Spanish Presidential Elections: Dumb and Even Dumber

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Make no mistake of it, Spain’s incumbent president, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, probably has the lowest IQ and his cabinet have the lowest combined IQs of any ruling government in Europe. These guys are just dumb, and also naive. They’ve botched almost every foreign policy, economic, and national security decision possible. They have also engaged in activities that have ranged from the utterly incompetent (the AVE bullet train projects) to the offensive (energy company mergers) to the mind-boggling (ETA negotiations). The Ministry of Finance went so far as to blame inflation on the citizens for leaving too big of a tip when ordering coffee (Spaniards never leave more than spare change, by the way), and he told people they should save money by eating rabbit for Christmas dinner. If it weren’t so outright pathetic, it would be laughable.

But never fear, the opposition party, the Partido Popular, led by clueless imbecile Mariano Rajoy and helped by the Spanish Catholic Bishops are making sure that Spain will be ruled for another four years by Zapatero’s PSOE socialist party. Last week, those Catholic Bishops did the democratically responsible thing and actually made a public statement telling Spaniards that as Catholics they were obliged to vote against Zapatero because of his stance on abortion rights and negotiating with terrorists. Last time I checked, Christianity talked about God, not Caesar. It’s more double jeopardy. Bishops should be talking about how we live our lives to stay out of hell, not out of jail.

Then today at lunch while reading the conservative Spanish newspaper El ABC (Marca was already taken), I ran across something incredibly disturbing. Rajoy is proposing legislation to regulate the use of the veil (meaning female Muslims wearing a head garment) in public places and schools. Why? To avoid discrimination against women. Well, this got me going. Spain has the worst income disparity between men and women of any country of Europe. Hey, do you think workplace discrimination in Spain is caused by the 25 Muslim women in the entire country who may wear a cloth on their head?

The ethnocentricism is appalling! Spain, a country that made divorce fully legal in 1980, is worried about the discrimination that female Muslims suffer by choosing to wear the hijab? Don’t you think that a person who is told that they cannot openly practice their religion is not going to have a strong sense of religious discrimination? Don’t you think that freedom of expression 30 years after 40 years of dictatorship is a little more important?

But wait a second, isn’t Catholicism — the official state religion protected under the Constitution — incredibly discriminatory against women? While walking home today from work, I passed a group of Catholic nuns. They all had their heads covered. Shouldn’t they also be prohibited from wearing their habits in public spaces and in schools? Spain also has semi-public schools called colegios concertados where the “public” education is managed by Catholic clergy. Doesn’t exposing children to habit-wearing nuns, discriminated against in Church doctrine and politics, foment the same discrimination that Rajoy and company want to protect us all from? And of course, it is surely discriminatory to force a “public” education taught by religious clergy, dressed up in their collars or habits, on a child of another faith, especially when you’re telling that child that her teachers’ way of dressing is holy whereas as the child’s is degrading.

Rajoy also came up with another brilliant policy idea called the Contract for Immigrants. Here all immigrants living in Spain would have to sign a contract saying that they would (i) learn the language, (ii) obey the laws, and (iii) respect the customs of Spain. The second one is simply stupid — you don’t contract to obey the law, you always have to obey the law (it is like negotiating with a terrorist or a murderer so that they will promise to obey the law). But respect the customs? What are the customs? Have a two hour lunch? Take a siesta? Pay women less money than men?

Shortly after seeing the nuns this evening, I walked into a small convenient store while talking on the phone to Hysidro. All I was buying was one loaf of bread, but the guy in front of me was holding the line at the cash register while his girlfriend was going back and forth from the aisles to the front of the line adding new stuff. I said to Hysidro, “Is not knowing how to wait in line a Spanish custom? Maybe I am also going to have to become a retarded cabron like these two if Rajoy gets elected”. Needless to say, the guy in front of me overheard my comment, got nervous, but continued his lack of civility.

The dying shame of it all is that Spain does not have primary elections to decide the national candidate. With a total lack of transparency (as is done with all voting — party members never vote against the party), the party elite decide which candidates will run for which office and represent which congressional seats. This means that there is absolutely no internal competitiveness and no individual accountability — you never know whether the candidate or the party wins or loses. Madrid’s mayor, Gallardon, also a member of Rajoy’s party would hands down beat any of the party’s elite. That’s probably why they don’t have primaries and aren’t letting him get close to any national elections. They know that they’d be toast. The result is that Rajoy and company will lose again and Spain will have to deal with four more years of Dumb.

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3 Comments

Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

3 responses to “Spanish Presidential Elections: Dumb and Even Dumber

  1. Borja

    I completely agree about the lack of democracy of the Spanish system. You haven’t mentioned the last piece that ensures a completely unfair process which is the use of the D’Hondt system which penalizes minoritary parties such as Izquierda Unida (not that I am a big fan of them)and helps big nation wide parties and regional nationalist parties to stay in power. The USA might have a lot of defects, but certainly the campaign we are all witnessing it’s very inspiring.

  2. eric

    Thanks, Borja, and you’ll have to explain to me more in depth how the D’Hondt system works in Spain.

    What bothers me especially is the closed lists and lack of political accountability by the congressmen to the voters. Because of the lists, no one really votes for their representatives, but for a party that decides who will represent the people. With this system, you never have internal party discipline issues arising, but you also don’t allow for people on a local level to have real, meaningful representation at the national level.

    For example, in the U.S. you vote separately for your president and senator. The president does not need a majority in Congress to govern — the Congress and the Executive are two different worlds. Thus, your senator is first and foremost concerned about her voters back in her home state because those are the ones who elect her — not the party. And if you want to move up in the party ranks or even in office, you do so by individually winning elections.

    This simply doesn’t happen in Spanish politics. The party presents its candidacy for president with its closed lists of who will be the senators and congressmen for each region. People vote for the party and depending on how many votes the party gets, that’s how many seats the get in congress, and whomever gets the most seats (in other words has the majority) gets the presidency. The party controls who represents you, not you. It almost destroys the need for having numerous congressmen. You mind as well just have one rep from each party and that rep has a voting weight relative to the party’s performance in the elections. That would save a lot of money.

    Also because the party determines the lists, you never really learn which party members are competitive and are “really” winning elections, and who to blame if someone screws up. The individual screw-ups are shield by the party’s veil of secrecy.

    Anyways, enough said. Thanks

  3. And with “la niña de Rajoy” the whole thing just got even dumber. Aren’t there any decent politicians around here?

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