Spain is divided into 17 autonomous regions, each of which has an elected assembly and a governor appointed by the central government. Municipalities are gradually becoming consolidated; their number had declined to about 8,000 by 2003. Each municipality has a mayor ( alcalde ) and councilmen ( concejales ); the councilmen, directly elected by the people, elect the mayors. Fifty-one of the 259 members of the Senate are chosen by the regional assemblies.
The statutes governing the Basque and Catalan autonomous communities, providing for regional high courts and legislative assemblies, were approved by referendum in October 1979; the statutes for Galicia in December 1980; and those for Andalucía in October 1981. Autonomy statutes for the other 11 historic regions of continental Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands were subsequently approved and a regular electoral process begun.
Aznar's Popular Party did well in municipal elections held on 25 May 2003, including winning the mayoral race in Madrid.