Monday, 21 December 2015

Humpty-dumpty parliament

Sometimes silence is better than gold, dear reader. And today is one such day. When I got up this morning, it was with the intent of writing an elaborate, lengthy, well-argued and utterly profound analysis of yesterday’s general elections in Spain. But what do you think I discovered, when – for a quick check-up - I re-read previous political comments Alfred B Mittington had made? Well, I discovered that the Mittington Analysis of the municipal elections of May 24th last, is still perfectly valid and applicable to yesterday’s national elections! All you need to do is ignore the timeframe and pretend we’re talking about the national parliament instead of local councils. Read it here if you’re interested.

So that simply leaves giving you yesterday’s results and the forecast for the future. The former is pretty easy; the latter less so. Limiting myself to the four big parties that really matter the seats won in the Madrid Cortes are:

PP (conservative)       123
Ciudadanos (liberal)     40
PSOE (socialist)          90
Podemos (radical left)  69

This result is hailed as a triumph by the two new parties (Ciudadanos and Podemos) and by everyone who is sick or tired of the old petrified two-party system in which PP and PSOE alternated in power, both abusing it to their heart’s delight when their turn came. However, it is one thing to applaud a socio-political watershed for the history book, Max Weber style; and quite another to govern a country in deep trouble, like Spain is today. This fragmented, shattered & scattered, parliament obliges the political leadership to form some sort of coalition; and even if Spaniards were temperamentally fit for that (and believe me they are not!), it would still be an impossible job, as no workable combination (i.e. naturally left-leaning or right-leaning) reaches the parliamentary majority of 176 in the 350 seat lower house.

You can do the math for yourselves; but believe ol’ Al’ when he says that there are only two, equally unthinkable combinations which add up numerically.

The first is a coalition of the PP and the PSOE, good for over 210 seats This would be a laugh, after the 40 years these two have been at each other’s throats like Cain and Abel, and it would immediately be seen as the Coalition of the Biparty Dinosaurs, trying to hold on to their old dominance of power. Let’s see how well that goes down with an electorate which has just shown it is sick and tired of just that.

'You first…' - 'No! You!'

The second is what was already dubbed long ago as the Coalition of Losers: PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos, leaving the formal victor out of the loop. In a northern country, like Germany or The Netherland, this might work, as these places have a long democratic history and much experience with the subtleties of coalition-building and maintaining stability. But Spanish democracy is young and passions are strong and honour is a (deadly) virtue among the Dons. So I fail to see how these Three Graces could possibly decide upon a threesome. I mean: one of them would have to undress first, and then they’d have to agree upon all sorts of positions

In short: Spain is living in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes.

You want my wildest guess as to the future? My wildest guess is that they will put in some minority government supported by the tiny arms of a whole range of Lilliput lower house factions. It will be the shortest-lived government of Spanish democracy; and in 2016 we’ll have new elections. And then let’s see if the Bipartisan Jurassic truly ended yesterday evening…