Spanish general election, 1986

Spanish general election, 1986
22 June 1986

All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies and 208 (of 254) seats in the Senate
176 seats needed for a majority in the Congress of Deputies
Opinion polls
Registered 29,117,613 Increase8.5%
Turnout 20,524,858 (70.5%)
Decrease9.5 pp
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Felipe González Manuel Fraga Adolfo Suárez
Leader since 13 October 1974 9 October 1976 29 July 1982
Leader's seat Madrid Madrid Madrid
Last election 202 seats, 48.1% 107 seats, 26.4%[lower-alpha 1] 2 seats, 2.9%
Seats won 184 105 19
Seat change Decrease18 Decrease2 Increase17
Popular vote 8,901,718 5,247,677 1,861,912
Percentage 44.1% 26.0% 9.2%
Swing Decrease4.0 pp Decrease0.4 pp Increase6.3 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Miquel Roca Gerardo Iglesias Iñaki Anasagasti
Leader since 12 March 1980 10 December 1982 1986
Leader's seat Barcelona Madrid Biscay
Last election 12 seats, 3.7%[lower-alpha 2] 4 seats, 4.2%[lower-alpha 3] 8 seats, 1.9%
Seats won 19[lower-alpha 4] 7 6
Seat change Increase7 Increase3 Decrease2
Popular vote 1,288,768 935,504 309,610
Percentage 6.4% 4.6% 1.5%
Swing Increase2.7 pp Increase0.4 pp Decrease0.4 pp

Most voted party by autonomous community and province.

Prime Minister before election

Felipe González

Elected Prime Minister

Felipe González

The 1986 Spanish general election was held on Sunday, 22 June 1986, to elect the 3rd Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. All 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies were up for election, as well as 208 of 254 seats in the Senate.

The election was held after the referendum on Spanish membership in NATO in March 1986 had resulted in a surprising win for the 'In' camp headed by Prime Minister Felipe González. Reinforced from the referendum result, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) sought to take advantage of the favorable political situation. The election resulted in the PSOE winning a second consecutive—albeit diminished—majority with 184 out of 350 seats. Its immediate competitor, Manuel Fraga's People's Coalition, an electoral alliance formed by People's Alliance (AP), the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Liberal Party (PL), remained stagnant with a similar result to the one obtained in 1982 by the AP–PDP coalition. The disappointing election result caused the Coalition to break apart shortly afterwards.

Former PM Adolfo Suárez's Democratic and Social Centre (CDS) came out in third place with nearly 1.9 million votes, 9.2% of the share and 19 seats. The Communist Party of Spain (PCE) contested the election within the newborn left-wing United Left (IU) coalition, slightly improving on the PCE's result in 1982 with 4.6% and 7 seats and holding its own against the Communists' Unity Board (MUC), Santiago Carrillo's split party founded after him being expelled from the PCE, which won no seats.


Electoral system

The Spanish legislature, the Cortes Generales (Spanish for General Courts), was composed of two chambers at the time of the 1986 election:

This bicameral system was regarded as asymmetric, as while legislative initiative belonged to both chambers—as well as to the Government—the Congress had greater legislative power than the Senate, and it could override most of the Senate initiatives by an absolute majority of votes. Furthermore, only Congress had the ability to grant or revoke confidence from a Prime Minister. Nonetheless, the Senate possessed a few exclusive, yet limited in number functions which were not subject to the Congress' override.[1]

Settled customary practice had been to dissolve and hold elections for both chambers at the same time, thus triggering a "general" election. Article 115 of the Spanish Constitution allowed, however, for each chamber to be elected separately. The electoral system in Spain was on the basis of universal suffrage in a secret ballot.

Congress of Deputies

For the Congress of Deputies, 348 members were elected in 50 multi-member districts using the D'Hondt method and closed-list proportional representation for four-year terms. In addition, Ceuta and Melilla elected one member each using plurality voting. Each district was entitled to an initial minimum of two seats, with the remaining 248 seats being allocated among the 50 provinces in proportion to their populations. Only lists polling above 3% of the total vote in each district (which included blank ballots—for none of the above) were entitled to enter the seat distribution. However, in most districts there was a higher effective threshold at the constituency level, depending on the district magnitude.[2]

For the 1986 election, seats were distributed as follows:

Seat distribution for the 1986 election[3][4]
Seats Districts
33 × 2 = 66 Barcelona and Madrid(+1)
16 × 1 = 16 Valencia(+1)
12 × 1 = 12 Seville
10 × 2 = 20 Alicante(+1) and Biscay
9 × 4 = 36 Asturias(–1) Cádiz(+1), La Coruña and Málaga(+1)
8 × 3 = 24 Murcia, Pontevedra and Zaragoza
7 × 4 = 28 Córdoba, Gipuzkoa, Granada, and Las Palmas(+1)
6 × 4 = 24 Badajoz(–1), Balearic Islands, Jaén(–1) and Santa Cruz de Tenerife(–1)
5 × 14 = 70 Almería, Cáceres, Castellón, Cantabria, Ciudad Real, Gerona, Huelva, León(–1), Lugo,
Navarre, Orense, Tarragona, Toledo and Valladolid
4 × 7 = 28 Álava, Albacete, Burgos, Lérida, La Rioja and Salamanca and Zamora
3 × 9 = 24 Ávila, Cuenca(–1), Guadalajara, Huesca, Palencia, Segovia, Soria and Teruel
1 × 2 = 2 Ceuta and Melilla
= 350 Total seats

For the Senate, each of the 47 peninsular districts (the provinces) was assigned four seats. For the insular provinces, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, districts were the islands themselves, with the larger—Mallorca, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife—being assigned three seats each, and the smaller—Menorca, Ibiza-Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma—one each. Ceuta and Melilla were assigned two seats each, for a total of 208 directly elected seats. The system used was that of limited voting. In districts 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 constituencies. Electors voted for individual candidates; those attaining the largest number of votes in each district were elected for four-year terms.

In addition, the legislative assemblies of the autonomous communities were entitled to appoint at least one senator each, and one senator for every million inhabitants, adding a variable number of appointed seats to the 208 directly elected senators.[5] This appointment usually did not take place at the same time as the general election, but after the autonomous communities held their respective elections.


Dual membership of both chambers of the Cortes or of the Cortes and regional assemblies was prohibited, meaning that candidates had to resign from regional assemblies if elected. Active judges, magistrates, ombudsmen, serving military personnel, active police officers and members of constitutional and electoral tribunals were also ineligible,[6] as well as CEOs or equivalent leaders of state monopolies and public bodies, such as the Spanish state broadcaster RTVE.[4]

Parties and coalitions of different parties which had registered with the Electoral Commission could present lists of candidates. Groups of electors which had not registered with the commission could also present lists, provided that they obtained the signatures of 1% of registered electors in a particular district.[4]


Felipe González was invested as Prime Minister of Spain by the Congress of Deputies on December 2, 1982, becoming the first leftist Spanish head of government in 43 years. His party, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), had won an unprecedented landslide victory in that year's general election which opened the II Legislature, forming a majority government as a result. The Socialists' access to power raised hopes among broad sectors of the society who expected major changes, while caused concern within the more conservative circles about the measures that would be carried out. The PSOE would also achieve a massive victory in the municipal and regional elections of May 1983, in which it would gain control over most of the autonomous communities and provincial capitals' governments.

Economic crisis

In its first months in power, the new Socialist government had to face a worsening economic situation: inflation was running at an annual rate of 15%, the external current account was at US$4 billion, the unemployment rate had risen to 17% by the beginning of 1983 and public deficit was at 6%, while the GDP was growing at a rate of 1.3% to the OCDE forecast of 2.5%.[7][8][9] Miguel Boyer was named as new Economy Minister, taking first measures such as the devaluation of the peseta by 8% or the increase by 1 point of the cash reserve ratio for banks with the aim of stabilizing the current account balance for 1983.[10] On February 23, 1983, the PSOE government expropriated the Rumasa holding due to its financial situation and because of alleged fraudulent practices and continuous evasion from the inspection activity of the Bank of Spain.[11] Other of the government's first measures were to fulfill the PSOE's election pledge to reduce work time to 40-hour week and to establish a minimum legal annual leave of 30 days and a lunch break of 15 minutes.[12][13]

González' government then went on to carry out an unpopular economic stabilization plan involving a process of industrial restructuring, leading to the closure of many obsolete industries and a job loss that, by 1985, would raise the unemployment rate to 21.5%.[14] By this time, it had become obvious that the PSOE would not be able to maintain its election pledge to create 800,000 jobs in four years and, as unemployment grew, opposition parties even mocked the government about the fact that they would actually destroy 800,000 jobs.[15][16] A reform of the pension system was implemented in 1985, which lengthened the period used to calculate full pension benefits from 10 to 15 years and adopted a new system for the revaluation of pensions, to be done automatically every year and in proportion to the expected inflation rate. The retirement age was maintained at 65, despite the PSOE pledge to reduce it to 64.[17] While these plans were defended by Felipe González in that they were vital for economic recovery and an eventual economic equalization of Spain with the rest of Europe,[18] they received widespread criticism from trade unions (including the historically Socialist-associated UGT) as well as from Socialist militants that "could not believe that Felipe was able to do this to us", leading to strikes and demonstrations opposing the government's economic policy.[15][19] It was also during González' first term that a new labor reform was approved, which included fiscal incentives to investment, added protection for unemployed and the easing of temporality through the implementation of fixed-term contracts.[20] In 1985, Boyer was succeeded as Economy Minister by Carlos Solchaga who, in general terms, maintained the economic policy of his predecessor.

Domestic affairs

The II Legislature (1982–1986) also highlighted the social character of the new government. In 1984 a reform of the Spanish health care system begins, culminating in the approval in 1986 of the General Health Law, which established the Spanish National Health System and settled the legal basis for universal health care in Spain,[15] expected to reach 98% of the population according to governmental sources.[21][22] The Socialists also undertook the first steps to decriminalize abortion in Spain through the Organic Law 9/1985, which allowed induced abortion in three cases: therapeutic (in case of serious risk to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman) during the first 12 weeks; criminological (cases where the woman was raped) during the first 22 weeks; and eugenic (in case of malformations or defects, physical or mental, in the fetus) at any time during pregnancy.[16][23] It also established free and compulsory education until the age of 16 through the Organic Law 8/1985 regulating the right to education,[24][25] and reorganized the university system, adapting it to the precepts of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, through the University Reform Law of 1983 (LRU).[26]

During these years, a proper electoral law was conceived, as until that time Spanish elections came regulated under provisional decrees and scattered regulation that for a long time were requested to be unified in a single text. The electoral system remained essentially the same, with the new law centering on unification of electoral legislation and the regulation of more technical issues.

Prime Minister Felipe González came briefly involved in the German Flick affair in 1984, when SPD MP Peter Struck said in the German press that another MP from his party, Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski, had given 1 million Marks from the corruption plot to González himself. This led to a remarkable statement from the Spanish Prime Minister: "I have not received a single mark, a single penny, a single peseta, neither from Flick nor from Flock".[27] Felipe González was later acquitted from the Flick scandal by the subsequent inquiry commission in Congress.[28]

González' first term as Prime Minister was also marked by a harsh hostile campaign from ETA, with around one hundred dead throughout the 1982–1986 period as a result of terrorist activity. The Socialist government promised a "firm reaction" in response, with Felipe González stating in a speech November 1983 that "This government will not allow a quiet life to those who harbor terror and crime", announcing measures such as the aggravation of penalties for crimes of terrorism.[24][29] It would be during this period and until 1987 that the GAL (acronym for "Antiterrorist Liberation Group") were illegally established and funded by government officials to fight ETA, starting what was to be known as the guerra sucia (Spanish for "dirty war"), which would be unveiled in the early 1990s.

Finally, the PSOE had to deal with the issue of military insurrectionism as well. The Spanish Armed Forces were profoundly reorganized: the position of Chief of Joint Chiefs of Staff (JUJEM), which itself underwent internal reforms (including a full renovation of all of its members),[30] was subordinated to the newly created Chief of the Defence Staff (JEMAD), in turn directly responsible to the Defence Minister, promoting an increase of civil authority over the military.[31] It also passed into law two bills that provided, on the one hand, a reduction in the number of high-ranking officers (which was considered oversized), also allowing for long-serving officers to retire in exchange of economic incentives; on the other hand, a 15% increase in wages for members of the Armed Forces, equating military wages to the level of those from civil service personnel with similar responsibilities.[32] Finally, the three armies (Army, Navy and Air Force) were integrated within the organizational and functional structure of the Ministry of Defence.[33] With these reforms the Socialists intended to professionalise the Armed Forces and end the threat of military coup attempts that had lingered during the previous year, with the ultimate goal of consolidating democracy in Spain.


Considered as one of the major policy success of the first Socialist government, the Spanish entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) took place on January 1, 1986, after a long process of negotiations that had started in 1979. The integration process had been delayed as a result of several factors, among them the structure of the Spanish economy, which conflicted with European interests (especially in areas such as agriculture and fishing, motivating France to ask for a revision of the Common Agricultural Policy before Spain's accession); but also because the EEC was still undergoing budgetary internal problems resulting from the 1973 oil crisis. These factors hindered and prolonged the negotiations.[34] However, the French position was easened after Felipe González' arrival to government in 1982, having a good relationship with also Socialist French President François Mitterrand. Spain, together with Portugal, signed the Act of Accession to the EEC on 12 June 1985 and became officially an EEC member on 1 January 1986, thus ending with a long period of isolation from Europe.[35][36]

The Spanish entry into the EEC was regarded as one of the major political successes of Felipe González' first government.

Meanwhile, PSOE's stance on NATO came closely linked with the negotiations for Spain's entry into the EEC. The PSOE had campaigned in 1982 for the holding of a referendum on the issue after Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo's unpopular move to enter NATO in May 1982, and it had also opposed the country's permanence within the Atlantic Alliance. However, once in power Felipe González' stance evolved to one of support to NATO.[37] According to Santos Juliá, the main factors that influenced the PSOE government's change of attitude were "pressure from the United States and several European countries; the connection between staying in NATO and Spain–EEC negotiations and the growing favorable stance of the Spanish Defence Ministry to attain closer ties with the Alliance".[38] By 1985, as Spain had signed the Act of Accession to the EEC, preparations for the referendum on NATO membership started, being eventually held on 12 March 1986. Previously, González had to convince of the new government's stance to his own party in the 30th party congress held in December 1984, and the turnaround on the NATO issue led to the resignation of his Foreign Minister, Fernando Morán, in disagreement with him.[39]

During the referendum campaign, the PSOE was virtually left alone at the national level campaigning for NATO membership support, as the PCE (which later in the year would go on to form the United Left coalition) opposed Spain's permanence within NATO, while the main opposition AP, considered as a pro-NATO party, asked for an abstention in the referendum. In words of David Ruiz, this would be a "painful strategy... to discredit the political career of its founder, Manuel Fraga, as an aspirant to the Government of the State".[40] Finally, the NATO permanence option won the vote by a surprising 53.1% to 40.3% (with 6.6% casting blank ballots), and the PSOE came out reinforced.

Division within the opposition

In the aftermath of the 1982 election, the negative result, growing membership losses and a mounting debt burden ended up in the dissolution of the Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) in February 1983.[41][42] This left a political vacuum (with 1.4 million UCD votes in the 28 October election now virtually orphaned) that other parties attempted to occupy, namely the newly established People's Coalition (a political alliance led by People's Alliance (AP) but also comprising the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the Liberal Party (PL) and a number of regional-based parties), Adolfo Suárez's Democratic and Social Centre (CDS) or the Catalan-based Convergence and Union (CiU). It was from the People's Coalition that AP leader Manuel Fraga tried to build on his idea of the "natural majority": an electoral space that would bring together all political sectors from the centre and the right and all non-Socialists and non-separatists. Fraga remained confident that this strategy was the answer to an eventual victory in a general election and to forming an alternative government to the PSOE.[43]

At the same time, Catalan politician Miquel Roca Junyent tried to enter national politics by founding the Democratic Reformist Party (PRD), supported by CiU, the Liberal Democratic Party (PDL) of Antonio Garrigues Walker, the Galician Coalition (CG), the Riojan Party (PR) and the Majorcan Union (UM), with the aim of "capturing the 5 million votes of the political centre".[44] The party's founding congress took place in November 1984, and its foundation was considered a major political operation, counting with the support of different economic sectors and including some notable figures (Florentino Pérez, later to become President of the Real Madrid C.F., was named as PRD's Secretary–General), in response to the UCD collapse and the PSOE's arrival to government. The process of formation and preparation of the party to contest the next general election was to be popularly known as Operation Roca, in reference to its main promoter.[45][46] Meanwhile, Adolfo Suárez' CDS experienced a period of economic expansion and membership growth, and also announced its intention to enter the political arena to contest the hotly contested battle for the political centre that was now considered to exist between the PSOE to the left and AP to the right.[47][48] As attempts at forming a common alliance between the three political forces failed throughout 1985,[49][50] it was confirmed that all three forces would contest separately the 1986 general election.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) experienced its own internal crisis. After the devastating results of the 1982 election, party leader Santiago Carrillo resigned and was succeeded by Gerardo Iglesias. Following the XI Congress on 18 December 1983, the PCE found itself deeply divided between the three main factions within the party: the "carrillistas" under Carrillo, the "pro-Soviet" sector under Ignacio Gallego and Iglesias' "renovators", with the latter taking control of the party's leadership.[51] Internal disagreements resulted in Gallego's pro-Soviet faction splitting from the party shortly afterwards, giving birth to the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE) in early 1984.[52] Finally, the expulsion of Carrillo's faction from the party's Central Committee in April 1985 led to Carrillo's supporters also splitting into the Workers' Party of Spain–Communist Unity (PTE-UC).[53][54]

Early election call

While the 1986 general election was initially expected for October, the opinion that a snap election would be held in June alongside the scheduled Andalusian regional election kept growing after it was known that some PSOE sectors were pressuring González for an early Parliament dissolution. Among the reasons behind an early electoral call were the party's increased popularity (according to opinion polls) after the March referendum on NATO membership, and savings worth 300 million pesetas to the State Treasury in Andalusia by avoiding the celebration of two separate elections in June and October. In early April, several government members, such as spokesperson Javier Solana, stated that "the Executive's will is to exhaust the legislature and therefore, to hold the election in October",[55] while Deputy Prime Minister Alfonso Guerra, asked on the possibility of a snap election, remained ambiguous on the issue and said that "there are as many reasons to do so as not to, although it is normal that a party that has a majority ends the legislature".[56] Felipe González himself stated that he had not studied the eventuality of calling an early election for summer and that "October is a symbolic date to be respected", but did not deny the existence of calls within both his Cabinet and party in favor of holding an election in June. He said that his intention, nonetheless, was to "end the legislature".[57][58] Leaders of the main opposition party, People's Alliance, were confident that a snap election would be held, arguing that "the PSOE's program is exhausted, has no proposals to make to the electorate in the remaining months between now and October, which are all but a prolonged agony",[59] and also accusing the PSOE of making preparations that signaled an imminent election campaign.[60] Finally, on April 21, Felipe González announced his intention to dissolve Parliament and call a snap election for June 22, explaining that it was his wish to prevent "political uncertainties" resulting from an autumn election that could affect the country's economic prospects during the making of the 1987 state budget.[61]

Opinion polling


Party slogans

Spanish Socialist Workers' Party

The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party under Felipe González campaigned on a continuity platform, emphasizing on the idea of progress and trying to highlight that the party's management of government during the previous four years had been positive for the country. The democratization process after the turbulent years of the early 1980s was deemed as having been fully completed, the military insurrectionism threat had been vanquished, Spain had been integrated within Europe and the economic crisis was easening, with the brunt of the industrial conversion having been dealt with in the first years of Socialist government.[65] It also tried to deliver on the idea that the party's programme was not yet fulfilled, with many proposals still left to be carried out.[63] Another message of the Socialist electoral campaign revolved around the idea that a non-Socialist government would revert the political and social advances accomplished in the previous years, with PM González himself warning of a possible alternative coalition between the various centre and centre-right parties in case the PSOE lost its absolute majority.[66]

There were notable divergences from the campaigning style of 1982: González himself, being now the Prime Minister, had a busy public agenda and was only able to participate in large campaign events during weekends, having little time to maintain direct contact with party militants.[67] He also wanted to distance himself from direct confrontation to the other parties' candidates, usually leaving that task to Deputy Prime Minister Alfonso Guerra and other PSOE leaders, in order to emphazise his image as Chief of the Executive.[68] The PSOE's electoral manifesto for the 1986 election also avoided making any concrete pledges such as those done in 1982.[69]

Opposition parties had accused the PSOE government of a rudely style of ruling, of arrogance, of little austerity and of informational opacity, a result, according to them, of the large absolute majority of seats it had obtained in the 1982 election. Thus, one of the PSOE's self-imposed objectives during the election campaign was to maintain that absolute majority. In the end, the PSOE would win the election but with a significantly reduced majority of 184 seats, compared to the 202-strong majority achieved in 1982.[70]

People's Coalition

People's Coalition logo (1986).

The People's Alliance, the People's Democratic Party and the Liberal Party contested the election in a common ticket under the People's Coalition label. Some regionalist parties in different autonomous communities, such as the Navarrese People's Union in Navarre, also joined the coalition, who was to be led into the election by AP leader Manuel Fraga.[71]

Its campaign centered into criticising the González' government record in office, accusing the PSOE of breaking many of its 1982 election pledges and asking voters to support an alternative to the Socialists, with Fraga opening the possibility to invite other parties, specially the CDS and the PRD, into a coalition government aimed at ousting the PSOE from power.[63][72] The Coalition released an election programme which was described as a mixture of economic neoliberalism and social conservatism. Among the Coalition's election pledges were the privatization of public companies (the most notable example being TVE 2) and of the healthcare assistance system in order to reduce tax burden and public spending; the implementation of a national plan against drugs; the illegalization of HB and tougher penalties for terrorists (going as far as to promise an end to ETA terrorism within 6 months); a repeal of the newly approved abortion law and a revision of the divorce law.[73]

The Coalition was criticised for its perceived right-wing stance, with serious difficulties to define an alternative policy to the PSOE, a weak opposition stance to González' government (virtually trailing the Socialists on every issue) and a lack of initiative. The Coalition's call for abstention in the March referendum (despite the party's official stance favouring Spain permanence within NATO) had been a fatal blow to its expectations in the upcoming general election, being seen, on the one hand, as a gesture of political opportunism in an attempt to weaken Felipe González' position and, on the other hand, as showing a lack of political guidance. Instead, the 'Yes' landslide victory had reinforced the PSOE in the eyes of public opinion, but the Coalition's position on the referendum was met with skepticism and disapproval from other centre-right parties, both nationally and internationally.[74]

United Left

United Left logo (1986). It would not be until 1988 that a specific logo for IU would be designed.

The roots for the United Left (IU) coalition originated during the protests to demand the exit of Spain from NATO in 1986, with the "Platform of the United Left". While the 1986 referendum had resulted in the country's permanence within NATO, sectors to the left of the PSOE sought to form an unitary candidacy for the 1986 general election aimed at representing the nearly 7 million voters that had shown their position against such a permanence. Aside from the PCE, which was to become IU's main member party, also joining the coalition were the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC), the Socialist Action Party (PASOC), the Republican Left (IR), the PCPE or the Collective for the Unity of Workers-Andalusian Left Bloc (CUT-BAI), among others.[75]

Aside from its anti-NATO stance, the IU coalition also opposed the Socialist government's recent industrial conversion, which had been carried out almost unilaterally and with little to no talks with trade unions, thanks to the PSOE absolute majority in Congress.[76] IU campaigned on a left-wing platform, accusing the PSOE of abandoning its socialist roots and of applying liberal policies. On the international stage, IU promised to bring Spain out of NATO, the dismantling of US bases and the withdrawal of US troops from Spanish soil, as well as to counter "the harmful consequences of integration within the EEC, a conception of Europe against the interests of multinationals and imperialism and to support initiatives for the elimination of nuclear weapons and against the militarization of space." On the domestic stage, IU's pledges included nationalizations in the banking and energy sectors. It also provided for large investments in the public sector, an agrarian reform and a federal model of state which provided for "the full development of the rights of nationalities and regions".[77]


Congress of Deputies

Summary of the 22 June 1986 Congress of Deputies election results
Party Popular vote Seats
Votes % ±pp Won +/−
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 8,901,718 44.06 –4.05 184 –18
People's Coalition (APPDPPL)[lower-alpha 1] 5,247,677 25.97 –0.39 105 –2
Democratic and Social Centre (CDS) 1,861,912 9.22 +6.35 19 +17
United Left (IU)[lower-alpha 3] 935,504 4.63 +0.46 7 +3
Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV) 309,610 1.53 –0.35 6 –2
Popular Unity (HB) 231,722 1.15 +0.15 5 +3
Communists' Unity Board (MUC) 229,695 1.14 New 0 ±0
Basque Country Left (EE) 107,053 0.53 +0.05 2 +1
Andalusian Party (PA) 94,008 0.47 +0.07 0 ±0
Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) 84,628 0.42 –0.24 0 –1
Workers' Socialist Party (PST) 77,914 0.39 –0.10 0 ±0
Regionalist Aragonese Party (PAR) 73,004 0.36 New 1 +1
Canarian Independent Groups (AIC) 65,664 0.33 New 1 +1
Valencian Union (UV) 64,403 0.32 New 1 +1
Communists' Party of Catalonia (PCC) 57,107 0.28 +0.06 0 ±0
Galician Socialist Party–Galician Left (PSG–EG)[lower-alpha 5] 45,574 0.23 +0.12 0 ±0
Spanish Falange of the JONS (FE–JONS) 43,449 0.22 +0.21 0 ±0
Communist Unification of Spain (UCE) 42,451 0.21 +0.10 0 ±0
Valencian People's Union (UPV) 40,264 0.20 +0.11 0 ±0
Canarian Assembly–Canarian Nationalist Left (AC–INC) 36,892 0.18 +0.09 0 ±0
The Greens (LV) 31,909 0.16 New 0 ±0
Green Alternative List (LAV) 29,567 0.15 New 0 ±0
Spanish Vertex Ecological Development Revindication (VERDE) 28,318 0.14 New 0 ±0
Republican People's Unity (UPR) 27,473 0.14 +0.03 0 ±0
Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG)[lower-alpha 6] 27,049 0.13 –0.05 0 ±0
Internationalist Socialist Workers' Party (POSI) 21,853 0.11 New 0 ±0
Blank ballots 121,186 0.60 +0.13
Total 20,202,919 100.00 350 ±0
Valid votes 20,202,919 98.43 +0.38
Invalid votes 321,939 1.57 –0.38
Votes cast / turnout 20,524,858 70.49 –9.48
Abstentions 8,592,755 29.51 +9.48
Registered voters 29,117,613
Source: Ministry of the Interior
  1. 1 2 People's Coalition results are compared to AP–PDP totals in the 1982 election.
  2. 1 2 PRD–CiU–CG results are compared to Convergence and Union totals in the 1982 election.
  3. 1 2 United Left results are compared to the combined totals of the PCE and NE in the 1982 election.
  4. 1 2 Aggregated data for Democratic Reformist Party, Convergence and Union and Galician Coalition.
  5. PSG–EG results are compared to Galician Left totals in the 1982 election.
  6. Galician Nationalist Bloc results are compared to B–PSG totals in the 1982 election.
Vote share
Blank ballots
Parliamentary seats


Summary of the 22 June 1986 Senate of Spain election results
Party Seats
Won +/− Not up Total seats
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) 124 –10 24 148
People's Coalition (APPDPPL)[lower-alpha 1] 63 +9 14 77
Democratic and Social Centre (CDS) 3 +3 3
Convergence and Union (CiU) 8 +3 3 11
United Left (IU) 0 ±0 1 1
Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV) 7 ±0 2 9
Popular Unity (HB) 1 +1 1
Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) 0 –2 0
Canarian Independent Groups (AIC) 1 +1 1
Majorera Assembly (AM) 1 ±0 1
Majorcan Union (UM) 0 ±0 1 1
Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) 0 –4 0
Independent Electors' Group (ADEI) 0 –1 0
Independents 0 ±0 1 1
Total 208 ±0 46 254
  1. People's Coalition results are compared to AP–PDP totals in the 1982 election.
Parliamentary seats


The 1986 election results showed little changes to the balance of power with respect to 1982. Overall, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) remained the dominant party in Spanish politics by securing a second consecutive overall majority in the Congress of Deputies. Prime Minister Felipe González was regarded to have come out reinforced from the election. With his popularity already soaring after winning the NATO referendum on March, politically turned into a plebiscite on his premiership, the election results further strengthened his political position by securing him a new mandate to continue the reforms already in place since in 1982. Nonetheless, the election unveiled the first signs of weariness of the PSOE government, as it suffered major losses in support in the major urban centers, the same that had set out the seed for González's landslide victory in 1982. In the Madrid Community the PSOE suffered the most, scoring a bare 40% from the 52% it had secured four years previously. Despite this, discontent towards the government did not translate into major inroads for other parties. Voters' apathy and the absence of strong alternatives to the Socialists translating into a substantial increase of the abstention rate, which rose to 29.5% from the 20.0% of 1982.

The centre-right People's Coalition failed to secure substantial gains from the 1982 result of the AP–PDP alliance, experiencing small gains in Castile and León, Extremadura and Melilla but falling elsewhere. Adolfo Suárez's Democratic and Social Centre (CDS) virtually took over the place of the defunct UCD with nearly 2 million votes and 19 seats. On the other hand, results for the Democratic Reformist Party (PRD) of Miquel Roca were an unmitigated disaster and a blow to Roca's national aspirations, disbanding shortly thereafter. Its Catalan counterpart Convergence and Union (CiU), however, made significant gains in the Socialist stronghold of Catalonia, dramatically closing the gap with the PSC to just 9 points from a 23-point lead in 1982. The newly formed United Left coalition was able to slightly improve over the PCE's result in 1982, despite the split of former party leader Santiago Carrillo's MUC, which was unable to gain parliamentary representation.

In the election aftermath, the People's Coalition found itself into a state of deep crisis after results showed it was unable to garner the support of the centre voters. The People's Democratic Party immediately broke away from the Coalition after the election; its 21 MPs forming their own parliamentary caucus in the Congress of Deputies, thus reducing the Coalition's parliamentary strength to 84. Manuel Fraga would resign as AP leader after the party's disastrous results in the November 1986 Basque regional election, deepening a party crisis that would last until its refoundation into the People's Party in 1989.[65]



First round: 23 July 1986
Absolute majority (176/350) required
Candidate: Felipe González
Choice Vote
Parties Votes
YesYes PSOE (184)
184 / 350
No APPL (73), PDP (21), CDS (19), CiU (18), IU (7), EE (2), CG (1),
PAR (1), AIC (1), UV (1)
144 / 350
Abstentions PNV (6)
6 / 350
Absences: AP (11)
Not taking oath: HB (5)
Source: Historia Electoral

Thanks to his party's 184-strong absolute majority, Felipe González was able to easily win the confidence of the Congress of Deputies in the first round of voting held on 23 July 1986, being re-elected for a second consecutive term in office. However, his candidacy only obtained the support of his own party, the PSOE; all other opposition parties (except for the PNV, which abstained) voted against. With 10 different parties voting against González' election, this became the occasion in which the largest number of parties cast a "No" vote in any investiture voting.



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  3. "Royal Decree 794/1986, of 22 April, of dissolution of the Congress of Deputies and Senate and of the calling of elections" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish) (97): 14439. 23 April 1986.
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  8. "In 1983 the deficit will be at 6% of GDP" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-01-28.
  9. "The current account deficit exceeded US$4 billion in the last year" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-02-03.
  10. "The government devalues the peseta by 8%" (in Spanish). El País. 1982-12-05.
  11. "The Government expropriates the banks and all companies in the Rumasa Holding" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-02-24.
  12. "Government approves 40-hour work week" (in Spanish). El País. 1982-12-23.
  13. "The 'lunch break' will be paid by the employer, according to the dictum from the Committee on Social Policy" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-04-14.
  14. "Spain EPA (Year 1985)" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  15. 1 2 3 "The 'felipist' revolution" (in Spanish). El País. 2012-11-30.
  16. 1 2 Pedro Calvo Hernando. "1983: Rumasa and the Abortion Law" (in Spanish). El Mundo. Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  17. "40,000 future pensioners will have to work until after age 65 to qualify for retirement" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-05-10.
  18. "Felipe González assures that industrial restructuring "is fundamental to equalize ourselves" with Europe" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-12-03.
  19. "UGT calls for demonstrations against the pension reform proposed by the Government" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-05-17.
  20. "Three decades of labor reforms" (in Spanish). El País. 2012-02-10.
  21. "Public health will reach 98% of the population, according to government project" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-11-01.
  22. "Law 14/1986, of 25 April, Health General".
  23. "Organic Law 9/1985, of 5 July, of reform of article 417 of the Penal Code".
  24. 1 2 "The democratic Governments (1979–2000)" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  25. "Organic Law 8/1985, of 3 July, regulating the Right to Education".
  26. "Organic Law 11/1983, of 25 August, of University Reform".
  27. "Felipe González reaffirms to Congress that the PSOE has not received funding from the Federal Republic since it was legalized" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-11-15.
  28. "Congress absolves Felipe González in the 'Flick affair'" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-03-01.
  29. "The Basque group supports the measures against ETA explained by González in the Congress, "although we don't like them"" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-11-04.
  30. "The Government approves the renewal of all the members of the Chief of Joint Chiefs of Staff" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-01-12.
  31. "The Government reinforces the supremacy of civilian authority over the military" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-10-27.
  32. "Salaries for members of the Armed Forces will be increased by 15% in 1984" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-12-29.
  33. "The three armies are integrated for the first time within the organizational and functional structure of Defence" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-01-31.
  34. "Spain's integration within the European Union" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  35. "Spain will join the EEC on 1 January 1986" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-03-13.
  36. "At 20.53 yesterday Spain signed the Treaty and Accession to the European Economic Community" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-06-13.
  37. Florentino Portero. "EEC, NATO and Spain" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  38. Juliá 1999, p. 266-267.
  39. Ruiz 2002, p. 81-82.
  40. Ruiz 2002, p. 80; 86.
  41. "UCD's disintegration process is accelerated with requests for unregistering in many regions" (in Spanish). El País. 1982-12-16.
  42. "The crisis of UCD culminates with the decision to dissolve it as a political party" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-02-19.
  43. "Fraga calls to join in the 'natural majority' to all 'non-Socialists and non-separatist'" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-11-06.
  44. "The Reformist Party intends to capture the five million votes that it considers of 'centre'" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-10-14.
  45. "Felipe González does not mind about 'Operation Roca'" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-06-19.
  46. "All opposition parties plan an increase in harassment to the management of the Government of Felipe González" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-09-07.
  47. "The economic 'rebirth' Adolfo Suárez' party intensifies the battle for the centre" (in Spanish). El País. 1983-12-08.
  48. "Three bidders for a single centre space" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-05-06.
  49. "Growing differences between the People's Coalition and Reformist Party remove the possibility of a pact" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-01-17.
  50. "Decrease the chances of and agreement between the CDS and Roca's party" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-04-20.
  51. "Iglesias won the PCE Congressm but did not prevent the party's division" (in Spanish). ABC Sevilla. 1983-12-20.
  52. "The Congress of the pro-Soviet communists unanimously elected Ignacio Gallego as Secretary-General" (in Spanish). El País. 1984-01-16.
  53. "Santiago Carrillo and 18 of his supporters, expelled from the PCE's governing bodies" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-04-20.
  54. "Carrillo begins building his new party" (in Spanish). El País. 1985-10-18.
  55. "The government, in favor of holding the election in autumn, despite pressure from a PSOE's sector" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-06.
  56. "Guerra maintains the ambiguity about the election date" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-13.
  57. "Felipe González wants to respect the "symbolic date" of elections in October" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-11.
  58. "Felipe González reiterates his commitment to end the legislature" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-16.
  59. "The conservative opposition, convinced that the government intends to bring forward to June the legislative election" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-15.
  60. "The opposition says that the PSOE has begun hiring billboards for June" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-19.
  61. "The economic team convinced Gonzalez to anticipate the election" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-22.
  62. "PSOE poster – 1986 general election". Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  63. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Slogans against slogans" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-06-09.
  64. "CDS poster – 1986 general election". Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  65. 1 2 Marín 2001, p. 391-392.
  66. "González warns that if the PSOE does not obtain an absolute majority there will be an alliance of "non-Socialists"" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-05-31.
  67. "Gonzalez makes a weekends' campaign without contact with his bases" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-06-14.
  68. "Felipe González will not enter into a 'melee' with any political adversary" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-06-11.
  69. "The PSOE offers a "medium-term economic planning"" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-05-15.
  70. "Felipe González: "There is a lot of pressure for us to not win a majority"" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-06-15.
  71. "The People's Coalition campaign will not be centered around Fraga" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-05-17.
  72. "Fraga invites non-Socialist forces to a post-election agreement" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-05-21.
  73. "Fraga wants to privatize the second channel of TVE" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-05-20.
  74. Marín 2001, p. 393.
  75. "The main members of the Platform of the United Left conclude the electoral agreement today" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-04-27.
  76. Marín 2001, p. 400.
  77. "The communists, within United Left" (in Spanish). El País. 1986-06-09.
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