Spanish Democracy

Matt Yglesias has returned from vacation in Spain where “they have this interesting political system (”democracy”) wherein if your party loses the election, the other party gets to make policy until they lose an election.”

Well . . . it’s a wee bit more complicated than that.  Leaving aside that the country was run by a military dictator within my memory, the system is rather messy thanks to the wonders of proportional representation.  Here’s the Wikipedia description of the last decade:

Prime Minister Aznar and the PP won reelection in March 2000, obtaining absolute majorities in both houses of parliament. This mandate allowed Aznar to form a government unencumbered by the coalition building that had characterized his earlier administration. […] However, in the aftermath of the March 11 terrorist bomb attacks in Madrid, the PP lost the 2004 elections to the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and its leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Rodríguez Zapatero was appointed Prime Minister after having secured the support of a few minor parties.

So, in Spain, as in the United States, losing parties can have substantial influence on policy. Worse yet, fringe parties can hold the keys to decisionmaking.

As an aside, for some reason, I recall Matt and other center-left bloggers being bigger fans of separation of powers and checks and balances when the Republicans were in charge.  Perhaps I’m mistaken?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Interesting Spanish political system (?democracy?). If your party loses, the other party makes policy until they lose: http://is.gd/iJz2

  2. Jay C. says:

    As an aside, for some reason, I recall Matt and other center-left bloggers being bigger fans of separation of powers and checks and balances when the Republicans were in charge. Perhaps I’m mistaken?

    I’ve read you for years. Knowing your sardonic wit, it’s safe to say that last question is rhetorical, yes?

  3. Fausta says:

    Boggles the mind that Yglesias has no concept of coalition governments.

  4. Leisureguy says:

    Germany and Japan are even worse than Spain, based on one’s memories of past intolerable regimes. Within my memory we even fought a war against Germany and Japan and Italy. I’m not sure what that has to do with the situation today, but it seems to be important, based on your remarks about Spain.

  5. SavageView says:

    The UK would be a better example for MY. Nevertheless, his point remains.

    The question I have is when we do we get to use Jane Galt’s 2X4 on the right?

  6. SavageView says:

    Boggles the mind that Yglesias has no concept of coalition governments.

    Boggles the mind that you think that “coalition governments” have anything to do with American governance.

  7. Young Mr. Yglesias wants a parliamentary winner take all system when his guys are in charge. When they aren’t, well, not so much.

  8. Joe R. says:

    Boggles the mind that Yglesias has no concept of coalition governments.

    Nor does he have any clue how his own was designed to function, apparently.