Project description

The Royal Decree-Law is a legal rule provided in the Spanish Constitution that allows the Spanish Government to “issue temporary legislative provisions in case of extraordinary and urgent need”. Nevertheless, the Spanish Government in minority, lead by President Pedro Sánchez since a motion of censure on June 2018, is using this legal rule to pass laws without an ordinary parliamentary debate due to the difficulties of the socialists to close agreements with the rest of political parties (the Congress is so fragmented that every agreement needs the approval of at least three parliamentary groups).

Because of that, we have built a database based on the Spanish Official State Gazette (BOE), where every Royal Decree-Law is published since 1976, using a Python library called Selenium. After that, we have cleaned the database and andalyzed it with Microsoft Excel. Since the first article published on August 2018, we are updating the database weekly. The database has been the source for five articles published on El Confidencial and put the abuse of the Royal Decree-Law by the Spanish Government in the public light.

What makes this project innovative?

For the first time in Spain, we have built a database that compiles every Royal Decree-Law approved in the last 40 years. We have structured data published on unstructured format on the Spanish Official State Gazette (BOE), so we are been able to track the use of Royal Decree-Laws by the socialist Government in comparison with the previous governments.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

Our first article published on August 2018 was replicated by other newspapers and radios. It has served to place in the public sphere the abuse of the Royal Decree-Laws by the Spanish Government, specially by President Pedro Sánchez, who has defended this use due to the legislative blockage on the Congress. This abuse is one of the main critics about the Presidency of Pedro Sánchez.

Source and methodology

The main source of the database is every Royal Decree-Law published on the Spanish Official State Gazette (BOE) since 1976. We have extracted these categories for every Royal Decree-Law: legislature, government, president, start date of the government, end date of the government, title, number, date, BOE number, BOE date and link. Then, we have combined the start and end dates of every government, legislature and president to know how many Royal Decree-Laws has approved every government in its first days of government.

Technologies Used

In order to scrape all the laws hosted in this domain we used a Python library called Selenium. This component runs automatically a webdriver and lets you open the web browser (Firefox or Chrome) and make multiple requests. We looped throught all the pages and stored the results in a tsv file so we could make the analysis in Microsoft Excel. For the infographics, we used Adobe Illustrator.

Project members

Antonio Hernández, Rafael Méndez


Additional links


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