannot guarantee more than one candidate in both sexes. Furthermore, electors may distribute their three votes freely; therefore parity will also depend on their selection.

In addition, in the case of Senators appointed by regional Parliaments, the requirement for proportional distribution between their Parliamentary Groups also impedes this balance given that there are Groups which can only put forward one candidate; therefore, one of the genders will always go unrepresented through this channel. Furthermore, the fact that some of the Self-Governing Communities appoint a smaller and odd number of Senators contributes to this result.

How long is the Senate elected for?

Four years, but this period may be shorter if the President of the Government moves for early dissolution.

What are the functions of a Senators?

All Senators are involved in the functions of the Senate set out in the Constitution and in Law. The main functions are legislative, budgetary, and the supervision of Government.

What are the duties of a Senators?

Senators are required to present a declaration of activities and a declaration of assets and income. They must also swear an oath of allegiance or observance of the Constitution and respect the regime of compatibilities. They also have the right and the duty to attend Plenary Sittings and the meetings of Committees of which they are a member.

Can I find out the declarations of activities made by Senators?

Yes. The declarations of activities made by Senators at the beginning of their mandate, when their declared situation has changed, or when they cease to be members of parliament, can be viewed by any citizen on the webpage, either through the details for each Senator or through the section on "Transparency”.

Can I find out the declarations of assets and income made by Senators?

Yes. The declarations of assets and income made by Senators can be viewed by any citizen on the webpage, either through the details for each Senator or through the section on "Transparency”.

¿What is the regime of incompatibilities that affects Senators?

To guarantee the independence of members of parliament when performing their functions, electoral legislation establishes that certain professions or political positions cannot be held simultaneously with a parliamentary post. To this end, when being sworn in, members of parliament must make a declaration of activities which is judged by the Committee responsible for incompatibilities. If any incompatibilities are observed, the affected party must choose between their seat and the condition or position that is the cause of the incompatibility. Furthermore, they are required to communicate any alteration in their situation during the Legislature.

What is parliamentary inviolability?

It is a prerogative enjoyed by members of Parliament whereby they cannot be held accountable for written and oral statements made during a parliamentary session or sitting, or for any votes they might cast in relation to the parliamentary decisions with which they are involved.

What is parliamentary immunity?

It is a prerogative by virtue of which members of Parliament cannot be charged or brought to trial without the prior authorisation of the House which must be requested. Through this requirement, the House can ascertain, without judging the matter in depth - in other words, without ascertaining if a crime has been committed -, whether behind an accusation levelled against a Senator or Deputy there is an agenda of political persecution. To this end, a procedure is followed within the House, with the participation of the affected party, which culminates in the corresponding decision made via a secret ballot. This prerogative is not applied in the case of a flagrant crime.

How much does a Senator ern? What is their regime of social protection?

Each Senator receives an allowance of €2,842,05 a month, plus an additional allowance to cover costs incurred through Senate activity of €1,840,60 (€877,778 for Senators elected in Madrid). In addition, they receive a sum depending on the position they hold and a series of allowances agreed by the Senate Bureau, in accordance with the Senate Standing Orders.

The social protection of Senators encompasses making sure they are registered with the Social Security system as members of the Senate, along with making the pension payments and mutual friendly society payments pertaining to each of them.

Once their mandate has been lost, they have the right receive compensation for dismissal (given that they do not have the right to receive an unemployment allow-ance), which is incompatible with any other compensation. Contributions made to retirement funds are also suspended.

Furthermore, as a consequence of the latest modifications made to the corresponding regulations, the following have been repealed: pension allowances (with the exception of those who were already entitled to receive them at the end of the IX Leg-islature); the ongoing registration of former members of parliament aged over 55 with the Social Security system and the economic assistance provided for the latter, as well as financial assistance for widowed spouses.

The Senate webpage publishes a list of individuals in receipt of pension allowances, financial assistance and compensation, as well as the corresponding amounts. The details regarding parliamentary pensions, the registration of Senators in the Social Security system, additional earnings allowances and compensation for dismissal are kept up to date at all times.

Detailed information about the economic regime and social protection of Senators can be found in the "Senators" section (within "Composition and organisation") and "Transparency" (within "Citizen Relations"). Descriptions of the subsidies awarded to Parliamentary Groups along with the corresponding amounts are also provided.

How can I find information about a Senator? What information is contained in their profiles?

In the "Senators" section, which can be accessed directly from the homepage, you can find out about the composition of the Senate, broken down by different criteria: alphabetical, geographical, membership of a Parliamentary Group, composition of the different bodies of the Senate, and chronological. By clicking on the name of each Senator, you can open their profile or personal details.

The structure of each Senator's details is divided into a fixed section, with essential details (name, constituency or appointment, date they became a Senator, Parliamentary Group to which they belong, or territorial Group of which they are a member, electoral formation through which they stood for election, and membership of a political party) and the citizen participation channels indicated by the Senator (e-mail, profiles on social networking sites, and personal pages or blogs).

The rest of the information contained in the Senator's details is displayed by activating the following tabs: “Posts in the Senate”, “Parliamentary activity” (including the initiatives and bills they have authored), “Biography”, “Declaration of activities”, “Declaration of assets and income", and, if applicable, "Other Legislatures in the Senate”.

How can I contact a Senator?

A citizen can contact a Senator directly by e-mail and through the mechanisms for participation, which can be accessed either through the Senator's details or through the "Participate" section of the area dedicated to citizen relations.

Which information is provided about the different governing bodies of the Senate?

There are several areas on the webpage which provide information about the Senate's governing bodies: Speaker, Bureau, Board of Spokespersons.

The calendar of activities shows the meetings convened and the agendas for all bodies.

Furthermore, in the section dedicated to the Senate's governing bodies, each one has its own space where you can view its composition both today and in the past, and obtain information about how it operates and its functions.

A special site has been developed dedicated to the Speaker, providing information about his or her diary, biography and functions. Past speakers are also present on this part of the webpage through the portrait gallery and links to their biographical in-formation and details of their activity.

What are the functions of the Senate's Speaker?

The functions of the Senate's Speaker include the following: being the most senior representative figure of the Senate; convening and presiding over Plenary Sittings, guiding their debates, maintaining order, with the ability to impose sanctions; and, finally, interpreting the Senate Standing Orders. This individual also presides over the Bureau, the Board of Spokespersons and the Appointments Committee.

What is the Senate Bureau? What are its functions?

The Bureau is the Senate's governing body, comprising the Speaker, two Deputy Speakers and four Secretaries. Its election for each Legislature takes place in the constitutional sitting of the House. Its major competences are parliamentary and administrative in nature.

It assesses parliamentary writings and documents, declares their admission or rejection and decides the process by which different initiatives should be handled; furthermore, it programmes the general lines of action of the House, establishes the schedule of meetings of the Plenary Sitting for each period of sessions and coordinates the work of the different bodies of the Senate, having previously met with the Board of Spokespersons. Furthermore, in accordance with the Speaker, and having consulted the Board of Spokespersons, the Bureau establishes the agenda for Plenary Sittings.

When exercising its administrative functions, the Bureau takes any decisions and measures required to organise the work and internal regime of the House, as well as any action required with regard to recruitment and employment, and approves the Senate's proposed budget for each financial year, oversees its implementation and orders expenditure.

What is the Board of Spokespersons? What are its functions?

The Board of Spokespersons is made up of the Speaker of the House and the spokespersons for the Parliamentary Groups. As well as the Spokespersons themselves, its meetings may also be attended by a representative of Government.

In the Senate, the Board of Spokespersons must be heard before setting the agenda for Plenary Sittings, which is determined by the Speaker together with the Bureau; it is heard in relation to various parliamentary initiatives and matters pertaining to the internal organisation of the House, which are in general resolved by the Bureau or the Speaker. Additionally, in practice, it has become a forum where, under the authority of the Speaker of the Senate, suggestions and observations are made about any aspect related to the functioning of the House.

What is the Plenary Sitting? What are its functions?

The Plenary Sitting is the functional body of the House made up of all its members. The Plenary Sitting is aware of all the most important matters and in most cases it has the final word in the debate and passing of initiatives and bills presented by Committees for its consideration.

The main functions of the Plenary Sitting include: approving vetoes and amendments presented within the Senate with regard to governmental and non-governmental bills received from Congress, including the general draft State budget; authorising the ratification of treaties and international conventions; approving mo-tions; debating questions and interpellations; and choosing the members of constitu-tional bodies, as well as the Constitutional Court, the General Council of Judicial Power, the Court of Auditors and the Ombudsman.

When does the Plenary Sitting meet?

The Plenary Sitting usually meets for two weeks every month, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and sometimes on Thursdays, in accordance with a previously established calendar and agenda.

What is the Permanent Deputation?

The Permanent Deputation is the body responsible for convening extraordinary sit-tings and safeguarding the powers of the House when it is not in session or when its mandate has expired or it has been dissolved, until the new House is constituted. The Speaker of the House presides over the Permanent Deputation, which has a minimum of 21 members of Parliament chosen by the Parliamentary Groups in proportion to their numerical importance. It is constituted at the start of the Legislature.

What is a Committee? What types of Committees are there and what are their functions?

A Committee is a functional parliamentary body, made up of a small number of members of the House in proportion to the numerical weight of their Group in the House, with authority in certain matters and which occasionally acts as a preparatory body for the activity of the Plenary Sittings and, in other cases, as a body with its own competences. There are several types of Committees: standing (legislative and non-legislative), investigation, special and Mixed Committees (Congress of Deputies and Senate). The key competences of Committees are to rule on legislative texts and hold informative sessions with members of the Government, authorities, civil servants and other figures, and to channel oral questions and motions.

How many members of a Committee are there?

Committees do not have an equal number of members. The general rule for this current Legislature is 29, which is valid for the immense majority of standing legislative Committees and which is fixed at the start of the Legislature. These members are distributed proportionally between the different Parliamentary Groups. Other Com-mittees, such as the Committee of Self-Governing Communities and Mixed Committees, might have more members, and others, such as the Appointments Committee, may have fewer.

What is a Parliamentary Group?

A Parliamentary Group is a group of members of Parliament established by virtue of their political affiliation. They are constituted in the Houses at the start of each Legislature.

In the case of the Senate, each Parliamentary Group will be composed of at least ten Senators. No Senator may be a member of more than one Parliamentary Group. Senators who have stood for election as part of the same party, federation, coalition or group may not form more than one Parliamentary Group. Senators who do not join a specifically named Parliamentary Group will join the Mixed Group.

What are the functions of a Parliamentary Group?

A Parliamentary Group plays a decisive role in parliamentary life: it can exercise various initiatives, such as non-government bills and motions; takes part in debates and deliberations; it participates in the turns reserved for Parliamentary Groups by means of a freely appointed Senator; it coordinates, delegates functions and exercises voting discipline in relation to its members; its Spokesperson participates in the Board of Spokespersons.

What information is provided about Parliamentary Groups?

Parliamentary Groups and political parties have their own space on the webpage, providing information about their composition and activity and opening up channels of communication and participation for citizens, through their e-mail addresses and social network profiles.

How many Parliamentary Groups are there in the Senate?

In the XIV legislature there are 8 parliamentary groups: Grupo Parlamentario Socialista, Grupo Parlamentario Popular en el Senado, Grupo Parlamentario de Esquerra Republicana - Euskal Herria Bildu, Grupo Parlamentario Vasco en el Senado (EAJ-PNV), Grupo Parlamentario de Ciudadanos, Grupo Parlamentario de Izquierda Confederal (Adelante Andalucía, Més per Mallorca, Más Madrid, Compromís, Geroa Bai y Catalunya en Comú Podem), Grupo Parlamentario Nacionalista en el Senado Junts per Catalunya - Coalición Canaria/Partido Nacionalista Canario y Grupo Parlamentario Mixto.

What details does the Senate provide about its Administration?

The webpage contains information about the organisation of its Administration, staff recruitment and economic and contractual aspects. Specifically, it provides the following information:

  • With regard to organisation, you can access the rules that govern the functioning of the Secretariat General, its functions, the types of staff members working there, and its organisational diagrams and charts.
  • In relation to staff recruitment, all competitions and openings for civil service and non-civil service staff are published, offering information about the functions of each civil service unit or professional group, and the requirements set out for candidates. This information is completed with other details about training activity provided within the Senate.
  • Finally, the economic and contractual rules are published in the section dedicated to the Senate's contractor profile, together with all the information about tender bids that are currently available and contracts allocated.

What is the Secretariat General of the Senate?

The Secretariat General is the set of administrative services which make up the Senate Administration. It is bound by strict criteria of legality, impartiality and professionalism. It provides the services required for the Senate to carry out its constitu-tional functions. It is governed by rules approved by the Senate Bureau, by which it is bound at all times, and by the Statute of Parliamentary Staff. It is headed by the Senior Parliamentary Counsellor or Secretary General, appointed by the Senate Bureau, at the proposal of the Speaker, from the Civil Service unit of Parliamentary Advisers, which oversees the staff at the Secretariat General, made up of Parliamentary civil servants, non-civil service staff at the Senate and seconded staff.