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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Spanish local government
December 2017: 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
A Coruna
Pop. 244,000
Xulio Ferreiro (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1974. Academic. Lawyer.
Secured mayoralty after finishing in second place in the 2015 election behind the Popular Party candidate by less than 0.1% and subsequently securing support from other parties.
Party. Atlantic Tide
Alcala de Henares
Popl: 196,000
Javier Rodriguez Palacios (Mr) Elected 2015 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
Gabriel Echavarri (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1970
Deputy in the Cortes Generales from 2011 – 2015 . Became General Secretary of PSOE in Alicante Region in 2014. Joined the party in 2000. Former Associate Professor at the University of Alicante. Refused to resign in November 2017 after two complaints of alleged irregularities were submitted to the courts.
Party: PSOE
Pop. 195,000
Ramon Fernandez-Pacheco Montereal (Mr) Became mayor in November 2015 after resignation of predecessor. Born 1983.
Party. PP
Popl: 216,000;
Maria Dolores Sabater Puig (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1960,
Academic. Formerly Professor of Social Services at the Institut Julia Minguell.Until 2015 she was a Vice President of the Omniam Culturem Barcelonas Nord
Party: Guanyem Badalona en Comu
Popl: 1,609,000
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. 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 ths crisis period but also continued to promote Barcelona and to normalise relations. Mayor Colau has often spoken of her wish to “ feminize politics”.
Party; Barcelona en Comu
Popl: 345,000
Juan Maria Aburto (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1961;
Career Politician
Economics degree
Party: EAJ-PNV (Basque nationalist party)
Popl: 215,000
Ana Belen Castejon Hernandez (Ms) Elected 2015 following resignation of her long-serving predecessor Maria Pilar Barreiro following corruption allegations 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.
Party: PSOE
Castellon de la Plana
Popl: 171,000
Amparo Marco Gual (Ms) Elected 2015 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.
Member of the
Became mayor after negotiation arrangement with Compromis.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 327,000
Maria Isabel Ambrosio Palas (Ms) Elected 2015 Born 1970.
Politician. Former employee of PSOE in Cordoba.
Member of regional assembly 2004 – 2008 when she headed the Disability Commission. In 2008 – 2015 she was delegate of the Government of the Junta de Andulucia in Cordoba. First Socialist mayor of Cordoba since the second republic.
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: 228,000
Carlos Gonzalez Serna (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1965
Career Politician. Deputy in the Cortes Generales 2004 – 2011.
Member of Regional Assembly. Member of City Council 1995 – 2004.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 194,000
Manuel Robles Delgado (Mr) Elected 2002 and re-elected continuously since. Born 1953. Typographer and subsequently politician. President of PSOE- M since 2015. Party: PSOE
Pop 99,000
Marta Madrenas (Ms) Appointed 2016 following resignation of Carlos Puigdemont and subsequent resignation of the initial acting mayor Born 1967. Law Degree. Former President of the Association of Quantity Surveyors, Technical Architects and Building Engineers. During the crisis of late 2017 Madrenas has become prominent as a spokesperson for the ousted regional leadership following their arrest or departure from Spain. She told the Financial Times in November 2017 that “ What surprises me is that Europe ( EU) does not give a damn.”
In parallel, Mayor Madrenas was very active in late 2017 in her attendance at other events in the city maintaining normality.
Party. Democratic Convergence of Catalonia
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: 235,000
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. Former Deputy in the Cortes Generales.
Party: PSOE
L’Hospitalet de Lobregat
Popl: 256,000
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. 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 has a dominant position though not a majority
Party: PSC (Catalan Socialist Party)
Pop. 187,000
Santiago Llorente (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1969. Academic. In the 2015 election four parties secured six council members each so the mayor leads through negotiations and agreements.
Party. PSOE
Pop. 138,000
Angel Ros Domingo (Mr) Elected 2004 by Council members after resignation of predecessor. Elected by population in 2007, and re-elected 2011 and 2015. Born 1952. Computer Engineer. Before becoming a member of the Council Ros was Head of IT at it. Council member 2003-4.
Party. PSC of which he has been President since 2014.
Popl: 3,166,000
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 MadridParty. PSC of which he has been President since 2014.
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
Pop. 125,000
David Bote (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1982. Scientist and Schoolteacher. Former local secretary of the Socialists. One of a minority of Catalan mayors who publicly rejected the referendum in advance in autumn 2017.
Party. PSC
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: 441,000
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: 221,000
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

Antoni Noguera Ortega (Mr) Elected 2017 Born 1979
Career Politician. Former Secretary General of JEN-PSM the youth division of the Socialist Party of Mallorca.
Council member 2011 – 2015. Re-elected 2015. In municipal group PSIB-PSOE. Elected mayor in June 2017 in agreement with Som Palma.
Party: PSOE
Popl: 199,000
Joseba Asiron Elected 2015 Born 1962
Professor of History of Art
Became mayor following pact with other parties
Party. Euskal Herria Bildu.
Popl: 208,000
Maties Serracant Camps (Mr) Elected 2017 Born 1976. Geographer and Politician.
Member of City Council since 2013.
Became mayor in June 2017 replacing Juli Fernandez  i Olivares who had served since 2015 and is a member of Esquerra Republicana de Catalonia. Serracant is a member of the Call for Sabadell grouping.
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: 173,000
Gema Igual Ortiz (Ms) Elected 2016 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 Born 1966
Degrees in Law and Business Management
Former Senator in national parliament
Former Regional Government Minister 2004-6.
Party: PSOE
Pop. 131,000
Josep Felix Ballesteros (Mr) Elected 2007. Re-elected 2011 and 2015. Born 1959. Educational Psychologist and Politician. During the 2017 crisis in Catalonia the mayor lost his outright majority of Council members signed up to support his administration and several individuals resigned from the mayor’s advisory body.
Party. PSC
Popl: 215,000
Alfredo Vega Lopez (Mr) Took office in November 2017 having been Acting Mayor for two weeks following the resignation of Jordi Ballart Born 1957. Academic. Member of City Council 2007 – 2017. Deputy Mayor 2015 – 2017.
Took over in November 2017 following resignation of predecessor in the midst of the Catalonia political crisis. The Council parties were unable to reach any agreements amidst acrimony so the veteran socialist became mayor without agreements in place to sustain him. Jordi Ballart, his predecessor, resigned from the PSC and the mayoralty over disagreements with the party actions in the constitutional crisis.
Party: PSC

Popl: 790,000

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 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
Party: PSOE
Popl: 293,000
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. 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’.
Party: PSOE
Vitoria Gasteiz
Popl: 245,000
Gorka Urturan Agirre (Mr) Elected 2015 Born 1972
Former civil servant. Politician
Member of City Council 2011-2015
Party: EAJ-PNV
Popl: 661,000
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