1979 Spanish general election
The 1979 Spanish general election was held on Thursday, 1 March 1979, to elect the 1st Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as all 208 seats in the Senate.
All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies and all 208 seats in the Senate
176 seats needed for a majority in the Congress of Deputies
Constituency results map for the Congress of Deputies
This was the first election held under the Spanish Constitution of 1978. The Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) remained the largest party, winning 168 of the 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies and 119 of the 208 seats in the Senate. As a result, Adolfo Suárez went on to form a minority government, depending on support from Manuel Fraga's Democratic Coalition, which experienced an electoral decline.
The Spanish Cortes Generales were envisaged as an imperfect bicameral system. The Congress of Deputies had greater legislative power than the Senate, having the ability to vote confidence in or withdraw it from a Prime Minister and to override Senate vetoes by an absolute majority of votes. Nonetheless, the Senate possessed a few exclusive, yet limited in number functions—such as its role in constitutional amendment—which were not subject to the Congress' override. Voting for the Cortes Generales was on the basis of universal suffrage, which comprised all nationals over eighteen and in full enjoyment of their political rights.
For the Congress of Deputies, 348 seats were elected using the D'Hondt method and a closed list proportional representation, with a threshold of 3 percent of valid votes—which included blank ballots—being applied in each constituency. Parties not reaching the threshold were not taken into consideration for seat distribution. Additionally, the use of the D'Hondt method might result in an effective threshold over three percent, depending on the district magnitude. Seats were allocated to constituencies, corresponding to the provinces of Spain. Each constituency was entitled to an initial minimum of two seats, with the remaining 248 fixed among the constituencies in proportion to their populations, at a rate of approximately one seat per each 144,500 inhabitants or fraction greater than 70,000. Ceuta and Melilla were allocated the two remaining seats, which were elected using plurality voting.
For the Senate, 208 seats were elected using an open list partial block voting, with electors voting for individual candidates instead of parties. In constituencies electing four seats, electors could vote for up to three candidates; in those with two or three seats, for up to two candidates; and for one candidate in single-member districts. Each of the 47 peninsular provinces was allocated four seats, whereas for insular provinces, such as the Balearic and Canary Islands, districts were the islands themselves, with the larger—Majorca, Gran Canaria and Tenerife—being allocated three seats each, and the smaller—Menorca, Ibiza–Formentera, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, El Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma—one each. Ceuta and Melilla elected two seats each. The law also provided for by-elections to fill seats vacated up to two years into the legislature. Additionally, autonomous communities could appoint at least one senator each and were entitled to one additional senator per each million inhabitants.
The electoral law provided that parties, federations, coalitions and groupings of electors were allowed to present lists of candidates. However, groupings of electors were required to secure the signature of at least 0.1 percent of the electors registered in the constituency for which they sought election—needing to secure, in any case, the signature of 500 electors—. Electors were barred from signing for more than one list of candidates. Concurrently, parties and federations intending to enter in coalition to take part jointly at an election were required to inform the relevant Electoral Commission within fifteen days of the election being called.
The term of the Cortes elected in the 1977 election was not to be continued beyond 15 June 1981 in the event they were not dissolved earlier. An election was required to be held within from thirty to sixty days after the date of expiry of the Cortes Generales, setting the latest possible election date for the Cortes Generales on Friday, 14 August 1981.
The Prime Minister had the prerogative to dissolve both Houses at any given time—either jointly or separately—and call a snap election, provided that no motion of no confidence was in process, no state of emergency was in force and that dissolution did not occur before one year had elapsed since the previous one. Additionally, both Houses were to be dissolved and a new election called if an investiture process failed to elect a Prime Minister within a two-month period from the first ballot.
Parties and leadersEdit
Below is a list of the main parties and coalitions which contested the election:
The table below lists voting intention estimates in reverse chronological order, showing the most recent first and using the dates when the survey fieldwork was done, as opposed to the date of publication. Where the fieldwork dates are unknown, the date of publication is given instead. The highest percentage figure in each polling survey is displayed with its background shaded in the leading party's colour. If a tie ensues, this is applied to the figures with the highest percentages. The "Lead" column on the right shows the percentage-point difference between the parties with the highest percentages in a given poll. When available, seat projections are also displayed below the voting estimates in a smaller font. 176 seats were required for an absolute majority in the Congress of Deputies.
|Polling firm/Commissioner||Fieldwork date||Sample size||Turnout||Lead|
|1979 general election||1 Mar 1979||N/A||68.0||34.8
|SFGPP/Ya[p 1]||26 Feb 1979||16,817||?||33.1
|Sofemasa/El País[i][p 2][p 3][p 4]||19–21 Feb 1979||16,869||77.7||32.9
|PSOE[p 5]||18 Feb 1979||?||65||30.0||33.0||–||–||–||–||–||3.0|
|Equipo Eidos/Europa Press[p 6]||12–14 Feb 1979||3,700||?||34.0
|RNC/ABC[i][p 7]||7 Feb 1979||2,999||73||30.6||32.3||12.9||11.3||–||2.7||–||1.7|
|PSOE[p 5]||1 Feb 1979||?||65||29.5||34.5||–||–||–||–||–||5.0|
|Sofemasa/El País[p 8][p 9]||30–31 Jan 1979||2,000||?||30.6||33.5||9.3||3.7||–||–||1.8||2.9|
|ICSA–Gallup/El Periódico[p 10]||2–29 Nov 1978||2,200||?||27.3||38.7||10.8||3.8||–||–||–||11.4|
|Sofemasa/El País[p 11][p 12]||9–11 Jun 1978||2,000||?||28.5||33.6||9.7||7.1||–||–||–||5.1|
|1977 general election||15 Jun 1977||N/A||78.8||34.4
Congress of DeputiesEdit
|Parties and coalitions||Popular vote||Seats|
|Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD)||6,268,593||34.84||+0.40||168||+3|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)1||5,469,813||30.40||–3.44||121||–3|
|Communist Party of Spain (PCE)||1,938,487||10.77||+1.44||23||+3|
|Democratic Coalition (CD)||1,094,438||6.08||–2.33||9||–7|
|Foral Union of the Basque Country (UFPV)3||34,108||0.19||–0.29||0||–1|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)4||483,353||2.69||–1.06||8||–5|
|National Union (UN)5||378,964||2.11||+1.54||1||+1|
|Socialist Party of Andalusia–Andalusian Party (PSA–PA)||325,842||1.81||New||5||+5|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV)||296,597||1.65||+0.03||7||–1|
|Party of Labour of Spain (PTE)6||192,798||1.07||+0.40||0||±0|
|Popular Unity (HB)7||172,110||0.96||+0.72||3||+3|
|Workers' Revolutionary Organization (ORT)||138,487||0.77||+0.22||0||±0|
|Navarrese Left Union (UNAI)||10,970||0.06||–0.07||0||±0|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (historical) (PSOEh)9||133,869||0.74||+0.05||0||±0|
|Republican Left of Catalonia–National Front of Catalonia (ERC–FNC)10||123,452||0.69||–0.10||1||±0|
|Basque Country Left (EE)||85,677||0.48||+0.14||1||±0|
|Communist Movement–Organization of Communist Left (MC–OIC)||84,856||0.47||+0.28||0||±0|
|Galician National-Popular Bloc (BNPG)||60,889||0.34||+0.22||0||±0|
|Canarian People's Union (UPC)||58,953||0.33||New||1||+1|
|Left Bloc for National Liberation (BEAN)||56,582||0.31||New||0||±0|
|Galician Unity (PG–POG–PSG)11||55,555||0.31||+0.16||0||±0|
|Republican Left (IR)||55,384||0.31||New||0||±0|
|Carlist Party (PC)||50,552||0.28||+0.23||0||±0|
|Communist Organization–Communist Unification (OCEBR–UCE)||47,937||0.27||New||0||±0|
|Workers' Communist Party (PCT)||47,896||0.27||New||0||±0|
|Regionalist Aragonese Party (PAR)12||38,042||0.21||+0.01||1||±0|
|Revolutionary Communist League (LCR)13||36,662||0.20||–0.02||0||±0|
|Spanish Phalanx of the CNSO (Authentic) (FE–JONS(A))||30,252||0.17||–0.08||0||±0|
|Navarrese People's Union (UPN)||28,248||0.16||New||1||+1|
|Coalition for Aragon (PSAr–PSDA)||19,220||0.11||New||0||±0|
|Nationalist Party of Castile and León (PANCAL)||16,016||0.09||New||0||±0|
|Liberal Party (PL)||15,774||0.09||New||0||±0|
|Valencian Regional Union (URV)||15,694||0.09||New||0||±0|
|Nationalist Party of the Valencian Country (PNPV)||13,828||0.08||New||0||±0|
|Spanish Ruralist Party (PRE)||10,324||0.06||New||0||±0|
|Party of the Canarian Country (PPC)||10,099||0.06||New||0||±0|
|Socialists of Majorca and Menorca (SMiM)||10,022||0.06||New||0||±0|
|Syndicalist Party (PSIN)||9,777||0.05||New||0||±0|
|Union for the Freedom of Speech (ULE)||7,126||0.04||New||0||±0|
|Catalan State (EC)||6,328||0.04||New||0||±0|
|Cantonal Party (PCAN)||6,290||0.03||New||0||±0|
|Independent Candidacy of the Countryside (CIC)||6,115||0.03||New||0||±0|
|Social Christian Democracy of Catalonia (DSCC)||4,976||0.03||–0.02||0||±0|
|Proverist Party (PPr)||4,939||0.03||±0.00||0||±0|
|Spanish Democratic Republican Action (ARDE)||4,826||0.03||New||0||±0|
|Communist League (LC)||3,614||0.02||New||0||±0|
|Asturian Nationalist Council (CNA)||3,049||0.02||New||0||±0|
|Authentic Spanish Phalanx (FEA)||2,736||0.02||New||0||±0|
|Pro-Austerity Policy Political Party (PIPPA)||2,409||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Workers and Peasants Party (POC)||2,314||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Independent Candidates of Melilla (CIME)||1,820||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Falangist Unity–Independent Spanish Phalanx (UF–FI–AT)||1,188||0.01||New||0||±0|
|Spanish Phalanx–Falangist Unity (FE–UF)||876||0.00||New||0||±0|
|Centre Independent Candidacy (INDEP)||n/a||n/a||–0.16||0||–1|
|Votes cast / turnout||18,259,192||68.04||–10.79|
|Parties and coalitions||Directly
|Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD)||118||+12||0||118|
|Centre Union of Catalonia (UCC)||1||+1||0||1|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE)1||61||+8||0||61|
|New Agreement (PSC–ERC)||10||+2||0||10|
|Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)||2||+1||0||2|
|Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV)||8||+2||0||8|
|Democratic Coalition (CD)||3||+1||0||3|
|Progressive Democratic Party (PDProg)||0||±0||0||0|
|Group of Independent Electors (ADEI)3||3||–1||0||3|
|For the Agreement (PSUC–PTC)||1||–3||0||1|
|Party of Labour of Catalonia (PTC)||0||±0||0||0|
|Convergence and Union (CiU)||1||–1||0||1|
|Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC)||0||±0||0||0|
|Popular Unity (HB)||1||+1||0||1|
|Menorcan Progressive Candidacy (PSM–PSOE–PCIB–PTI)||1||+1||0||1|
|Independent Progressives and Socialists (PSI)||0||–6||0||0|
|Democratic Left (ID)||0||–5||0||0|
|Aragonese Candidacy of Democratic Unity (CAUD)||0||–2||0||0|
|Galician Democratic Candidacy (CDG)||0||–2||0||0|
|Communist Party of Spain (PCE)||0||–1||0||0|
|Liberal Alliance (AL)||0||–1||0||0|
|Xirinacs Electoral Group (AE Xirinacs)||0||–1||0||0|
|Force for Basque Socialists' Unity (ESEI)||0||–1||0||0|
|Regionalist Aragonese Party (PAR)||0||–1||0||0|
|Basque Country Left (EE)||0||–1||0||0|
|Majorera Assembly (AM)||0||–1||0||0|
Adolfo Suárez (UCD)
|Ballot →||30 March 1979|
|Required majority →||176 out of 350|
183 / 350
149 / 350
8 / 350
10 / 350
1980 motion of no confidenceEdit
|Motion of no confidence|
Felipe González (PSOE)
|Ballot →||30 May 1980|
|Required majority →||176 out of 350|
152 / 350
166 / 350
21 / 350
11 / 350
1980 motion of confidenceEdit
|Motion of confidence|
Adolfo Suárez (UCD)
|Ballot →||18 September 1980|
|Required majority →||Simple|
180 / 350
164 / 350
2 / 350
4 / 350
Investiture of Leopoldo Calvo-SoteloEdit
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo (UCD)
|Ballot →||21 February 1981||23 February 1981||25 February 1981|
|Required majority →||176 out of 350||Simple|
169 / 350
(as a result of the
23-F coup d'etat
186 / 350
158 / 350
158 / 350
17 / 350
0 / 350
6 / 350
6 / 350
- Opinion poll sources
- "UCD, 166 escaños; PSOE, 132" (PDF). Diario 16 (in Spanish). 23 February 1979.
- "Apretada victoria de UCD frente a los socialistas, que gana posiciones". El País (in Spanish). 6 February 1979.
- "Izquierdas y derechas se reparten el electorado casi al cincuenta por ciento" (PDF). El País (in Spanish). 27 February 1979.
- "Votos y posibles escaños en cada provincia" (PDF). El País (in Spanish). 27 February 1979.
- "El PSOE se prepara para gobernar" (PDF). Diario 16 (in Spanish). 23 February 1979.
- "UCD aventaja al PSOE en dos puntos". ABC (in Spanish). 22 February 1979.
- "Dos sondeos electorales en ABC". ABC (in Spanish). 7 February 1979.
- "Equilibrio entre UCD y PSOE, con ligera ventaja socialista". El País (in Spanish). 6 February 1979.
- "Centristas y socialistas se distancian del resto de las fuerzas políticas" (PDF). El País (in Spanish). 6 February 1979.
- "Ante las municipales: PSOE, 38,7%; UCD, 27,3%". El Periódico de Catalunya (in Spanish). 17 December 1978.
- "El PSOE aventaja a UCD". El País (in Spanish). 15 June 1978.
- "Aumenta la tendencia hacia la izquierda y existen muchos indecisos" (PDF). El País (in Spanish). 15 June 1978.
- "Spanish Constitution of 1978". Act of 29 December 1978. Official State Gazette (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
- "Constitución española, Sinopsis artículo 66". congreso.es (in Spanish). Congress of Deputies. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
- Carreras et al. 1989, pp. 1077.
- Gallagher, Michael (30 July 2012). "Effective threshold in electoral systems". Trinity College, Dublin. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Electoral Rules Decree of 1977". Royal Decree-Law No. 20 of 18 March 1977. Official State Gazette (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 December 2016.
- "Constitution" (PDF). congreso.es. Congress of Deputies. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- "Electoral Results Consultation. Congress. March 1979. National totals". infoelectoral.mir.es (in Spanish). Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "General election 1 March 1979". historiaelectoral.com (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "Electoral Results Consultation. Senate. March 1979. National totals". infoelectoral.mir.es (in Spanish). Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "Senate Election 1979". historiaelectoral.com (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "Senate Composition 1977-2017". historiaelectoral.com (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "Congress of Deputies: Most important votes". historiaelectoral.com (in Spanish). Electoral History. Retrieved 28 September 2017.