By Anne Kay
IF ever there was an argument against proportional representation without a form of “second round”, then the Spanish local and autonomous elections held on May 25 are a prime example. The number of towns and provinces that have no idea which party will be the leading power for the next four years is incredible. The voters have absolutely no control over the final share out of power since their responsibility was to elect the different councillors and members of autonomous parliaments but it is the task of those elected people to choose the corresponding mayors and presidents of the autonomous communities. Where there is an overall majority, as in Palma and Llucmajor, or the Balearics as a whole, then there is no problem. But for the island of Majorca, and for towns like Calvia, Andratx, Alcudia and Pollensa, nothing is clear so far. I have mentioned the six towns that we covered in the run up to the elections, and in all a reasonable foreign participation will have influenced in a greater or lesser extent on the results, all depending on the proportion of voters they represented. It was interesting to see that this time a lower proportion of foreign people who had managed to get themselves on the electoral roll did in fact go and vote in comparison with 1999. This can presumably be interpreted as that more people were interested in participating as a general idea, but when the date came around, a lower percentage were actually present on the island. In 1999 the elections were in June, this year in May, and probably June was a better month to find more people here. Which just goes to show that in many cases, the foreign people who were put on the census were not really people who spend the majority of the year here, but then I do not know how any authority could keep a control on that. But back to proportional voting and the results. The most important thing to realise is that although voters choose a closed list of candidates for a particular party, each member on the list who gets elected, receives a certificate to authorise his or her presence on the local or insular council and this is a completely personal document. If the person falls out with the party, there is no legal way that the party could insist on the person standing down, in which case he or she would no longer be a representative of the party, but rather an independent council member. This does not happen often, but when it does, the person is known as a ‘transfuga' which translates in politics as a turncoat. In the case of Andratx at present, we do not have an example of this, but rather a case of a candidate deciding to renounce her seat, i.e. Margalida Moner of the Partido Popular. She has decided that her town has shown a public wish for change (the PP lost 2 seats) and by standing down she makes way for a more probable change within the party and the possible pacts. From the interviews with the different candidates in the six towns with most possible foreign voting presence, it was obvious that the large parties such as the PP and the PSOE were in favour of having a second round of voting in places with no overall majority, to see who the smaller parties would pact with, but that the smaller parties were all in favour of the proportional voting and did not think that a second round was necessary. This was natural since the present system gives the smaller parties strong bargaining leverage to obtain disproportionate ruling power.
This is how in Andratx the sole councillor of an independent party was able to become Mayor for some time, and in the case of the Majorcan Council, the president only had three seats of the 33 and only 9.1 per cent of the votes. This time the situation has been repeated with the Majorcan Union party winning only 9.2 per cent of the votes and three seats again, but Sra Maria Antonia Munar is still being courted from both sides, PP and PSOE. In the former case she would be returning to her original allies of over 8 years ago, and in the latter she would be letting the so called Progress Pact continue to have a representation of power, all be it only on Majorca, not in the Balearic Government. There seems to be a little confusion about how the Council of Majorca seats were distributed. It does not depend on the distribution in the towns, and can in fact be quite different, since in the towns there are many independent parties that win a lot of local representation but are not present on the island council. The pink list of candidates that the foreigners did not use, has a list for each Insular Council and then all those elected form also the Balearic Parliament. In the case of the Balearics, the ruling party, PP this time thanks to a swing in the vote on Ibiza and Formentera islands, then has the cabinet made up of Consellers or local ministers you could say, chosen from the elected members of that party. The Consellers are then no longer simple Balearic MPs and so the next people in the list move up to take part in the parliament, and also on the particular Insular Council they belong to. The Insular Council president, however, is allowed to choose his or her own island local ministers, from non elected people, and despite the fact that those people cannot actually vote in Insular Council meetings, that is how the small party gets such a lot more presence and public recognition. By the end of this week, on Saturday to be precise, the doubts as to who will be ruling in each of the local councils will have dissipated.


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