Spain is a parliamentary monarchy in which the King is Head of State.
Spain is a parliamentary monarchy in which the King is Head of State but it is the Government (the President and Council of Ministers) which directs domestic and foreign policy, civil and military administration and the defence of the State. It exercises executive and statutory authority in accordance with the Constitution and the law. In exceptional circumstances it can legislate by Royal Decree in matters of urgency.
The Spanish Parliament, the Cortes Generales, represents the Spanish people and and comprises two chambers, the Congreso [Parliament] and the Senado [Senate]. Parliament holds the executive power in of the State, approves the budget, oversees the government and exercises other powers granted it by the Constitution.
One of the most important aspects of the enactment of the Spanish Constitution in 1978 was the approval of the division of the Spanish State into Autonomous Communities – 17 to be precise, and two autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each Autonomous Community has its own regional Government and Parliament and wide-ranging powers, the organisation of political power in Spain can be described as decentralised. The Laws are enacted by the Spanish Parliament (the Cortes Generales), and the Parliaments of the Autonomous Communities.
People who are in Spain are subject to Spanish legislation. Spanish law is similar to French or German law, for example, which are both based on Roman law, but not to the Anglo-American system.
Courts and tribunals with different jurisdictions are responsible for the administration of justice, which is responsible for civil, criminal, social and administrative matters. Lawyers are responsible for defending their clients, while legal representatives deal with legal formalities. People on low incomes are entitled to free legal aid.
Text last edited on: 08/2010
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