The Parliament of Navarre represents the people of Navarre, who vote for it. It approves the laws which must be in force in Navarre on the areas of authority which it enjoys as a Community having its own Regional Government. Every year it also approves the General Budgets of Navarre, as well as the Accounts which the Government of Navarre presents on the execution and expense incurred by the Regional Administration on the amounts authorised by Parliament. Finally, the parliament chooses the President of the Government of Navarre and exercises the task of promoting and controlling the actions of the government.
The Parliament of Navarre represents the people of Navarre. The decisions of the Parliament are an expression of the will of the Navarrese people, who through their representatives, participate in political questions which affect them. Hence, in debates and voting, the members of Parliament reflect the feeling of their electors, holders of sovereignty, and in whose name they carry out the functions which are entrusted to them.
Every four years, by universal suffrage (that is, with the participation of all Navarrese older than eighteen years of age included in the electoral census) and by means of electoral summoning, the fifty parliamentarians which make up the Parliament of Navarre are elected.
Under the traditional system of separation and balance of powers (legislative, executive and judicial) in democratic societies, the Parliament is granted the power to pass laws which are to govern a community, hence the denomination of legislative chamber. In the scope of the Autonomous Community this function corresponds to the Parliament of Navarre which confers the rank of regional (foral) laws, the term given to the norms and resolutions approved, on texts which regulate the matters for which Navarre has authority.
Parliament may delegate legislative power to the Regional Government on specific matters and for a determined period of time. In no case does the delegation affect the laws which require expressly the absolute majority in order to be carried.
In order for a subject matter to become regulated by law it is necessary that the initiative comes from the Government of Navarre, via the presentation of a bill to the Parliament, or via an act proposition which may be presented by the Regional Parliamentarians and the Town Councils of Navarre which represent a third of the number of townships in a "Merindad" (territorial district) and fifty per cent of its population by law. Navarrese citizens may also present initiatives in the Parliament, provided that a series of requisites are fulfilled and that the proposal has the backing of at least seven thousand signatures.
From the moment a text arrives in the Parliament, there is a procedure which must be passed before it can be converted into Law. First, the Committee of the House and the Board of Spokespersons decide on the admission of a bill or act proposition to go through the necessary formalities, they decide the Parliamentary Committee which is to study it and order its publication in the Official Gazette of Parliament in order to disseminate it to all parliamentarians. From the moment it is published a minimum period of fifteen days is established (except in cases of urgent or special procedures, in which case the duration of period varies) so that the Parliamentary Groups and the Parliamentarians may present amendments and modifications to the bill; the amendments may also affect the whole text with the proposal of an alternative bill or simply to return it to the Government. The amendments are also published in the Official Gazette of the Chamber.
If an amendment is presented for the whole bill, it is debated in a Plenary Session of Parliament. On the supposition that an amendment to the whole bill is passed, the bill is considered rejected and the President of the Parliament notifies the Government of Navarre. Otherwise, the bill continues to pass through parliamentary procedures and, together with the amendments, is debated in the Committee. The latter prepares a resolution which is then debated and the Plenary Session of the House approves or rejects. The President of the Parliament submits the definitive text of the Regional Law to the President of the Government for its promulgation, on behalf of the King, and its publication in the Official Gazette of Navarre and of the State.
How law is made. Formalities to go through in Parliament:
The General Budgets of Navarre, the law in which the expenses of the Regional Administration and the income for its maintenance are determined, must be passed by the Parliament. Herein lies one of the principal interventions of Parliament in the political and administrative direction of the Community. The budgets constitute a necessary instrument for government action, and their authorisation corresponds solely to Parliament.
The Furtherance of the "Fuero" (code of laws) attributes the Government of Navarre with the initiative to prepare budgets and present these before Parliament. This bill receives preferential treatment in its procedure, for which specific regulating norms of debate are drawn up.
The Government, on the other hand, at the end of each trading period submits accounts on its economic activity and on the execution of the budgets before Parliament by presenting the General Accounts. Prior to their approval by means of a Regional Law, the Accounts are submitted to examination and censure of the Office of the Comptroller (Cámara de Comptos), technical and fiscal body dependent on the Parliament.
The President of the Government is chosen by Parliament at the investiture session, in which the candidate presents his programme, and, once elected, is then named by the King. In order to be sworn in as President, the candidate must obtain an absolute majority (half of the fifty members of parliament plus one) in the first ballot. If this is not the case, then a second vote is held twenty-four hours later in which the candidate can be elected by simple majority (more votes for than against). Should he/she fail to achieve this simple majority, then the candidate is rejected and further candidatures are accepted and considered in accordance with the process outlined above. If no candidate is elected after 30 calendar days as of the first ballot, then Parliament is dissolved and new elections are called immediately. Whatever the case, the mandate of the new Parliament only lasts up until the date on which the first would have finished.
The President of the Government of Navarre may decide to dissolve Parliament and call new elections before the end of the term of office. He/she cannot do this, however, during the first period of sessions, when there is less than one year to go before the end of the term of office, when a vote of no confidence has been passed, when a State election process has been called or within one year as of the last dissolution by this means. In this case, the mandate of the new Parliament arising from the election is limited to the natural period of the original term of office.
The action of the Government of Navarre must always have the backing of Parliament which has chosen it. Hence, in addition to passing laws, which the Government promotes to regulate matters which affect the general interest of the Navarrese people, the Parliament has some instruments of control over the executive’s activities, in order to intervene in the preparation and development of these laws.
Parliament can claim from government the information necessary for the exercise of its functions, in addition to requesting the presence of Local Government Ministers before the bodies of the House to formulate questions, interpellations or simply to receive direct information on current questions related to the activity of the departments of the Administration.
Parliament also has two mechanisms to control Government action, which at the same time allow it to intervene in the political direction of the Community; namely by supporting a candidate to the Presidency of the Government and to a programme, (as is the case of the censure motion); or by a referendum to the programme of action in the case of a question of confidence, which means the substitution of the Government.
The Parliament of Navarre:
*Is also legitimised to bring forward an appeal of unconstitutionality before the Constitutional Court.
*Chooses the Senator which corresponds to Navarre as an Autonomous Community.
*Chooses the President of the Office of the Comptroller of Navarre.
*Must be informed by the Government of Navarre, to whom it corresponds to keep watch over the defence of the integrity of the Regional government system of Navarre, of any violation of privilege which may come about.
*Decides on the authorisation to the Regional Government to issue government debt, to raise warranties and open credit.
*Must declare itself prior to the formalisation of Agreements between the Regional Government and the State, and between the Regional Government and the Autonomous Communities.
*Must authorise the Regional Government to exercise the initiative for the State to transfer, delegate or attribute to Navarre other powers and authority not covered by the Law of Furtherance of the "Fuero" (code of laws).
*Is the Regional body authorized to exercise the initiative for the incorporation of Navarre in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country as well as to separate it, as the case may be, from the same.
*Can present act propositions before the General Courts.
The Parliament is an institution which has autonomy, with regard to other institutions, with which it can prepare the Regulations or resolutions which control its internal functioning and pass the Budgets which it requires annually in order to attend to its needs and activities.
The Parliament meets during two periods of sittings a year: in the months of January to June and from September to December. Parliament meets in ordinary sessions usually from Monday to Friday. It may meet in exceptional circumstances outside these periods of sessions, in extraordinary sessions The number of plenary sessions may not exceed sixteen in one year.
Parliamentary work is governed by the principles of transparency and publicity. The Plenary Sessions of Parliament are public, except in those cases expressly indicated in the Regulations. Committee Sessions are not public but the attendance of representatives of communications and mass media is authorised. Also, Navarrese citizens are informed directly through what is published by the aforementioned media or in the official publications of Parliament, the Official Gazette and the Journal of Sessions, of the agreements and opinions of the Parliamentarians on matters dealt with.
The bills, initiatives and documents which are to be debated by the different bodies of the House, as well as the agreements adopted, are published in the Official Gazette of the Parliament of Navarre. Interventions of parliamentarians in debates are reproduced entirely in the Journal of Sessions.