The general elections of 23J have brought several surprises that analysts have carefully described: a bitter victory for the PP, a sweet defeat for the PSOE, the irrelevance of some parties, an uncertain governance scenario due to equality in seats between the two blocks and due to the dependence on Junts , etc. But there is some unknown peculiarity that we are going to try to reveal in this article. (Read the warnings below). The Congress that will be constituted after the elections on July 23 will have more deputies than any other legislature, it will be older, there will be few nurseries, parliamentary inexperience will be widespread, there will be many university degrees and a wide variety of professions, but with a predominance of teachers , legal professionals and people without a known profession, a group that does not stop growing.
Spain is one of the countries where there are more women in positions of political representation and the Congress is a mirror of this situation (also the autonomies and municipalities). If we do not take into account the very short XIII legislature that began in 2019 (195 days), the one that will begin shortly after 23J will have the most women in the history of democracy: 44%. Compare this data with the 8% that existed in Congress in the first four legislatures (until 1990). The effort that the parties have historically made is varied and in the legislature that is about to begin there are also differences: while PSOE and Sumar have half the women in their ranks (48% each), the PP is a bit behind (43%) and Vox is the red lantern with only a quarter of women in its delegation in Congress (27%). All the other parties (CC, UPN, BNG, PNV, Bildu, Junts and ERC) have 46% women deputies.
This legislature will also be, on average, the oldest in democracy. The average age of the people elected by the citizens is 51 years (there are 24 cases about which we have no information). In the previous legislature, the average was 48. Compare with the average of the first legislatures: between 40 and 42 years old from 1977 to 1990. As has happened in all legislatures, women are younger on average (50.6) than men (51.1), although the distance is the smallest for democracy. Sumar (44) has the lowest average age, followed by Vox (50), PSOE (51) and PP (52). The group of other formations has the highest average age with 56 years. In the event that they take possession of their seat, the youngest parliamentarian will be Ada Santana Aguilera (PSOE) who was born in 1998, while the oldest will be Alberto Asarta, (born in 1951 in Zaragoza, Vox deputy for Castellón and General de retired division of the army) who shares life seniority with Cristina Narbona (deputy for Madrid, President of the PSOE and with a long career in Spanish politics).
The level of cunerismo has remained more or less stable since 2008: between a quarter and almost a third of the parliamentarians were born outside the province in which they obtain the seat. These are the lowest proportions of the democratic period. After the elections on July 23, the extension of cunerismo is just over a quarter of representatives (28%). This means that the vast majority of parliamentarians (72%) represent the citizens of the province in which they were born and that the parties activate this filter for their selection. This proportion increases if we consider the autonomous communities: eight out of ten elected to 23J were born in the community in which they obtained the seat (81%). The analysis of the four parties with the most representation allows us to say that the “cuneros” are more frequent in Sumar (68%) and Vox (41%) and much less in the PP (23%) and PSOE (18%). Unfortunately, the data does not allow us to distinguish the cunero/a stricto sensu from the representative with roots in a province or community, even if they were not born there.
This legislature that begins on August 17 will also have a large proportion of representatives with university credentials: 90%, a figure that has not decreased since 1986. We do not know the disciplines studied by their lordships, but they do resemble those studied by their predecessors of 2019 (according to data from the third survey of parliamentarians), law, education (teaching), economics, and politics and sociology can bring together almost two thirds of newly elected parliamentarians (60%), highlighting law with almost a third. This projection is based on the fact that half of the people elected on 23-J were also in the previous legislature, an almost constant pattern of renewal in Spanish democracy. The party that would have representatives with the most university credentials is the PP (94%), followed by Vox (88%), PSOE and Sumar (87%). In the rest of the parties as a whole, 89% have gone through the university. If you associate quality of representation and training, you would do well to take an interest in how we teach our future politicians in universities.
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Naturally, the formation of their lordships is reflected in the professional structure of the chamber. Of the representatives elected on 23-J, almost one in five (18%) comes from the world of law and they are, fundamentally, lawyers. The second largest professional group is that of teachers (16%). Until 2008, these two professional groups provided about half of the 350 representatives in Congress. In this legislature they will be reduced to a third (34%). Since the economic crisis, the parties incorporate a greater plurality of professions, which suggests a greater social porosity that coincides, in some cases, with a greater openness in the candidate selection mechanisms. For a fact: since 2008 the proportion of “other professions” increases to reach 34% of the previous legislature and 33% of the one that will come out of the 23J elections. Until 2011 they did not account for more than two tenths (22%). Among these “other professions” political scientists, sociologists and various advisers stand out.
The proportion of employees or workers continues in free fall since 1977 (15%) and since 23-J it is 2% of the people elected. This is not the case with managers and businessmen (including the very few self-employed who register), who, election after election, remain at around a tenth of the representatives. They will be 9% after the 23-J elections. This is also the same presence that officials achieve. This group, with teachers and legal professionals, usually configures the dominant groups among the representatives. Following Max Weber, the motive is elective affinity and dispensability. A lawyer, a teacher usually make use of the word to persuade, dialogue, convince, argue with her colleagues, courts, students. They are professionally trained for it. And that is one of the most common qualities in politics. It should not be surprising, then, that there are so many teachers and professionals of the laws in politics. In addition, just like people who are in public service, a teacher (generally also civil servants) and a lawyer can easily return to their profession once their public service in the chamber is over, so they are easily dispensable in their posts.
What is curious is the growing increase in representatives whose profession is not known (or we have not been able to find it after exhaustive searches that have sometimes included contacts through social networks to complete the available information). After the electoral results of 23-J, one in seven representatives (14%, the same as in the last legislature) has no known profession.
Let’s do a little exercise to better understand the average profile of the representative of each party. If we randomly select a representative of the PP elected on 23-J, it would probably be male (57%), new to Congress (60%), around 52 years of age, born in the province for which they have been elected ( 77%), with a university degree (94%) and legal professional (20%), with no known profession (14%) or businessman or manager (13%).
If we randomly choose a PSOE representative, they can be male (52%) or female (48%), with little experience in representation politics (47%), probably native (82%), around 51 years old, with university studies (87%) and probably a teacher (21%), with no known profession (19%) or legal professional (18%).
If we were to randomly pick a Vox representative, they would likely be male (76%), in their 50s, with parliamentary experience (76%), born in the province for which they are elected (59%), with university credentials (88% ) and probably a legal professional (30%) or businessman and manager (19%).
If the randomly chosen representative is from Sumar, then it can be a man (52%) or a woman (48%), with limited parliamentary experience (68%), around 44 years old, born in a province other than the one has chosen it (68%), with university studies (87%) and probably a legal professional (17%), teacher (14%) or civil servant (10%).
In conclusion, the legislature that is about to begin is the one that will bring together the most women, the oldest, the one that shows that the age difference between men and women is shorter (which suggests that women parliamentarians also have political experience), the which has a low extension of the cunero phenomenon, with a high proportion of representatives with university credentials, with a high professional plurality, including a high percentage of representatives with no known profession. It is a legislature that will have half of its members without parliamentary experience which, in combination with the polarizing bloc politics, is likely to result in a low degree of parliamentary agreement.
Warning: The data in this work come from Bapoldata®, a database that contains sociodemographic information on the 10,398 people who have held a seat in one of the 19 Spanish houses of representation from 1977 to 2023. Unlike other works, the Point of observation is not the time of the takeover. Following the advice suggested in this study, as there are leave and leave during the session, the person who has spent the longest time in the chamber is considered in the computation of the data, whether substitute or substituted. For this work, the information of the people elected on 23-J is taken assuming that they will take possession of their seat with the exception made of the recent cases already known.
This article is also signed by Xavier Coller, UNED researcher, as well as Andrés Benítez. Beatriz Carrasco and Pablo Domínguez do research at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville and Carles Pàmies at Sciences Po in Paris.
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