Election Resources on the Internet:
Elections to the Galician Parliament
by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera

The Autonomous Community of Galicia held an early parliamentary election on Sunday, October 21, 2012. An overview of the Galician proportional representation electoral system is presented here.

In addition, autonomous community- and provincial-level results are available here (and also in CSV format) for the following Galician autonomic parliamentary elections:

      October 21, 2012      
      March 1st, 2009      
      June 19, 2005      
      October 21, 2001      
      October 19, 1997      
      October 17, 1993      
      December 17, 1989      
      November 24, 1985      
      October 20, 1981      

The election statistics presented in this space come from results published by the Galicia Board of Elections and the Eleccións 2012 - Parlamento de Galicia website.

Spanish legislative election results for Galicia are available in Elections to the Spanish Congress of Deputies.

For information about the electoral system of the Autonomous Community of Euskadi, which also held an autonomic election on Sunday, October 21, 2012, visit Elections to the Basque Parliament.

General Aspects of the Electoral System

The Galician Parliament consists of a single house, composed of 75 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage for a four-year term of office. Each one of Galicia's four provinces - A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense (Orense) and Pontevedra - is a constituency entitled to an initial minimum of ten seats; the remaining 35 seats are distributed among the four provinces in proportion to their population.

In every election since 1997, parliamentary seats have been allocated in the following manner:

   Province       Seats   
   A Coruña       24   
   Lugo       15   
   Ourense (Orense)       14   
   Pontevedra       22   
   Total       75   

Otherwise, the Galician electoral system is almost identical to the system used to choose members of the Spanish Congress of Deputies. As such, parties, federations, coalitions and agrupaciones de electores (electors' groups) present closed lists of candidates; electors then cast a ballot for a single list; and seats in each constituency are apportioned according to the largest average method of proportional representation (PR) - the d'Hondt rule - among lists receiving at least five percent of all valid votes cast in the constituency (three percent before 1993), including blank ballots.

It should be pointed out that the Galician electoral system favors the sparsely populated provinces of Lugo and Ourense at the expense of A Coruña and Pontevedra. For example, in the 2005 parliamentary election, the smallest quotient used to allocate seats was 14,456 votes in Lugo, but in A Coruña the same figure rose to 26,025 votes. It should noted as well that the five percent barrier is relevant only in A Coruña and Pontevedra: in Lugo and Ourense, the d'Hondt rule creates a de facto representation threshold which is slightly larger than the barrier set forth by law.

The Political Parties

The Popular Party (PP) - Spain's major right-of-center party, originally known as the Popular Alliance (AP) - has been Galicia's dominant political force since 1981, when it scored an upset victory over the Union of the Democratic Center (UCD), the moderate party that ruled Spain from 1977 to 1982. PP, which has won the largest number of seats in every election to the Parliament of Galicia, ruled the autonomous community from 1982 until 1987 (when a no-confidence motion brought down the minority government of Xerardo Fernández Albor), from 1990 to 2005 (when AP founder Manuel Fraga Iribarne headed the autonomous government), and again since 2009, under the leadership of Alberto Núñez Feijoo.

The Galician party system has been characterized as well by the presence of nationalist parties that compete with Spain's major statewide parties, although Galician nationalists have never enjoyed an electoral following as broad as that of their counterparts in Catalonia and the Basque Country. Nonetheless, since 1993 the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) has captured a substantial number of votes and seats in elections to the Galician Parliament, and the left-wing nationalist coalition has alternated in second place with the Party of Galician Socialists (PSdeG), the Galician branch of PSOE.

While PSdeG has never won a parliamentary election in Galicia, the party has held power on two occasions: from 1987 to 1990, when then-Socialist leader Fernando González Laxe ruled in alliance with the Galician Coalition (CG; a moderate nationalist party established by former Galician UCD leaders after the centrist party's dissolution in 1983), the Galician Nationalist Party (PNG; a CG breakaway) and AP dissidents; and from 2005 to 2009, when PSdeG leader Emilio Pérez Touriño formed a coalition government with BNG, after PP lost by a single seat the absolute majority it held in the Galician Parliament since 1989 (which the latter recovered in 2009, once again by a one-seat margin).

Online Resources

Copyright © 2009-2012 Manuel Álvarez-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.
Last update: October 22, 2012.