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The Spanish government departments, commonly known as Ministries, are the main bodies through which the Government of Spain exercise its executive authority. They are also the top level of the General State Administration. The ministerial departments and their organization are created by the Prime Minister and all of them are headed by a Cabinet member called Minister.

Although the main organization is established by the Premier, the Ministers have autonomy to organize its own department and to appoint the high-ranking officials of the ministries. It includes the possibility of ministers without portfolio, which are minister-level officials entrusted with an specific task and that do not head a department.

There are currently 17 ministerial departments.


The Ministers or Government Ministers (historically Ministers of the Crown) are, after the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers, the highest officials of the State Administration and together they form the Government of the Nation, which main decision-making-body is the Council of Ministers.

Appointment and dismissalEdit

The ministers are appointed and dismissed by the Monarch at the proposal of the President of the Government.[1]

Both appointment and dismissal, to be effective, must to be published at the Official State Gazette, although exists some specific cases, previous to the approval of the 1997 Government Act, which dismissal was not published. Those cases are Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, minister without portfolio between 1976 and 1977 and Francisco Fernández Ordóñez, Minister of Justice from 1980 to 1981.[2]

Unlike the portfolio ministers, the dismissal of ministers without portfolio entails the extinction of all the ministerial structure that supports it.


According to the Government Act, the ministers, as heads of their departments, have competence and responsibility in the specific sphere of their actions, and they are responsible for exercising the following functions:[1]

  • To develop the action of the Government within the scope of its department, in accordance with the agreements adopted in the Council of Ministers or with the orders of the Prime Minister.
  • To exercise the regulatory power in the matters specific to his department.
  • To exercise the powers attributed to them by laws, the rules of organization and functioning of the Government and any other norm.
  • To countersign, when necessary, the acts of the Sovereign in the sphere of its responsibilities.

The ministers, as members of the Government, meet in the following collective bodies:


The substitution of the ministers must be determined by a Royal Decree of the Prime Minister, and always has to fall on another member of the Government. The Royal Decree must express the cause and character of the substitution.[1]

The only substitution that has taken place since the entry into force of the 1997 Government Act has been that of the Minister of Defense in May 2008. Minister Carme Chacón used her right to maternity leave and her responsibilities were temporary assumed by the Interior Minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.[3]

Minister without portfolioEdit

These have been the ministers without portfolio that have existed since the transition to democracy:[2]

Portfolio Name and term
Deputy Minister for the Regions
Deputy Minister for Relations with the Cortes
Minister for Relations with the European Communities
Minister attached to the Prime Minister
Deputy Minister for Public Administration
Deputy Minister for Legislative Coordination
Minister-Spokesperson of the Government

Internal organizationEdit

Ministries may have Secretariats of State and, exceptionally, General Secretariats (with rank of undersecretariat) for the management of a sector of administrative activity. The executive bodies that are assigned to them are hierarchically dependent on them. The ministries have, in any case, an Undersecretariat and, depending on it, a General Technical Secretariat for the management of common services (HR, budget, assets, websites, security...).

On the other hand are the Directorates-General, which are the management bodies of one or several functionally homogeneous areas. The directorates-general are organized in deputy directorates-general for the management of the competences entrusted to it. However, deputy directorates-general may be directly attached to other higher level management bodies or to higher bodies of the ministry.[6]

Creation, modification and suppressionEdit

Before of the approval of the 1997 Government Act, the Ministries and Secretariats of State had to be created by law, normally by a direct law passed by the Government in the form of Royal Decree-Law. After, the Government Act allowed the Prime Minister to approve a Royal Decree  (secondary legislation) designing the government structure.

Currently, the Prime Minister only creates the Ministries and some of the highest bodies (like secretariats of State and Undersecretariats) while the principal internal organization is delegated into the ministers, which develop the structure of the bodies created by the Premier or create new ones. The order of the Minister is also a royal decree signed the Monarch and countersigned by the minister responsible for the public administration at the proposal of the competent minister.

The lowest bodies such as deputy directorates-general are created by a Ministerial Order (ranked below the royal decree) of the competent minister.[6]


The ministers are the superior heads of the department and direct hierarchical superiors of the secretaries of State. The executive bodies depend on the previous ones and they are hierarchically ordered among themselves in the following way: undersecretary, director general and deputy director general. The general secretaries have the rank of undersecretary and the technical general secretaries have the rank of director general.

Ministerial hierarchy:[6]

  • Minister.
    • Secretaries of State.
      • Undersecretaries and General Secretaries.
        • Directors general and technical general secretaries.
          • Deputy directors general.

Current ministriesEdit

On 6 June 2018, Prime Minister Sánchez announced his ministers which assumed their offices on June 7.[7]

Logo Portfolio Minister Picture First creation Current name Address Website
  Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Luis Planas Puchades 1900 1981 Paseo de la Infanta Isabel 1
  Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Josep Borrell Fontelles 1714 2018 Plaza de la Provincia, 1
  Science, Innovation and Universities Pedro Francisco Duque 1979 2018 Paseo de la Castellana 162
  Culture and Sport José Guirao Cabrera 1977 2018 Plaza del Rey 1
  Defence Margarita Robles Fernández 1705 1977 Paseo de la Castellana 109
  Economy and Business Nadia María Calviño Santamaria 1928 2018 Paseo de la Castellana 162
  Education and Vocational Training María Isabel Celaá Diéguez 1900 2018 Calle de Alcalá 34
  Development José Luis Ábalos Meco 1832 1996 Paseo de la Castellana 67
  Finance María Jesús Montero 1705 1851 Calle de Alcalá 5
  Industry, Trade and Tourism María Reyes Maroto Illera 1933 1991 Paseo de la Castellana 160
  Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska 1812 1977 Calle Amador de los Ríos 7
  Justice Dolores Delgado García 1714 1931 Calle de San Bernardo 45
  Territorial Policy and Civil Service Luis Planas Puchades 1979 2018 Paseo de la Castellana 3
  Presidency, Relations with the Cortes and Equality María del Carmen Calvo Poyato 1951 2018 Avenida Puerta de Hierro
  Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare María Luisa Carcedo 1936 2018 Paseo del Prado 18
  Labour, Migrations and Social Security Magdalena Valerio 1920 2018 Paseo de la Castellana 63
  Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera 1996 2018 Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz


  1. ^ a b c "1991 Government Act". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  2. ^ a b "Urquijo Goitia, José Ramón. «Relación Cronológica de Gabinetes»". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  3. ^ Burnett, Victoria (2008-05-20). "Spanish defense minister begins maternity leave". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  4. ^ "Royal Decree 561/2000, of April 27, by which Government Ministers are appointed". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  5. ^ "Royal Decree 776/2002, of July 26, by which the organic structure of the Ministry of the Presidency is modified". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  6. ^ a b c "2015 Legal Regime of the Public Sector Act". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  7. ^ Minder, Raphael (2018-06-06). "Spain's New Leader Forms Government With Almost Two-Thirds Women". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-16.