Here's the way elections work in Spain, and we'll take for example the Madrid municipal elections, coming up in May. Say there are 25 seats on the City Council. Each party nominates 25 candidates, who are called the party's list. Representation is proportional to the percentage of the vote the party gets. (This is simplified. The real system they use is d'Hondt's.) So say I'm the People's Party, the conservative PP, and I get 60% of the vote. That means that I get 60% of the seats, or 15 of them. So the top 15 names on my party's list go on the City Council. You need 5% of the vote, minimum, to get a seat, and the higher on the list you are, the more likely it is that you will get one of the party's seats. The top of the list of the party with most seats is the mayor. Coalitions are sometimes necessary. Right now the Socialists hold the Barcelona mayoralty in coalition with Initiative (the Communists) and the Republican Left, for example. The PP holds Madrid straight-out, and it also holds the mayoralties of most of Spain's larger cities.
There have been a few fireworks so far in the Madrid election. First the Socialists picked Trinidad Jiménez, an attractive female, as number one on their list, and chose a Glamour Shot of her, all dolled up in leather and looking come-hither, as the campaign photo. Of course, there were protests, from aggrieved feminists and from the other parties, as well as some Socialists who just thought it was kind of tacky. I figured the whole time it was a publicity stunt, since they retracted the picture and got even more newspaper space--the Vanguardia didn't even pick up on the story until the censorship angle on it came out--for "submitting to censorship". Then Prime Minister Aznar's wife, Ana Botella, announced she would run high on the PP's list for the City Council, and that gave them something to talk about on the radio for a few days. Now the Communist United Left's number two, Carlos Gutiérrez, has resigned his place on the ballot because it came out that he hadn't paid child support for this three kids. Real moral folks, those Communists. Ethical and all that. Responsible and the like.
By the way, we have, I think, four Communist parties in Spain. There's the United Left, the official CP for Spain, and then they had a split-off and some of their guys left to start another party, which has apparently sunk like a stone. In Catalonia, the United Left's arm is the United and Alternative Left, which itself is a split off Initiative for Catalonia, the Catalan nationalist Communists. That's fine with me. They're so dumb they can't even figure out that they should all get together.