Unlearning from the Spanish Elections

The news from Spain after the elections of the 20th of November were overwhelming:  Le Monde could write that the “Spanish give an absolute majority to M. Rajoy” (Le Monde 22/11/11), El Pais, that Spain gave all political power to the “Partido Popular” (El Pais 21/11/11), and the New York Times, that “Spaniards struggling with high unemployment and a credit squeeze delivered a punishing verdict on almost eight years of Socialist government at the ballot box on Sunday, turning to the conservative Popular Party in the hopes of alleviating the pain of Europe’s debt crisis” (New York Times 20/11/11).  The language is expressive, the conclusion seemingly obvious, the population of Spain turned to the PP after the Socialist Party of Spain’s failure to deal with the consequences of the global economic crisis for Spain’s economy.

The question of the fairness of these electoral results would not even be raised were it not for the question that many have raised in turn: how was this possible given the presence/impact of the 15th of May movement in Spain?  Does this not confirm the marginal nature of 15-M in Spanish society?  (José Maria Aznar could say in October of this year that 15-M was a marginal extreme left-wing group, in no way representative of Spanish society (El Pais (16/10/11)).

Before answering such questions, it is important to point to the actual results of these elections, keeping always in mind the peculiarities of the Spanish electoral system (the D’Hondt method of counting votes in a system of proportional representation and the fact that representation is calculated regionally and not nationally).

The PP increases its voice by roughly 500,000 votes (by comparison to the elections of 2008) and passes from opposition to absolute majority, capturing 10,830,693 of 24,590,557 votes.  This in turn only amounts to 30.27% of all the people that could vote (an increase of 0.96%, over the party’s results from 2008)… hardly what can be described as a turn of the Spanish people to the political right.

If there is anything noteworthy in these elections (aside from 9,710,775 people or 28.31% of the electorate, not having voted, with a further more than 600,000 people having voted blank), it was the PSOE losing 4.3 million votes from 2008.  Where did these votes go?  “Izquierda Unida” gained 700,000 votes, and “Unión Progreso y Democracia” almost 800,000 votes.  But even assuming that all of these can be explained by a shift from the PSOE, it still does not account for all of the Socialist’s Party’s lost votes.  The conclusion would seem to be that many on the “left” in Spain simply did not bother to vote.

If the Spanish electoral system were minimally just, the results in terms of seats in parliament would have looked very different.  There would, in other words, not have been a PP majority.  And does 30.27% of a popular vote give the right to any political party, with majority parliamentary representation, to do whatever it wants, given that the majority of the voters did not actually vote for it?  No nos representan!

What the Spanish elections point to above all else is something far more troubling, and that is that our “representative” liberal democracies actually represent very little, that our politics is trapped in a rotation between two parties who represent the same interests, but waltz with each other through the halls of power, as circumstances dictate, and that the ultimate ideal is the scandalous governments of technocrats that the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF have imposed on Italy and Greece.  Never in recent memory has “democracy” revealed itself to be so irrelevant, while at the same time,  rarely has power so unashamedly shown its face.

One virtue, among others,  of the 15-M in Spain has been never to assume its power, to always accept that it is above all a movement, and not a representative party or organism, perhaps capable of growing, but only as an ongoing  movement.  The elections in Spain have changed nothing in this regard.

For more information, see:

http://noticias.lainformacion.com/elecciones-generales/elecciones-generales-2011-las-injusticias-de-la-ley-electoral-este-20n_4Q4tNx1Li0lqQMga0mUrc5/ http://periodismohumano.com/sociedad/el-pp-gana-las-elecciones-en-espana.html

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