1896 Spanish general election

The 1896 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 12 April and on Sunday, 26 April 1896, to elect the 7th Restoration Cortes of the Kingdom of Spain. All 401 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as 180 of 360 seats in the Senate.[1]

1896 Spanish general election

← 1893 12 April 1896 (Congress)
26 April 1896 (Senate)
1898 →

All 401 seats in the Congress of Deputies and 180 (of 360) seats in the Senate
201 seats needed for a majority in the Congress of Deputies
  First party Second party Third party
  Antonio Cánovas del Castillo (cropped).jpg Práxedes Mateo Sagasta (cropped).jpg Francisco Silvela 1905 (cropped).jpg
Leader Antonio Cánovas del Castillo Práxedes Mateo Sagasta Francisco Silvela
Party Conservative Liberal Silvelist
Leader since 1874 1872 1892
Leader's seat Hellín Logroño Piedrahita
Last election 72 seats[a] 255 seats[a] 17 seats
Seats won 272 98 12
Seat change Green Arrow Up Darker.svg200 Red Arrow Down.svg157 Red Arrow Down.svg5

Prime Minister before election

Antonio Cánovas del Castillo

Elected Prime Minister

Antonio Cánovas del Castillo



The Spanish Constitution of 1876 enshrined Spain as a constitutional monarchy, awarding the King power to name senators and to revoke laws, as well as the title of commander-in-chief of the army. The King would also play a key role in the system of El Turno Pacífico (the Peaceful Turn) by appointing and toppling governments and allowing the opposition to take power. Under this system, the Conservative and Liberal parties alternated in power by means of election rigging, which they achieved through the encasillado, using the links between the Ministry of Governance, the provincial civil governors, and the local bosses (caciques) to ensure victory and exclude minor parties from the power sharing.[2]

Electoral systemEdit

The Spanish Cortes were envisaged as "co-legislative bodies", based on a nearly perfect bicameralism. Both the Congress of Deputies and the Senate had legislative, control and budgetary functions, sharing equal powers except for laws on contributions or public credit, where the Congress had preeminence.[3][4] Voting for the Cortes was on the basis of universal manhood suffrage, which comprised all national males over twenty-five, having at least a two-year residency in a municipality and in full enjoyment of their civil rights.[5]

For the Congress of Deputies, 88 seats were elected using a partial block voting in 26 multi-member constituencies, with the remaining 313 being elected under a one-round first-past-the-post system in single-member districts. Candidates winning a plurality in each constituency were elected. In constituencies electing eight seats or more, electors could vote for no more than three candidates less than the number of seats to be allocated; in those with more than four seats and up to eight, for no more than two less; in those with more than one seat and up to four, for no more than one less; and for one candidate in single-member districts. The Congress was entitled to one member per each 50,000 inhabitants, with each multi-member constituency being allocated a fixed number of seats: 8 for Madrid, 5 for Barcelona and Palma, 4 for Seville and 3 for Alicante, Almería, Badajoz, Burgos, Cádiz, Cartagena, Córdoba, Granada, Jaén, Jerez de la Frontera, La Coruña, Lugo, Málaga, Murcia, Oviedo, Pamplona, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santander, Tarragona, Valencia, Valladolid and Zaragoza. The law also provided for by-elections to fill seats vacated throughout the legislature.[3][6][7]

For the Senate, 180 seats were indirectly elected, with electors voting for delegates instead of senators. Elected delegates—equivalent in number to one-sixth of the councillors in each municipal corporation—would then vote for senators using a write-in, two-round majority voting system. The provinces of Álava, Albacete, Ávila, Biscay, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Guipúzcoa, Huelva, Logroño, Matanzas, Palencia, Pinar del Río, Puerto Príncipe, Santa Clara, Santander, Santiago de Cuba, Segovia, Soria, Teruel, Valladolid and Zamora were allocated two seats each, whereas each of the remaining provinces was allocated three seats, for a total of 147. The remaining 33 were allocated to a number of institutions, electing one seat each—the Archdioceses of Burgos, Granada, Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Cuba, Seville, Tarragona, Toledo, Valencia, Valladolid and Zaragoza; the Royal Spanish Academy; the Royal Academies of History, Fine Arts, Sciences, Moral and Political Sciences and Medicine; the Universities of Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Havana, Oviedo, Salamanca, Santiago, Seville, Valencia, Valladolid and Zaragoza; and the Economic Societies of Friends of the Country from Madrid, Barcelona, CubaPuerto Rico, León, Seville and Valencia. An additional 180 seats comprised senators in their own right—the Monarch's offspring and the heir apparent once coming of age; Grandees of Spain of the first class; Captain Generals of the Army and the Navy Admiral; the Patriarch of the Indies and archbishops; as well as other high-ranking state figures—and senators for life (who were appointed by the Monarch).[8][9][10]

Election dateEdit

The term of each House of the Cortes—the Congress and one-half of the elective part of the Senate—expired five years from the date of their previous election, unless they were dissolved earlier. The Monarch had the prerogative to dissolve both Houses at any given time—either jointly or separately—and call a snap election.[3][6][8]


Congress of DeputiesEdit

Summary of the 12 April 1896 Congress of Deputies election results
Parties and coalitions Seats
Seats +/−
Liberal Conservative Party (Ministerials) (PLC) 272 +200
Liberal Conservative Party (PLC) 271 +201
Basque Dynastics (Din.v) 1 –1
Conservative Union (UC) 12 –5
Total Conservatives 284 +195
Liberal Party (PL) 98 –157
Total Liberals 98 –157
Traditionalist Communion (CT) 10 +3
Independent Catholics (Cató.i) 1 +1
Integrist Party (PI) 0 –2
Total Carlists and Traditionalists 11 +2
Independent Republican Possibilists (Pos.i)1 2 4 –11
Republican Union (UR) 0 –32
Progressive Republican Party (PRP)3 0 –14
Federal Democratic Republican Party (PRDF) 0 –9
Independent Republicans (Rep.i) 0 –5
Centralist Republican Party (PRC)3 0 –4
Total Republicans 4 –43
Independents (Indep) 2 +2
Vacants 2 +1
Total 401 ±0
Seats (parties/coalitions)
Seats (factions)


  1. ^ a b Data adjusted to account for the Basque Dynastic's alignment with the ruling coalition, alternating between the Conservatives and the Liberals from 1881 to 1914.


  • Carreras de Odriozola, Albert; Tafunell Sambola, Xavier (2005) [1989]. Estadísticas históricas de España, siglos XIX-XX (PDF) (in Spanish). Volume 1 (II ed.). Bilbao: Fundación BBVA. pp. 1072–1097. ISBN 84-96515-00-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. |volume= has extra text (help)


  1. ^ "Royal decree declaring dissolved the Congress of Deputies and the elective part of the Senate". Royal Decree of 28 February 1896 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  2. ^ Martorell Linares, Miguel Ángel (1997). "La crisis parlamentaria de 1913-1917. La quiebra del sistema de relaciones parlamentarias de la Restauración". Revista de Estudios Políticos. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Constitucionales (96): 139–143 (146).
  3. ^ a b c "Spanish Constitution of 1876". Act of 30 June 1876 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  4. ^ "El Senado en la historia constitucional española". senado.es (in Spanish). Senate of Spain. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ Carreras de Odriozola & Tafunell Sambola 2005, pp. 1077.
  6. ^ a b "Electoral Law for Deputies to Cortes of 1890". Electoral Law of 26 June 1890 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Electoral Law for Deputies to Cortes of 1878". Electoral Law of 28 December 1878 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Electoral Law for Senators of 1877". Electoral Law of 8 February 1877 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Law setting up rules for the election of Senators in the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico of 1879". Law of 9 January 1879 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Royal decree determining the number of Senators to be elected in each of the provinces for the occasion of the next election". Law of 30 June 1881 (PDF). Gazette of Madrid (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Cortes election 12 April 1896". historiaelectoral.com (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Graphs and analysis: Elections in the Revolutionary Sexennium and the Restoration 1869-1923". historiaelectoral.com (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 24 September 2017.

External linksEdit