The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 45.2 m
Capital Madrid
Surface area 506,000 km2
Official Languages Castilian is the official language of the Spanish state; Catalan is an official language in Catalonia, and Basque in the Basque Country
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 1,132 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 8.5
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 103.4
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.949
World rank in HDI 27/177
Key economic sectors (% of GDP in 2002) Services (66.5); industry (30.1); agriculture (3.4)
Leading companies Telefónica SA (mobile phone network); Banco Santander Central Hispanico (bank); Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (bank)
Unemployment in January 2010 18.8% (source:
Main religious denominations (numbers in millions) Roman Catholic (42.3); other Christians (0.25); Muslim (0.45)
Political system A constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a bicameral legislature, the lower house called the Congress of Deputies, the upper house the Senate. The prime minister appoints the cabinet, but need not choose every member from the parliament.
Electoral system Proportional representation from closed party lists for the Congress of Deputies; a simple majority system according to regional quotas for the Senate.
Current (March 2010) leaders Prime minister: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (b. 1960), since March 2004
Previous leaders: Prime ministers: José María Aznar (1996-2004); Felipe Gonzalez (1982-96); Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo (1981-82)
Joined the EU/EC 1986
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Joaquín Almunia (Competition, Vice-President of the Commission)
Number of MEPs 54/745
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 46.0
Member of eurozone Yes (founder member)

Except where a specific reference is inserted, the sources for this profile are either Neill Nugent’s book itself, or Barry Turner (ed.), The Statesman’s Yearbook Online, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. If your library subscribes, you can gain access at