On D’Hondt method, Spanish elections and the Chiki Chiki

Rodolfo Chikilicuatre

Hobbes, the Spanish elections took place last Sunday and we finally have a winner: Rodolfo Chikilicuatre.

Eurovison contestant or Spanish PM, if you ask me what I prefer, a fictional person to represent a country in the future or a person to represent a country in a fictional future, I think I would go for the latter.

Zapatero and his PSOE party won the re-election. It doesn’t really matter who won, right-wing Partido Popular (PP) or the socialist, neither of them was up to the job. As I commented before democracy, as capitalism, seems to be the least awful way of running our societies.

However, it seems to me that fully democratic voting systems are left for ‘less important matters’ or matters that don’t really affect the status quo. Let me explain myself, Hobbes.

Eurovision
Rodolfo Chikilicuatre and his Baila el Chiki Chiki song will be representing Spain in Belgrade in the 2008 Eurovision contest. La Casa Azul, SexualArkaitz and others missed the cut, but from a 1 person 1 vote perspective, Salvemos Eurovision voting was an entirely democratic and transparent process. I know it is a simplification, but all voters new that Rodolfo Chikilicuatre is a fictional product from the El Terrat factory. A fictional character already won the Eurovision contest back in 2006. The Finish band Lordi beat the other 23 contestants with their Hard Rock Hallelujah without even stepping out of their monster customs.

Spanish elections
Back in Madrid, the Socialists party won but didn’t quiet manage to get majority representation in parliament, so they will have to go hat in hand to minority regional parties to form a coalition government. Most likely it will be again the Catalan or Basque moderate nationalist parties who will become the hinge powers.

Paraphrasing my friend’s teenager daughter: ‘That is not fair.’ I am originally from one of those regions, and I agree that it isn’t fair.

Whether you like it or not, as in many other countries, the D’Hondt method is the one used to allocate seats in Spain. Quoting our Wikifriend:

[…] The rationale behind this procedure (and the Sainte-Laguë procedure) is to allocate seats in proportion to the number of votes a list received, by maintaining the ratio of votes received to seats allocated as close as possible. This makes it possible for parties having relatively few votes to be represented. […]

But neither is fair that the second political power in Spain, PP, managed to squeeze only an extra 3,38% seats in parliament out of a 6,36% increase in percentage of total vote. Quoting again the Wikioracle:

[…] D’Hondt slightly favours large parties and coalitions over scattered small parties, […]

The future is uncertain, the future is unfair, but you know what you can pretty much expect from Mr. Chikilicuatre: a landslide if Europeans bite the ‘Spanish summer-song episode III’ bait or a zero-vote punishment for lack of taste.

But, how do we know what to expect from Zapatero and Co. (or from Rajoy and friends for that matter) if they continue talking the population into fairy tales of a beautiful and prosperous future ahead?

You can either follow the lead and focus in local issues and unimportant matters (for the long term and general public) like gay marriage or claiming rights over a Mediterranean rock, with the waste of political energy and time that this implies, or go for a more realistic and informed decision. The second option is hard to make because most if not all Spanish media and politicians (in a US-like fashion) think the world revolves around Hispania. Well, hello there! You are wrong, thinks do happen out there and you need to solve your own problems. Vote with your feet.

Today’s FT comments on post-election government-opposition relations:

With 153 deputies – five more than in 2004 – the Popular party vows it will be the strongest opposition force Spain has ever had. It is not yet clear whether this will mean another four years of head-on confrontation, or usher in a period of more constructive engagement with the government.

Spain needs a collaborative opposition to join the government and tackle the issues ahead. Given the PP’s proven record as a destructive opposition I don’t see how Spain is going to get out of the deep pit is unwarily sinking in.

My wish list letter to the new parliament (left and right together) would include amongst many other things that Spain needs to fight full on against from day one:

  1. Lack of competitiveness especially in a flat world
  2. Aging population and lack of pension funding
  3. Accept immigration since it is the only way forward for the survival of the social system
  4. Increasing security issues (global/local terrorism, organised crime)
  5. Breakneck speed drop in the quality of education news to be reverted before it is too late
  6. Simplify the tax system
  7. Increase competition in energy and telecommunication sectors
  8. Build a true Senate that represents regions, not the actual one that copies the Parliament, where regional matters can be discussed amongst regions, not government-opposition dynamics
  9. Protect the residential property landlord to increase the rental market and ease the life of the younger generations who cannot afford current home prices.

Being honest, I wouldn’t put my money in neither of the above points happening in the short or medium term. Sad. But true.

I look forward to your commentaries, Hobbes.

Until the next time,

.Calvin

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