Vocabulary

AMENDMENT
It is a proposal to modify a law being discussed in a Committee or a Plenary Sitting. There are two types of amendments: full, which discusses the opportunity of the text as whole; and partial or article amendments, which modify specific parts of the text. Amendments must be voted and if approved, their content is added to the text.
APPOINTED SENATOR
The Parliament of each Self-governing Community elects at least one Senator, and another for every million inhabitants in their respective territories.
BILL
Legislative initiative presented by the Government. It does not become Law until the Congress of Deputies and the Senate intervene in its drafting and approval.
BOARD OF SPOKESMEN
Body consisting of the Speaker of the Senate and the Spokespersons of the Parliamentary Groups in existence at any time. The Board of Spokesmen is involved in the decision on subjects that shall be discussed during Plenary Sittings and can make suggestions and observations on any aspect related with the operations of the Chamber.
BUREAU OF THE SENATE
Body that governs and organizes the work of the Senate. It consists of the Speaker, two Deputy Speakers and four Secretaries. Their election for each term takes place during the opening session of the Chamber.
COMMITTEE
Workgroup involving Senators specialized on a subject, which discusses, controls the Government and participates in the drafting of laws. This body represents all Parliamentary Groups.
CONGRESS OF DEPUTIES
It is comprised of both the Parliament and the Senate. The Congress of Deputies, also known as Low Chamber, consists of a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 400 Deputies elected through universal suffrage, free, equal, direct and secret. In addition, it participates in the drafting of State laws, approves its budget, controls the Government’s activities, elects the President of the Government and can withdraw its trust.
CONSTITUTIVE SITTING
First meeting held by the Plenary of the Senate after elections. The Speaker of the Senate is elected during this meeting together with the Deputy Speakers and the Secretaries of the Senate.
CORTES GENERALES
Name given to the Spanish Parliament, which consists of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. The Parliament represents the Spanish citizens, exercises the legislative power of the State, approves its budget and controls the activities of the Government.
DISSOLUTION
Decision that ends the Parliament before the end of the term it was elected for. The decision must always be accompanied of a call for new elections. In order to guarantee continuity of the Chambers, the respective Permanent Deputation protect the powers during the period of dissolution.
ELECTED SENATOR
Citizens elect four Senators in each province through universal suffrage, free, equal, direct and secret. In the case of insular provinces, each island or grouping thereof, with Insular Authority or Council, shall constitute a constituency for the purpose of electing Senators, three corresponding to each one of the larger islands - Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife – and one to each one of the following islands or groupings: Ibiza-Formentera, Menorca, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma. The towns of Ceuta and Melilla elect 2 Senators each.
GENERAL ELECTIONS
Process used in democratic systems that allows citizens to elect their representatives through a voting process. Persons of 18 years or more can vote and be elected.
GOVERNMENT
Body that drives internal and foreign affairs, the civilian and military administration as well as defence of the State. It exercises the executive function and regulatory power in compliance with the Constitution and the laws. The President of the Government must obtain the trust from the Congress of Deputies. Once it has obtained its trust, it appoints its Vice Presidents and Ministers.
GOVERNMENT CONTROL
The Senate can obtain information from the Government, submit its activities to examination and ask it to follow a given line of action. The most standard way of controlling the Government is through questions raised by the Senators.
INTERPELLATION
One of the resources available to Senators during Plenary Sittings to request explanations from the Government on general affairs.
LAW
It is the rule par excellence, as its drafting and approval involves the representatives elected by the citizens. The only limit is compliance with the Constitution. The laws are mandatory for all citizens and all authorities.
LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION
The Senate works with the Congress of Deputies on the drafting of laws, although with a certain predominance of the Congress of Deputies.
MANDATE
Period of time or term for which a Senator is elected. Normally four years, although the duration of the mandate may be shortened in the event of an early dissolution.
MOTION
Main instrument available to the Senate to drive the Government to direct its activities in a given line of action. This type of initiatives may be proposed in a Committee or during a Plenary Sitting. If the Senate approves a motion, the Government, within the following six months, must inform on its fulfilment.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL BILL
Legislative initiative presented by the Congress of Deputies, the Senate or a Parliament from a Self-governing Community. In addition, there are popular legislation initiatives. In any case, in order for these initiatives to become law, they must be discussed and voted in the Congress of Deputies and the Senate.
OFFICIAL STATE GAZETTE
The Official State Gazette, or official diary of the Spanish State (BOE), is the resource for publication of laws, provisions and acts that must be inserted. Publication of the rules is necessary to guarantee legal safety, as only what has been published can be demanded.
PARLIAMENT
In Spain it is called “Cortes Generales” (Parliament), which comprises the Congress of Deputies and the Senate. The Parliament represents the Spanish citizens, exercises the legislative power of the State, approves the budget and controls the activities of the Government.
PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS
Groupings of Senators that unite to defend common interests within the Chamber. The members are normally part of the same political party, but there may be Parliamentary Groups consisting of Senators from different political parties.
PERMANENT DEPUTATION
Body responsible for protecting the power of the Senate when not convened, either between session periods, in which case extraordinary sessions can be requested, or during the dissolution period until the incorporation of the new Chamber. It is presided by the President of the Senate and it consists of a minimum of 21 members appointed by the Parliamentary Groups in proportion to the number of members.
PLENARY SITTING
Formal meeting for which all Senators have been convened.
PLENARY SITTING HALL
The room in which the Plenary Sittings of the Senate take place and where each Senator occupies a seat. It has the shape of a semi-circle. The blue bench is located on the first row, which is where the members of the Government seat.
QUESTION
Main instrument available to Senators used to control the Government through questions that must be answered to in writing or verbally, before the Plenary Sitting or a Committee. Questions that are of exclusive interest to the person formulating them or of any other specific person are not allowed, nor those that entail inquiries that are not strictly related to legal affairs.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE
Text that combines the modifications approved by a Committee while drafting a law.
REPORTING BODY
Specialized body created within a Committee to review a specific subject (Study Reporting Body) or a law (Legislative Reporting Body). It consists of Senators from multiple Parliamentary Groups.
ROYAL SANCTION
Final phase of the legislative procedure, which verifies the law is ready to be published in the Official State Gazette. Although it is a formal act of the King, it is a mandatory duty and he cannot refuse to sanction laws.
SENATE
It is part of Parliament, together with the Congress of Deputies. The Senate is also known as the High Chamber or the House of the territorial representation. Similarly to the Congress of Deputies, it exercises functions assigned in the Constitution to Parliament: It participates in the drafting of State laws, approves the budget and controls the activities of the Government.
SENATOR
Person member of the Senate. The Senate has two types of members with the same rights and prerogatives: Senators elected directly by citizens through a majority system and Senators appointed by the Parliaments of the Self-governing Communities. All of them, regardless of how they were elected, represent the entire Spanish Nation.
SESSIONS PERIOD
Time during which the Chambers meet to execute their duties. There are two ordinary periods during each year: One from February to June and another from September to December. After these periods, extraordinary sessions can be held on request of the Permanent Deputation.
SPEAKER OF THE SENATE
The Speaker is the highest authority of the Senate, which it represents, ensures the progress of work, manages and maintains order during discussions and applies parliamentary discipline measures. He is elected during the opening session of the Chamber through the favourable vote of the absolute majority of its members.
VOTING PROCESS
Expression of the will or preference with regards to an option. During the voting process, citizens elect their representatives from the various candidates available. On voting, Senators express their opinion and contribute to the adoption of decisions. There are many different types of voting processes (by ballot, raising hand, electronic…), many different things can be expressed (in favour or against of an initiative, abstention, elect a candidate for a function...) and may require diverse majorities to adopt decisions (simple majority, absolute majority, reinforced majority...)