Article 2 of the constitution of 1978 makes it clear that "national sovereignty resides with the Spanish people, from whom all the powers of the state derive". This sovereignty is expressed through parliament, the elected members of which are the trustees and representatives of the will of the people. Parliament is the supreme institution of the state and, significantly, even the monarchy— quite deliberately defined as a "parliamentary monarchy"—is, in the last resort, subject to its will.
   The term Cortes has come to refer to the national parliament as a whole, whether unicameral or bicameral. Spain has a bicameral system, consisting of a lower house or Congress (Congreso de las Diputados) and an upper house or Senate (Senado). As in the UK, the lower house has precedence in most matters, including legislative affairs; this is symbolized at sessions of the joint houses of parliament, which are presided over by the president of the Congress.
   In line with the constitution, the election law of 1985 established that the Congress should consist of 350 deputies. Elections are held through universal, free, direct, equal and secret suffrage, and all citizens over the age of eighteen are eligible to vote. Votes are cast, not for individual candidates, but for a party list in which candidates appear in a ranking order fixed in advance by the parties concerned. The constituency for elections is normally the province. Article 68.3 establishes a system of proportional representation for allocating seats to the provinces and the details of this are spelled out in article 162 of the election law. Article 163 specifies the method by which votes are distributed among candidates in each province: this is the D'Hondt system, which is also used in regional and local elections and which tends to favour larger parties. The life-span of the Congress is four years, after which an election must be called. The Senate is described in article 69 of the constitution as "the chamber of territorial representation", which in theory means that it should represent the interests of the autonomous communities. However, while a number of senators are, indeed, indirectly elected from among the members of the regional assemblies, the vast majority of them, 208 out of total of 256, are elected from the province which, as with the Congress, provides the normal constituency. Each province elects four senators, with each elector casting only three votes, in a first-past-the-post system, which makes no allowances for enormous population variations between the provinces. The life-span of the Senate is also four years. Since 1994 a joint parliamentary working group has been studying ways of reforming the Senate to make it a Chamber which, both in composition and powers, more genuinely reflects the interests of the autonomous communities.
   Further reading
   - Newton, M.T. with Donaghy, P.J. (1997) Institutions of Modern Spain, Cambridge University Press (chapter 4 is exclusively devoted to a detailed examination of the role, functions and operation of parliament and several Spanish works are quoted in the select bibliography).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Parliament — par·lia·ment / pär lə mənt, pärl yə / n [Anglo French parlement conference, council, parliament, from parler to speak] 1 a: an assemblage of the nobility, clergy, and commons called together by the British sovereign as the supreme legislative… …   Law dictionary

  • Parliament — Par lia*ment, n. [OE. parlement, F. parlement, fr. parler to speak; cf. LL. parlamentum, parliamentum. See {Parley}.] 1. A parleying; a discussion; a conference. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] But first they held their parliament. Rom. of R. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • parliament — par‧lia‧ment [ˈpɑːləmənt ǁ ˈpɑːr ] noun [countable] the group of people elected to make a country s laws and discuss important national issues: • The Dutch parliament voted to begin lifting economic sanctions. * * * parliament UK US /ˈpɑːləmənt/… …   Financial and business terms

  • parliament — ► NOUN 1) (Parliament) (in the UK) the highest legislature, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. 2) a similar body in other countries. ORIGIN Old French parlement speaking …   English terms dictionary

  • parliament — [pär′lə mənt] n. [ME parlament < OFr parlement < parler: see PARLEY] 1. an official or formal conference or council, usually concerned with government or public affairs 2. [P ] a) the national legislative body of Great Britain, composed of… …   English World dictionary

  • Parliament — Parliament, s. Parlament …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • parliament — (n.) late 13c., from O.Fr. parlement (11c.), originally speaking, talk, from parler to speak (see PARLEY (Cf. parley)); spelling altered c.1400 to conform with M.L. parliamentum. Anglo Latin parliamentum is attested from early 13c. Related:… …   Etymology dictionary

  • parliament — parliament, parliamentary Both words are spelt with an a in the middle, but are pronounced with the ia as a single syllable …   Modern English usage

  • Parliament — This article is about the legislative institution. For other uses, see Parliament (disambiguation). Parliaments redirects here. For the American style doo wop quintet, see The Parliaments. The House of Representatives Chamber of the Parliament of …   Wikipedia

  • parliament — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ current, present ▪ new ▪ outgoing ▪ bicameral, unicameral ▪ elected …   Collocations dictionary

  • parliament — /pahr leuh meuhnt/ or, sometimes, /pahrl yeuh /, n. 1. (usually cap.) the legislature of Great Britain, historically the assembly of the three estates, now composed of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal, forming together the House of Lords, and… …   Universalium

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