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Podemos and Ciudadanos work on 'fairer' electoral reform
A SURPRISE agreement between Podemos and Ciudadanos has seen both parties working together on an electoral reform to guarantee fairness across the board.
Left-wing Podemos, lead by Pablo Iglesias and centre-right Ciudadanos, headed up by Albert Rivera, have always refused to work together, costing both of them a coalition government with socialist leader Pedro Sánchez in 2016 as Spain's second-largest political force was unable to make up the numbers for a majority unless both Ciudadanos and Podemos were willing to get on board.
But Rivera and Iglesias are both singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of the election reform they both want to see come into effect.
Rivera complains that for each seat gained in Parliament, Ciudadanos needs 100,000 votes, but the right-wing PP – currently in power – only needs 57,000 votes.
As a result, Ciudadanos could have the same number of voters, or more, than the PP, but have half the representation in government.
And pro-animal party PACMA gained the same number of votes in the last elections as the Basque National Party (PNV), but has no representation, whilst the PNV has five seats.
Podemos wants a new and fairer formula for distributing Parliamentary seats, and for the minimum voting age to be reduced to 16, rather than the current 18.
Iglesias' team wants electoral propaganda for all parties to be sent out at once in the same mailing, for televised debates to be compulsory for all candidates.
And instead of the current D'Hondt system of allocating Parliamentary seats – which is also used in the UK and penalises smaller parties – Podemos wants to adopt the Saint-Lagüe model used in Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
Employing the Saint-Lagüe system would mean the PP's losing 15 seats and ending on 122, whilst the socialists, or PSOE, would only lose one, falling from 85 to 84.
Ciudadanos would gain the most from the Saint-Lagüe model, soaring from 32 seats to 44, whilst Podemos' current 45 would rocket to 51.
The D'Hondt model means the PP has 39.1% of Parliamentary seats but only 33% of the votes.
Ciudadanos and Podemos are united on every aspect of the election reform they have discussed, although not unanimous on dropping voting age to 16, something Ciudadanos has, however, agreed to 'look into'.
But to allow the reform to go through this year as they hope, they will need to convince the PSOE.
And the PSOE says it would not be fair for it to back the new law and allow it to go through unless all four main parties were in favour, including the PP – which appears unlikely, as the latter would suffer the most from a fairer votes-to-seats ratio.
“Let's be realistic, the rules of the game are chronically unfair and should be changed,” said Podemos' Parliamentary spokeswoman Irene Montero, pictured above with her Ciudadanos counterpart Juan Carlos Girauta.
Deputy secretary-general of the PSOE Adriana Lastra said her party had 'always' advocated the need for 'better proportionality' in Parliamentary seat allocation, but that 'when talking about the rules of the game', this was 'not something that should be decided by two or three political forces' without taking the views of all other parties into account.
“It's an institutional architecture, so we can't leave it up to a Parliamentary majority which changes every three or four years,” Lastra argues.
“If anyone is aiming for this just to be an auctioning off of Parliamentary seats, then they won't be able to count on the PSOE for support.”
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