Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pointless thoughts while listening to the great Frank Sinatra:

The regional election campaign is well under way and there is no news, just the various parties slagging one another off. The Bipartite (the Catalan Socialists and Communists), the Esquerra Republicana national socialists, who are no longer part of the Tripartite, and moderate nationalist Convergence and Union are all running against the PP, and each is accusing the other of wanting to make a post-election coalition with the pariahs. Convergence and Union actually did this while Aznar was PM, and so CiU candidate Artur Mas went to a notary and swore he would never make a deal with them no matter what happens. CiU, meanwhile, is accusing both the PP, the PSC, and the Communists (who prefer to be called "ecosocialists") of not really being Catalan parties, but rather "branch offices" of the national People's and Socialist parties.

La Vanguardia's survey, released on Sunday, has CiU with 35.5% of the vote and 52-54 seats in the regional parliament; the PSC has 29% and 38-40 seats; Esquerra with 12.1% of the vote and 16-18 seats; the PP with 10.5% and 13 seats; and the Communists with 10.4% and 12-13 seats.

Parliament has 135 seats, and you need 68 for a majority, so the math is pretty clear. A CiU-PP conservative coalition would just barely not sum up enough seats. A CiU-Esquerra nationalist coalition would form a majority, and so would a repeat of the Socio-Commie-ERC Tripartite. What I think most of us would prefer is a CiU-PSC grand coalition in which the two major parties, who are also the two parties considered most moderate by the voters, cut a deal.

Spain, itself, basically has a two-party system, with the conservative PP and the social democratic PSOE. The Communists always vote with the PSOE. There are powerful regional parties in Catalonia, the Basque country, and Galicia, however, which makes the system much more complicated in those places. The PP doesn't really count as a major party in either Catalonia or the Basque country, while the Socialists have a significant presence in both places.

The problem with Esquerra is that they're a wild card. They can't be trusted as part of a coalition, because they are an opposition party by nature. They want to yell and scream for Catalan independence, and nothing more. The only proposals they make are ones that would increase Catalan autonomy. They are a single-issue party, and have no program worth describing on any issue that really means anything.

Actually, it's rare for a Spanish party to have what we'd call a program in the United States. What the various parties mostly do is make wild promises of all the money they're going to hand out to the voters, fail to specify where they are going to get it, and then cheerfully forget those promises when the election's over.

This campaign season, the most-discussed issue has been government subsidies for parents. I will personally eat a barretina in the Plaza Sant Jaume if a single one of the measures proposed by the various parties is ever adopted.

Oh, by the way, speaking of adoption, this movie-stars-going-to-the-Third-World-and-adopting-kids-to-be-treated-as-pets has to stop now. How insulting to those countries. Hey, Madonna, why don't you invest all your dough setting up a microcredit bank in Malawi? That would actually do some good for the children there, helping their parents build a future. Or how about setting up a real adoption program for kids whose parents have died of AIDS so that thousands of them could go live in the First World instead of just one?

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