Tuesday, December 1, 2009


In the coming months Britain will hold a general election. Now it could happen that against all the odds Labour will sneak back in but the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown and Darling, would be shown the door by the voters. Neither is likely but it could happen.

Equally the Conservatives might romp home but by a quirk of fate the voters in his constituency could dump the party’s leader David Cameron on the pile of out of work Old Etonians. Again unlikely but it could happen.

The reason it could happen is that under the British electoral system every MP, be it the Prime Minister or leader of the opposition or a humble member of the House, has to fight in effect his or her own mini general election. They are only returned to parliament if the voters in their constituency given them their backing – if they don’t they’re out whatever the broader result may be.

Now in Spain that scenario is virtually impossible. Every province has its own closed slate of candidates to fight for the seats. The number is decreed by the size of the population - the chiefs like Zapatero and Rajoy always head the list leaving the Indians to be sacrificed.

So it is interesting that one of Spain’s leading parliamentarians, the president of Congress José Bono, has been speaking at a meeting of the Fórum Europa in Barcelona on the need for a new electoral law in Spain. He also indicated that he could be looking to follow the British model.

The idea is to give wider powers and freedom of expression to the party and its MPs. Bono said elected representatives should in the future not be afraid to voice their opinions on their leaders, be it good or bad.

Bono said that he was looking at ways to fundamentally change the structure of the parties and to modify the electoral system. He says he wants to see a wider spread of power rather than it being held in the hands of “one, two or three people”.

No major formula has yet been revealed but it could see the removal of the current closed party lists to be replaced by open lists. Bono added that he was also exploring the option of introducing some of the single seat representatives as seen in the UK.

Well change is needed because politics in Spain is in crisis. Curiously it is not a political crisis as such but one brought about by the widespread corruption in all the political parties. The problem is that the proposals being brought forward by Bono have to be agreed and approved by the nation’s politicians – so will these turkeys vote for an early Christmas? Perhaps a better idea would be for a set of options to be set before the voters and they then vote for them in a referendum.

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