Sat. Oct 19th, 2019

The antidotes to the blockade

The investment It is delayed and it is not the first time in recent years. Between 2015 and 2016, Spain remained 314 days without government and, as now, the mutual vetoes were to blame for the blockade. The question that must be asked is: do the current rules of the game designed for a bipartisan democracy make it difficult to form a government in a scenario with multiple actors? Beyond considerations on the lack of coalition culture, there is a certain consensus in understanding that the constitutional system does not fit well with the new context of fragmentation.

Political leaders have already begun to propose alternatives. The acting President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, proposed – as he advanced The vanguard in its yesterday edition- a reform of Article 99 of the Constitution
to facilitate that it governs the most voted list. For its part, the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, raised on Tuesday reform the electoral law to reward the most voted party with a 50-seat bonus, following the Greek model. Both proposals share the objective of helping the most voted force to reach the presidency and would involve reforms of the Constitution and the electoral law.

The exhaustion of bipartisanship and the lack of covenant culture make it difficult to create stable majorities

Sanchez's proposal would be inspired by the election system of the Lehendakari in the Basque Country. Unlike what happens in the Congress, in Euskadi it is possible that more than one candidate comes to the investiture in a second vote. After listening to the proposals, the groups always vote in positive to one of the candidates, so that the most voted is imposed. Moved to Congress, the Basque model would allow Sanchez to be elected only with the votes of the PSOE (123), as long as the alternative candidate did not surpass him. Introducing this system requires nothing less than to modify the Constitution. Article 99 establishes that the President of the Government must be elected by first vote by absolute majority and, second, by simple majority. Not being nuclear issues of the Magna Carta, three fifths of Congress would be enough to approve the reform.

The latest surveys of the CIS have asked about the eventual constitutional reform proposed by Sánchez. 43% of respondents are in favor in the survey published this week.

Some experts are suspicious of this proposal. "He could manage to govern who only has a third of the votes or less," argues political scientist Ignacio Jurado, who counterproposes what is known as "negative parliamentarism", a system inspired by the northern European models.

"In Denmark or Sweden, the head of state directly appoints the prime minister, who is not forced to go through the endorsement of the investiture," explains Pedro Riera, co-author of a 2008 report on the reform of the electoral system for the Council of State. "The Government must earn its survival a posteriori", explains Riera. This model, which would also imply amending Article 99, would have a counterpart. "It would generate greater instability during the legislature," admits Jurado, who adds that, in order to preserve the control of Parliament, it should be accompanied by legislative changes to put less obstacles to motions of censorship or confidence.

The PP proposal is simple: grant a 50-seat bonus to the most voted force. Inspired by the Greek system, the popular argue that their plan would only imply modifying the electoral law because the Constitution already allows Congress to increase from the current 350 to 400 seats. However, this point is not so clear: the experts agree in seeing the formula as the introduction of a majority bias in a proportional system, which could give problems of constitutional reserve. In addition, it would not solve the problem: the PSOE, with this model, would not achieve an absolute majority today, "says Riera.

Another model that would mean a revolution in the Spanish electoral system but that would solve forever the problems of governability is the double return. As it happens in France, the Spaniards would choose in a second voting between the two candidates with more support. Despite its effectiveness, academics also have their doubts. "It is moving from a proportional system to a majority system, when the tendency of recent years is for systems to be increasingly proportional, and also imply a constitutional change and a deep political mentality," concludes Jurado.

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