In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Spanish Politics and Government

  • Introduction
  • General Books
  • Political Institutions
  • Multilevel Governance
  • Center-Periphery Conflict
  • Parties and Party System
  • Political Crisis and New Parties in Spain
  • Electoral System
  • Public Opinion

Political Science Spanish Politics and Government
Lluis Orriols, Alvaro Fernández
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 November 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0370


Spain became a full democracy in 1977 after nearly four decades of Franco’s dictatorship. Since then, the scientific production on different topics related to Spanish democracy, politics, and government has been extensive, in both Spanish and English language. This article collects some of the major and most influential contributions of this rather broad area of study. We assume that many of those interested in this bibliographic revision may probably be scholars with limited knowledge of the Spanish language. Therefore, this article has prioritized, when possible, the selection of references in English. This article starts by providing some of the most useful overviews on Spanish politics. These essays and edited handbooks represent a good starting point for researchers new to any relevant topic about Spanish politics. Next, we focus on the main political institutions in Spain. We put the focus especially on the executive power, which is the most researched institution by political science scholars in Spain. One of the main defining characteristics of the Spanish political system is its multilevel governance. We dedicate two sections to this topic: the former takes a more institutional approach (multilevel governance) and the latter focuses on the center-periphery political conflict. The subsequent sections delve into the Spanish party system, the main political parties, and the nature and consequences of the electoral system. The Great Recession and Debt Crisis (2008–2014) had notorious consequences on Spanish politics, especially on the party system. New statewide parties emerged, such as Podemos, Ciudadanos and Vox. We dedicate a separate section to this topic, summarizing the extensive production on the political crisis and the rise of new parties since the Great Recession. The final two sections cover relevant research on public opinion and elections at the national, regional, and local levels.

General Books

This section provides a selected bibliography of some of the most relevant overviews of Spanish politics. Researchers may find in these general handbooks an initial guidance on the main issues in the field, such as institutions, political culture, elections, and foreign affairs, among others. Gunther, et al. 2004 goes beyond an introductory textbook and also provides original research. Montabes and Martinez 2019 mainly focuses on institutions and actors, and Magone 2008 puts greater emphasis on Spain-EU relations. Researchers may find in Muro and Lago 2020 the most comprehensive overview of Spanish politics to date.

  • Gunther, R., J. R. Montero, and J. Botella. Democracy in Modern Spain. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.12987/9780300161861

    A comprehensive essay of the origins and main elements of the Spanish political system: political institutions, parties, party system, political culture, electoral behavior, and policymaking.

  • Magone, J. M. Contemporary Spanish Politics. London: Routledge, 2008.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203890776

    A general handbook for an introductory understanding of Spanish politics with chapters that cover the classic topics in the field such as institutions, parties, interest groups, mass media, political culture, electoral behavior, regional politics, and EU-Spain relations.

  • Montabes, J., and A. Martínez, eds. Gobierno y política en España. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch, 2019.

    A complete introductory analysis of the main political institutions and actors in Spanish politics. It also covers other topics related to political behavior and culture. An essential introductory book on how the Spanish political system works.

  • Muro, D., and I. Lago, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Spanish Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

    The most ambitious handbook on Spanish politics; covers a wide variety of topics from political behavior and institutions to public policies and foreign policy, written by some of the most influential scholars and researchers in the field.

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