Monday, March 3, 2008
It's one of these days, not sure which one - obviously I'm being forced to abstain (again).
And it's not just that an important Basque political force has been declared illegal by the Neoinquisition. It is that it doesn't matter at all. Like Che Guevara said when asked about US elections: lo mismo da que gane Juana o su hermana (it's the same if Jane or her sister wins).
Browsing the Bolivarian site Rebelión, I found (among other interesting stuff) this article that discusses the manipulation that is the Spanish electoral law, embedded in the constitution (so it's even harder to reform).
It begins recalling that the current rulers, the so-called socialists, promised almost 30 years ago to reform it. Then it quotes Herrero de Miñón, maybe the only sincere Spanish fascist (and consequently relegated from active politics long ago), on how he and others designed the system with the clear goal of making it hardest for the communist to reach any decent level of representation and favor right-wing options. The author suggests that the pseudo-socialists are keeping the law as it is precisely to be able to keep calling for the "useful vote" (vote for us: voting communist/whatever will be a waste) and keeping the bipartisan system as it is.
The electoral system is based in the province (administrative division created in the 19th century, often breaking apart larger traditional administrations, inspired in the Jacobin French departaments). These provinces do not vary much in extension but can have extremely different populations: some have more than 6 million inhabitants (1/7 of the total population of Spain), while many others only maybe 250, 150 or even as few as 90 thousand. Independently of their population they all get 2 deputies and 4 senators each. All the Senate and 29% of the Congress of Deputies are geographically divided that way. The only exceptions are the semi-autonomous municipalties of Ceuta and Melilla (colonial enclaves in Morocco) and some minor reforms to the Senate allowing for some extra senators to be appointed (not popularly elected) by the (more historical) autonomous communities.
Additionally the rest of deputies (248) are apportioned between the provinces.
Neither the Spanish system is federal nor the provinces are constituent units of the state, but rather more or less artificial centrally-designed subdivisions. Most provinces are quite rural in character and have very low population, getting only 3 deputies each (would be 1 if proportional). Of these, most belong to Castile and Aragon, the ethno-political core of Spain and overall a quite conservative region. With only some 33% of the total Spanish population, the Castile-Aragon Spanish core area (8 autonomous communities out of 17, 23 provinces out of 50) has almost half of the representation. The rural provinces (with less than 500,000 people) account for 30 out of 50 provinces (automatically almost 60% of the Senate and also close to majority in the Congress), while the urban provinces (over 1 million people) account for just 11 provinces, what is only 22% in the Senate and maybe a third of the Congress.
Some day I will work out more clearly defined figures but guess it's enough for now.
Not only the urban movements, like the communists are very disfavored, also the independentists are, as the two more active nationalist areas, Catalonia and the Basque Country are markedly urban since long ago.
You may argue that it's worse in the winner-takes-all systems like those of the USA or the UK. Maybe but still it's a Jacobin system and, worry not, the tories (post-fascists) are promising in this campaign to reform the system for worse: they would forbid all lists not reaching a minimal apportion from being represented at all in any case. Not that it would make much of a difference anyhow.
Democracy? I would laugh if I wouldn't be about to cry.