Spanish mayors
Research by Brian Baker and Daniel Gonzáles Herrera

ON THIS PAGE: Spanish local government ||| Mayors of largest Spanish cities |||

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The 2016 World
Mayor Honours

1 Bart Somers, Mechelen, Belgium

2 Wolfgang G Müller, Lahr, Germany

3 Georgios Kaminis, Athens, Greece

4 Guisi Nicolini, Lampedusa, Italy

5 Richard Arnold, Schwäbisch Gmünd,

6 Mirjam van 't Veld, Amstelveen Netherlands

7 Spiros Galinos, Lesbos, Greece

8 Pavel Adamowicz, Gdansk, Poland

9 Damien Carême, Grande-Synthe, France

10 Henriette Reker, Cologne, Germany


Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau Ballano

Madrid Mayor
Manuela Carmena Castrillo

Sevilla Mayor Juan Espadas

Valencia Mayor Joan Ribó

Spanish local government
24 September 2016: 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: 201,000
Javier Rodriguez Palacios (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1972
Council opposition leader 2007 – 2015
Former civil servant
Party: PSOE
Popl: 332,000
Gabriel Echavarri (Mr) Elected 2015 Party: PSOE
Popl: 216,000;
Maria Dolores Sabater Puig (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1960,
Party: Guanyem Badalona en Comu
Popl: 1,606,000
Ada Colau Ballano (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1974
Activist and Writer
Became mayor after Barcelona en Comu became the largest
Party on the City Council with 11 seats following the 2015 election
Popl: 345,000
Juan Maria Aburto (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1961;
Career Politician
Economics degree
Party: EAJ-PNV (Basque nationalist party)
Popl: 216,000
María Pilar Barreiro Álvarez (Ms) Mayor since 1995; Re-elected 2015 Born 1955
Lawyer and lecturer by profession; entered PP 1987, member of Murcia regional assembly 1991-5; member of Spain's parliament since 2008.
Party: PP
Castellon de la Plana
Popl: 173,000
Amparo Marco Gual (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1968
Born 1968
Economist. University Professor
Member of Regional Parliament 2003 – 2007
Council member 2011 – 2015
Became mayor after negotiation arrangement with Compromis
Popl: 327,000
Maria Isabel Ambrosio Palas (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1970
Member of regional assembly
Party: PSOE
Donostia/San Sebastian
Popl: 186,000
Eneko Goia Alkatea (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1971
Politician. Former Marketing Professional
City Council member 2011-2015
Member of Regional Assembly 2005 – 2007
Party: EAJ-PNV
Popl: 230,822 (2010)
Carlos Gonzalez Serna (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1965
Career Politician
Member of Regional Assembly
Party: PSOE
Popl: 198,100
Manuel Robles Delgado (Mr) Elected 2015 Party: PSOE
Popl: 274,000
Carmen Moriyón Entrialgo (Ms) Elected 2011; Re-elected 2015 Born 1966
Graduated medicine 1990 University of Oviedo; surgeon; received Embajadora de Gijón prize 2008 for medical/scientific activities.
Party: Foro Asturias (centre-right regional party founded January 2011 by ex-PP minister Francisco Alvarez-Cascos)
Popl: 236,000
Francisco Cuenca Rodriguez (Mr) Elected 2016 Born 1969
Teacher and Politician
Member of City Council since 2011
Became mayor after PP mayor resigned following corruption allegations
Party: PSOE
Jerez de la Frontera
Popl: 213,000
Dona Maria del Carmen Sanchez Diaz (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1968
Became mayor following agreement with smaller parties
PP has more seats than PSOE
Party: PSOE
La Coruña
Popl: 244,000
Xulio Ferreiro (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1974
Lawyer and Academic
Marea Atlantica, formed to promote change and participative
democracy, won 31% of the votes and 10 seats in 2015. Backed by Podemos.
Party: Marea Atlantica
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Popl: 280,000
Augusto Hidalgo Marario (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1972;
Member of City Council since 2007
Career Politician
Party: PSOE
L’Hospitalet de Lobregat
Popl: 252,000
Núria Marín Martínez (Ms) Mayor since 2008; reelected in 2011 and 2015 Born 1963
Began working in city government 1985; deputy-mayor 1999. Joined Catalan Socialist Party 1981. At the 2015 election PSC was the only party to win more
than 4 seats and has a dominant position though not a majority
Party: PSC (Catalan Socialist Party)
Popl: 3,142,000
Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1944
Retired lawyer and emeritus judge. Became mayor after Ahora Madrid and PSOE made an arrangement
following 2015 election. Ahora Madrid was backed by Podemos in that election and is a coalition of radical, left of centre groups
Party: Ahora Madrid
Popl: 569,000
Francisco de la Torre Prados (Mr) Elected mayor 2003, Re-elected 2007, 2011 and 2015 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
Party: PP
Popl: 206,000
David Lucas Parron (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1968
Academic. Has Doctorate in Public Affairs
Became Secretary-General of PSOE in Mostoles in 2012
Party: PSOE
Popl: 440,000
Jose Ballesta German (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1958
Former Regional Government Minister
Academic and medical doctor
Following 2015 election he was elected mayor even though PP lost majority
Party: PP
Popl: 222,000
Wenceslao Lopez Martinez (Mr) Elected 2015 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 2015 Born 1972
Academic in Economics
Council member 2011 – 2015. In municipal group PSIB-PSOE
Party: PSOE
Popl: 199,000
Joseba Asiron Elected 2015 Born 1962
Professor of History of Art
Became mayor following pact with other parties
Popl: 208,000
Juli Fernandez I Olivares Elected 2015 Born 1977
Former pharmacist and tourism manager
ERC President 2011
Became mayor after 2015 election with support from other parties
Party: Esquerra Republicana de Catalonia
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Popl: 204,000
José Manuel Bermúdez Esparza (Mr) Elected 2011; re-elected 2015 Born 1966, lawyer; member of Coalición Canarias (CC) party in 1990s. Occupied posts in Canary islands and Tenerife governments 1980s and 90s; Tenerife's head of tourism from 2003.
Party: CC-PNC-CCN (coalition of Canarian nationalist parties)
Popl: 175,000
Inigo de la Serna Hernaiz Elected 2011; re-elected 2015 Born 1971
Career Politician
Co-President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions
Remained mayor in 2015 as PP still have nearly 50% of seats on Council though
they lost majority
Party: PP
Popl: 694,000
Juan Espadas (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1966
Degrees in Law and Business Management
Former Senator in national parliament
Former Regional Government Minister 2004-6.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 215,000
Pere Navarro Morera (Mr) Elected 2012; re-elected 2015 Born 1980
Degree in Politics. Career Politician
Member of Regional Parliament
City Council member since 2005
Member Consell Nacional del PSC
Party: PSC

Popl: 815,440 (2011)

Joan Ribó Elected 2015 Born 1947
Former Teacher
Degree in Agricultural Engineering
Joined Coalicio Compromis in 2011. Was formerly member
of Corts Valencianes
Party: Coalicio Compromis
Popl: 304,000
Oscar Puente (Mr) Elected 2015 Although PP won more seats than PSOE in 2015 Puente became mayor following agreement with smaller parties
Party: PSOE
Popl: 297, 124 (2010)
Abel Ramón Caballero Alvarez (Mr) Became mayor 2007 after election pact with BNG (Galician nationalists). Re-elected 2011 and 2015. 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.
Party: PSOE
Vitoria Gasteiz
Popl: 244,000
Gorka Urturan Agirre (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1972
Former civil servant. Politician
Member of City Council 2011-2015
Party: EAJ-PNV
Popl: 665,000
Pedro Santisteve (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1958
University Professor
Zaragoza en Comun was backed by Podemos in 2015 and won 9 seats.
Became mayor following arrangement with PSOE and smaller parties.
Mayor Santisteve attracted international profile by challenging the ownership of large church run buildings and ruins
Party: Zaragoza en Comun

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