Spain is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1978. The hereditary monarch, who is the head of state, may ratify laws, dissolve the legislature, and propose candidates for the office of prime minister; he is also head of the armed forces. The prime minister ( presidente ) is the head of government. The king proposes the prime minister, who must be approved by the legislature. Spain has a bicameral legislature, the Cortes ( Las Cortes Generales ), or National Assembly. Members of the 350-seat Congress of Deputies are elected by popular vote. Of the 259 members of the Senate, 208 are directly elected, while 51 are appointed by regional legislatures. All legislators serve four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 17 regions (autonomous communities) and 2 autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). Each of the autonomous communities has its own parliament and regional government.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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