World Mayor 2023

Spanish mayors
By Brian Baker and Daniel Gonzáles Herrera, City Mayors Research

ON THIS PAGE: Spanish local government ||| Mayors of largest Spanish cities ||| Spain's political parties |||

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Spanish mayorsSpanish local government
September 2020: Spanish local government is considered the tier closest to citizens. It is most directly concerned with the daily life of people. Spain is divided into Municipalities (Municipios), with the exception of the Royal Bardenas, in Navarre, a territory declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

The governance of the municipalities belongs to the City Council. It is a collegiate organ that leads the municipal administration.  The City Council is made up of Councillors, elected by popular vote. The number of councillors may vary according to the number of residents, from five to 25. In the municipal elections, all European Union citizens, regardless of nationality, may vote and stand for office, though of course they must reside in the Municipality (Municipio) concerned. The City Council in plenary meeting takes the decisions regarding the most important questions that affect the citizenry. It passes the general plans of urban development, and many other regulations, in areas such as taxes, urban policy, etc. 

The president of the City Council is the Mayor, which is elected by and from the councillors. Mayors organize, suspend and lead the sessions and debates of the plenary and of other municipal organs. They are also the highest representative authority of the municipality and responsible for its government and administration. Nevertheless, if the City Council in plenary is of the view that they are not addressing their functions properly, they can be removed through a "constructive vote of censure": this means that with the vote the meeting must also propose a new candidate, to avoid a power vacuum.

The functions that belong to the City Council are those that the state and the Autonomous Community give to it, generally those that most directly affect the citizen.

Finally, in some smaller rural municipalities in Northern Spain there is a particular form of direct democracy: the Open Council (Consejo abierto). This is a way of government similar to the one that existed in ancient Greece, where all the free citizens went together to the agora to take the most important decisions. In these Spanish towns all the inhabitants, called by bell tolls, may gather in an assembly to make fundamental decisions that affect them jointly. Because of its characteristics, this form of democracy can be viable only in communities with few members: one hundred or less.

To address specific issues of large urban concentrations, the metropolitan areas are recognized as real local entities. They are made up of the municipalities within urban agglomerations with common economic and social links. Its structure is similar to a ‘Federation of Municipalities’. The metropolitan area of Barcelona is the most important example. Within such a federation, all municipalities must be equally represented to ensure a fair distribution of economic benefits and burdens.

Finally, cities with more than 250,000 residents and those, which are provincial or autonomous capitals, have their own system, though it is not very different to the general model. The main difference is that in these big cities the mayor has the highest power, and with him the Governing Board, a cabinet-type set up that assists the Mayor in executive and organisational functions. Full article on Spanish government

Mayors of the largest Spanish cities

City, size
and website
Mayor (Mr, Ms)
Profile & Politics
Alcala de Henares
Popl: 196,000
Javier Rodriguez Palacios (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1972
Council opposition leader 2007 – 2015
Former civil servant in agricultural related jobs having qualified as an agronomist in the 1990s.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 331,000
Luis Barcala (Mr) Elected 2018 by Council members following resignation of Gabriel Echavarri. Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1962
Lawyer and Politician. Member of City Council since 2011. Became mayor in 2018 with support from Citizens and maintained that coalition after 2019 election and is able to govern without making a deal with Vox. Party: People’s Party
Pop. 195,000
Ramon Fernandez-Pacheco (Mr) Succeeded predecessor 2015. Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1983
Lawyer. Member of City Council since 2011. Following 2019 election secured support from Vox and Citizens to continue as mayor
Party: PP
Popl: 216,000;
Xavier Garcia Albiol (Mr)

Elected by Council May 2020 following resignation of Mayor Pastor for beaches of lockdown rules. Next Election 2023.

Formerly mayor from 2011 – 2015. Former member of Catalan Parliament. Full-time politician for several decades. Leader of local party which was largest after 2019 election with 11 members.  Only PP  urban stronghold in Catalonia.  Party. PP
Popl: 1,609,000
Ada Colau Ballano (Ms) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Barcelona en Comu became the largest
Party on the City Council with 11 seats following the 2015 election. During the 2017 crisis in Catalonia Ms Colau ,as a left-wing leader who has not so far favoured independence, has become a critical figure in the search for dialogue and a solution. She inevitably also became a high-profile figure of controversy during this crisis period but also continued to promote Barcelona and to normalise relations. Mayor Colau has often spoken of her wish to “ feminize politics”. In the 2019 elections her party secured fewer votes than the ERC but won the same number of seats. Following this she was able to win a second four year term with the support of PSC despite independence campaigners protests. Mayor Colau was shortlisted for the 2018 World Mayor Prize
Party: Barcelona en Comu
Popl: 345,000
Juan Maria Aburto (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1961
Career Politician
Economics degree. Secured second term with strengthened position in 2019 election with his party obtaining 14 of the 29 members of City Council.
Party: EAJ-PNV (Basque nationalist party)
Popl: 215,000
Ana Belen Castejon Hernandez (Ms) Elected 2017 following pact to take two years of the 2015-2019 term each with Jose Lopez of Moviemento Ciudadano. Re-elected 2019 with similar arrangement with PP and Ciudadanos. Next Election 2023 Born 1979.
Politician. Member of the City Council since 2007. Formerly worked for PSOE at the Regional Government in Murcia. Former Secretary General of PSOE Youth wing in the region. Has led PSOE to share of power in both 2015-2019 and 2019 – 2023 terms. In 2019 post-election agreement is with PP and Ciudadanos and is explicitly to keep Jose Lopez away from power.
Party: PSOE
Castellon de la Plana
Popl: 171,000
Amparo Marco Gual (Ms) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1968
Economist. University Professor for Finance and Accounting at Jaume University.
Member of Regional Parliament 2003 – 2007. Re-elected for 2007 – 2011 when she was Socialist Spokesperson for Industry, Science and Innovation.
Council member 2011 – 2015 when she was spokesperson for the Socialist Group.
After 2015 became mayor with backing from Compromis. In the 2019 election Gual led her party to 35% of the votes and 10 council seats, an improved position.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 327,000
Jose Marion Bellido (Mr) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1977
Professor of Law. Member of Council since 2004. Elected mayor in 2019 when his party achieved most votes and secured support of the Citizens group and the abstentions of the Vox group. He ousted the first Socialist mayor of Cordoba in the modern era
Party: PP
Donostia/San Sebastian
Popl: 186,000
Eneko Goia Alkatea (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1971
Politician. Former Marketing Professional
City Council member 2011-2015
Member of Regional Assembly 2005 – 2007. In the 2019 election EAJ-PNV secured a slightly improved position vis a vis their coalition partners PSOE.
Party: EAJ-PNV
Popl: 228,000
Carlos Gonzalez Serna (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1965
Career Politician. Deputy in the Cortes Generales 2004 – 2011.
Member of Regional Assembly. Member of City Council 1995 – 2004. In the 2019 election the votes delivered 12 Socialist and 2 Compromis members allowing their coalition to continue with an absolute majority.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 194,000
Javier Ayala (Mr) Replaced previous mayor in 2018. Elected 2019. Next Election 2023. Born 1972
Public management professional and politician. Former Executive Director of European Council. Member of Council since 2002. Deputy Mayor 2015 – 2018.  In 2019 election his party secured 55% of the votes and an outright majority on City Council.
Party: PSOE
Pop. 181,000
Sara Hernandez Barroso (Ms) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1976
Lawyer. Politician. Worked for several years as a specialist in labour law. Member of City Council since 2003. Since 2015 Secretary-General of PSOE in the Madrid region. In the 2019 election she secured a strengthened position with the largest vote share and additional council colleagues.
Party: PSOE-M
Pop 99,000
Marta Madrenas (Ms) Became mayor in 2016. Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1967
Lawyer. Member of City Council since 2011.  Prominent during the constitutional crisis in Catalonia in 2017 and 2018. Deputy in the Parliament of Catalonia.    Secured mayoralty following 2019 elections despite her party having only 10 of 27 seats on city council. She is governing as a minority administration with no formal pacts
Party: Democratic Convergence of Catalonia
Popl: 274,000
Ana Gonzalez (Ms) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1963
Worked extensively in the education sector. Minister of Education, Culture and Sport in the Asturias 2012 – 2015. Member of City Council 2010 – 2012. Elected in 2019 when her party secured 11 Council seats to end 8 years of Centre-Right control and subsequently she made an arrangement with Podemos and Citizens following conversations with all parties except Vox.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 235,000
Luis Salvador (Mr Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1963
Politician. Member of City Council representing Citizens 2015 – 2016.Senator in Cortes Generales 2004 – 2011.Formerly member of PSOE which he represented until 2013. Current Deputy in Cortes Generales for Citizens. Controversially became mayor after 2019 election following agreement with PP and Vox but with Vox threatening legal action and ending arrangement uncertainty continues in July 2019.
Party: Citizens
Jerez de la Frontera
Popl: 213,000
Dona Maria del Carmen Sanchez Diaz (Ms) known as Mamen Sanchez Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1968
Member of the Congress of Deputies 2000- 2016.
Became mayor following agreement with smaller parties
PP has more seats than PSOE. In the 2019 election her party won more seats and she was subsequently able to secure a second term with small party backing.
Party: PSOE
La Coruña
Popl: 244,000
Ines Rey Garcia (Ms) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1982. Lawyer. Secured mayoralty after the 2019 election with support from BNG and Atlantic Tide. Her party and PP tied with 9 Councillors each
Party: PSOE/PSdeG
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Popl: 280,000
Augusto Hidalgo Marario (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1972;
Member of City Council since 2007
Career Politician. Former Deputy in the Cortes Generales. Secured second term in 2019 with support from Podemos and Nueva Canarios following the election in which his party won 11 seats.
Party: PSOE
L’Hospitalet de Lobregat
Popl: 256,000
Núria Marín Mayor since 2008; re-elected in 2011, 2015 and 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1963
Began working in city government 1985; deputy-mayor 1999. Joined Catalan Socialist Party 1981.  Vice President of the Federation of Municipalities of Catalonia (2017). At the 2015 election PSC was the only party to win more
than 4 seats and had a dominant position though not a majority. At the 2019 election the PSC secured a majority for the first time since 2007.
Party: PSC (Catalan Socialist Party)
Pop. 187,000
Santiago Llorente (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1969
Academic. Governed in 2015 with small party support. After 2019 election secured backing from Ciudadanos and Mas Madrid Legaamos
Party: PSOE
Pop. 138,000
Miquel Pueyo (Mr) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1957
Former university professor. Writer and Politician. Former member of Parliament of Catalonia.    Following the 2019 election became mayor with backing from Together for Catalonia and Comu de Lleida and thus ended 40 years of PSOE rule.
Party: Esquerra Republicana
Popl: 3,166,000
Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida (Mr) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1975
Lawyer. Held several positions for the state and its enterprises between 2000 and 2019. Member of City Council 2015 – 2019. Became mayor following 2019 election after his party, with the largest number of votes made agreements with Cs and with Vox.
Party PP
Popl: 569,000
Francisco de la Torre Prados (Mr) Elected mayor 2003, Re-elected 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1942
Degrees in sociology and agricultural engineering from Salamanca, Madrid and Rennes universities; engaged in regional politics and administration in 1970s-80s; deputy-mayor of Malaga 1994, becomes mid-term mayor 2000. Remained as mayor even though PP lost majority on Council in 2015. In the 2019 election PP was the largest party and the mayor secured a further term.
Party: PP
Pop. 125,000
David Bote (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1982
Scientist and teacher. Following 2019 election secured second term following an agreement with Podemos
Party: PSC
Popl: 206,000
Noellia Posse Gomez (Ms) Became mayor in 2018. Elected 2019 Next Election 2023 Born 1978
Former public official. Member of City Council 2003 – 2011 and 2015 – 2018. Inherited a minority administration in 2018 when she became the first female mayor of Mostoles.  After 2019 election when her party increased its votes and seats she secured a coalition with Podemos and Mas Madrid Ganar Mostoles to secure an overall majority for the 2019-2023 term. She has cited growth, equality, accessibility and more opportunities as the pillars of her administration
Party PSOE
Popl: 441,000
Jose Ballesta German (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next election 2023 Born 1958
Former Regional Government Minister
Academic and medical doctor
Following 2015 election he was elected mayor even though PP lost majority. Following 2019 election negotiations were prolonged and difficult with Ballesta eventually securing a second term with a comprehensive agreement with the Citizens group.
Party: PP
Popl: 221,000
Alfredo Canteli (Mr) Elected 2019 Next Election 2023 Born 1948
Following 2015 election became mayor with support from other parties
Despite PP being the largest party on the Council
Party: FSA – PSOE

Palma de Mallorca
Popl: 401,000

Jose Hila Vargas (Mr) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1972
Politician. Member of City Council 2007-2015. Previously mayor 2015-2017.   Secured mayoralty following 2019 election with an agreement with Podemos and Mes per Palma
Popl: 199,000
Enrique Maya (Mr) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1959 in Uruguay
Architect and politician.  Also taught architecture.   Previously mayor from 2011 – 2015. Leader of opposition on Council 2015 – 2019. Following 2019 election became mayor as the candidate of the party which won most seats and with support of PP and Citizens
Party: UPN
Popl: 208,000
Marta Farres (Ms) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1981
Musician. Member of City Council 2003 – 2015. In the 2019 election her party secured most votes and she subsequently secured mayoralty through a pact with Podemos
Party: PSC
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Popl: 204,000
Patricia Hernandez Gutierrez (Ms) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1980
Senator in Cortes Generales 2004 – 2011. Deputy in the Cortes Generales 2011 – 2015. Vice President of Government of Canarias 2015 – 2016.  Following election of 2019 she became first female mayor of Santa Cruz and ended 40 years of uninterrupted control by the Coalicion Canarias and its predecessors. She secured backing from Podemos and Ciudadanos to win the job
Party: PSOE
Popl: 173,000
Gema Igual Ortiz (Ms) Became mayor 2016. Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1973
Replaced Inigo de Serna as mayor after he was appointed to the Spanish government. Member of the City Council since 2003. For the majority of her time on the Council she was responsible for Tourism and Institutional Relations. First female mayor of Santander.
Party. PP
Popl: 691,000
Juan Espadas (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1966
Degrees in Law and Business Management
Former Senator in national parliament
Former Regional Government Minister 2004-6. Secured second term after 2019 election when his party secured more seats and now govern without a formal pact with others though without an absolute majority.
Party: PSOE
Pop. 131,000
Pau Ricoma (Mr) Elected 2019 Next Election 2023 Born 1957
Politician and Trades Union Executive. With support from other parties following 2019 elections he became mayor even though the party with the most votes was PSC.
Party: ERC
Popl: 215,000
Jordi Ballart (Mr) Resigned as mayor in 2017. Elected for a different party 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1980
Former pollster and administrator. Member of City Council since 2005. Mayor 2015 – 2017. Until 2017 represented PSC. In 2019 election headed list for new group called Everything for Terrassa and won most seats. Became mayor following pact with ERC
Party: Everything for Terrassa.

Popl: 790,000

Joan Ribó Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1947
Former Teacher
Degree in Agricultural Engineering
Joined Coalicio Compromis in 2011. Was formerly member
of Corts Valencianes. Secured second term in 2019 when his party won 10 places on City Council and subsequently secured support of PSOE.
Party: Coalicio Compromis
Popl: 304,000
Oscar Puente (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1968
Lawyer. City Council 2007 – 2015. Since 2008 Puente has been Secretary-General of the Socialist Party in the region. Although PP won more seats than PSOE in 2015 Puente became mayor following agreement with smaller parties. Following 2019 election, in which his party gained the most seats, he secured second term with an agreement with the Take the Word group.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 293,000
Abel Ramón Caballero Alvarez (Mr) Became mayor 2007 after election pact with BNG (Galician nationalists). Re-elected 2011, 2015 and 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1946
Studied economics in Santiago, Cambridge and Essex universities. Spain's socialist transport minister 1985-88, member of parliament 1982-97. Head of Vigo port authority 2005. As President of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities in 2017 Caballero has been active in denouncing the Catalonia referendum and in supporting those mayors in Catalonia who did not provide facilities for it. He described ousted Catalonia Regional President Carlos Puigdemont as a ‘fascist’. In the 2019 election his party secured 67% of the votes and 20 of the 27 members of the Council.
Party: PSOE
Vitoria Gasteiz
Popl: 245,000
Gorka Urturan Agirre (Mr) Elected 2015. Re-elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1972
Former civil servant. Politician
Member of City Council 2011-2015. Secured second term in 2019 election with support of PSE.
Party: EAJ-PNV
Popl: 661,000
Jorge Azcon (Mr) Elected 2019. Next Election 2023 Born 1973
Lawyer and teacher of law. Became mayor following 2019 election in which his party secured the most seats on the city council. Member of the City Council since 2003.
Party: PP

Spain’s principal political parties and groupings
PP: Partido Popular, conservative
Foro Asturias: Centre-right regional party founded January 2011 by ex-PP minister Francisco Alvarez-Cascos
Podemos: Left-wing party founded in 2014 to fight against inequality and corruption
PSOE: Spain's Socialist Party
PSC: Catalan Socialist Party
EAJ-PNV: Basque nationalist party
CC-PNC-CCN: Coalition of Canarian nationalist parties