The city of Madrid has a city council and mayor, both of which are popularly elected. All Spaniards 18 years of age and older are entitled to vote, and the voter turnout is usually high. Each member of the city council also serves as the city administrator for a particular area of government-for example, culture, police, taxation, or education. The Autonomous Community of Madrid has an elected regional parliament similar to many European legislatures.
The regional parliament elects a president who heads the regional government. A cabinet of ministers assists the president with the various administrative subdivisions of the autonomous community's government. Most offices have four-year terms.
Both Madrid's municipal and regional governments face significant issues involving welfare, primary and secondary education, and regional development. Most debates focus on the best way to manage rapid urban growth and improve the quality of life within Madrid. Particularly important are the issues of growing traffic problems and the pollution created by so many automobiles. In the 1990s the government began to require emission controls on cars and to encourage the use of cleaner types of gasoline. Nevertheless, the pollution problem remains serious.
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