THE Spanish election system continues to amaze me. Not only does a party have to win by a real landslide to get a majority it takes almost two months to appoint a government. A classic example is the local election results here five years ago. The party with 150'000 votes (its nearest rival had 60'000) lost because it was still a couple of thousand votes short of a majority. Five lesser parties joined forces and formed a government. The result of the general election this year was more straight forward. The party with the most votes, in this case the socialists under Jose Luis Zapatero won, and they will form a government. But it still takes almost two months for the new government to take power. Zapatero is still pondering his cabinet. As there is no shadow system for the opposition, he almost has to start from scratch with the incoming ministers having no experience because they have never had to shadow a minister. Zapatero will be finally sworn in this weekend. The election losers, in this case the Partido Popular, have for the last two months been involved in probably their biggest test of their seven years in government, even though they shouldn't have been there in the first place. They have not just been holding the fort they have been the politic heads in the war against terrorism. It could be argued that Zapatero, when he finally takes power, will oppose how the Partido Popular government has handled the terrorism situation. Also, there was the issue of whether Spanish troops, who are to be pulled back from Iraq, need to be replaced once their tour of duty is completed or just gently slimmed down ahead of their withdrawl. I feel that in the light of what has happened in Spain over recent weeks the electoral system is in need of an overhaul.
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