Sun. Feb 23rd, 2020

Voters choose 208 of the 265 senators, with the question of whether open lists will be used

Citizens choose next Sunday to 208 of the 265 that make up the Upper House, once again with the question of whether they will finally take advantage of the possibilities offered by the open list system to choose the four senators designated by each province: Voters indicate up to three names from among all the candidates that present themselves and can do so from the same party, from two or even from three different ones.

The results show after 40 years of general elections that voters choose candidates from the same party, so that the most voted formation takes three seats directly and the second one, one. That is to say, the habitual thing is that only two parties the senators are distributed, and in the majority of provinces, they are the PP and the PSOE.

In the last elections of April this scheme was repeated, but in seven provinces however there was a different distribution of the vote. The result in Madrid was a 2 + 1 + 1 between PSOE, PP and Citizens, respectively; in Palencia, Soria, Murcia, Zamora and Segovia there was a 2 + 2 between PSOE and PP, and in Barcelona, ​​another 2 + 2 but between ERC and PSC. In much of these constituencies, this 'novelty' was attributed to the 1 + 1 + 1 campaign that called for marking only one candidate from each of the right center parties (PP, Cs and Vox), which divided the vote.

In the rest of the constituencies, the tradition of 3 + 1 was maintained and the majority-elected party was the PSOE, which achieved 123 seats at once and reached the absolute majority (133) thanks to the regional senators. The PP, which was considered a victim of that 1 + 1 + 1 campaign, reduced its representation to the 55 senators (with the member of Navarra +, a coalition that forms in Navarra with UPN and Cs), when it came from an absolute majority.


Since 2011, the result had been similar to April, but in favor of the 'popular', so on Sunday it will be seen if the PSOE maintains in the provinces this force of 28A or both parties approach. In 2004 and 2008, the PP achieved a hundred senators and the PSOE from 80 to 88, but supported by the dozen senators of the Entesa de Progrés of Catalonia constituted by the PSC and ERC. That is, there was almost a tie that allowed the Socialists to preside over the Chamber with Javier Rojo.

Another fact that must be taken into account is that of the 57 regional senators elected by regional parliaments, not citizens at the polls, and which are already distributed. The PSOE has 18 seats, so it will maintain the current absolute majority if on Sunday it has 115 senators. If you stay below this figure you will need support to direct the Chamber and add majorities.

The 'popular' start with 14 regional senators and will have to double the 55 of April (with the member of Navarra +) and reach 119 to snatch the majority from the Socialists, that is, will have to get an electoral turnaround.

This 3 + 1 system makes it difficult for other parties to enter. In April, Citizens only obtained four senators at the polls despite achieving the best result of their history in Congress with 57 deputies, and Vox, who entered the Congress with 24 deputies, however did not get any elected seat in the Senate, The same as United We Can.

The strength of these matches is still to be seen next Sunday and if they will be able to break that traditional cast in favor of PSOE and PP in more provinces.


The political importance of the result in the Senate has always been relative. It does not intervene in the election of the president of the Government and is not decisive in the elaboration of the laws: its amendments and reforms can be knocked down by the Congress, which has the last word.

If the majority of the Senate is different from that of the Government, as was the case with the Pedro Sánchez Executive after the motion of censure, it can delay procedures, create investigation commissions or tighten control to the Government, but it has no legislative significance.

It is only decisive to approve the so-called spending ceiling, which can veto and force the Government to submit again, and especially to approve the application of 155 of the Constitution, as happened with Catalonia in 2017. The Government must submit a project to the Senate to debate and approve by absolute majority, or may not take action under that constitutional article.

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