Introduction To The Kingdom Of Spain Politics Essay

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1st Jan 1970 Politics Reference this

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Spain officially known as The Kingdom of Spain, it is an independent government and affiliate of European Union. Spain is situated in the south west of Europe on the Peninsula Iberian. Madrid, the capital, is the largest city of Spain with over three million people of the population. The official language is Spanish known as Castellan, but there are recognized regional languages as Catalan-Valencian, Basque, Galician and Occitan that belongs to autonomous comminutes. Their government is Unitary Regional State Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy, which as of today we find names like The King Juan Carlos I de Borbon, and the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. If we look back to the governance of 1978, the Spanish Constitution was the termination of the Spanish transition to democracy, moved by the democratic political reform in 1976 and 1977, the new Spain’s King Juan Carlos, well known and remembered for his conduct and temperament named a new prime minister and dismissed the one that was there. The new election organized the purpose of drafting and approving a new constitution in 1978. Education is free for Spain from the age of six to sixteen, and the religion is the Roman Catholicism which is considered the principal religion of Spain. Spain is also very well known for their architecture, music and dance, not even considering their cuisine and valuable representative’s idols in different sports.

The politics of Spain is basically established by the constitution of 1978, which says Spain as an autonomous government, where the people have to elect the Prime Minister for the power of the country. The political form of the Government of Spain is parliamentary monarchy, according to the Spanish Constitution, Tribunal Constitucional de Espana (1978), “is a social representative, democratic, constitutional monarchy in which the Monarch is the head of state and the Prime Minister, whose official title is President of the Government, is the head of government.”(Article 98).

The political system as parliamentary monarchy means a form of an existing government in the current western democracies, especially in Europe, in which the king execute the function of the head of a state under the control of the legislative power (Parliament which are elected members of the state for some period) and of the executive power (Government). The norms and decisions established of the Parliament control not only the procedure or operation of the state, but also the action and functions of their own king.

It divides in three different powers of government:

Legislative power devises and modifies the existing laws according to the opinion of the citizens. Another function is the approval of the laws and usually, it is on charge of the congress or a parliament, which are composed by representatives elected by the town that has been attributed the main assignment to express the determination or will of them.

Executive power dependable in causing to comply the laws and that is used to exercising the government or the own leader of the State. It is responsible for the daily management of the State. The executive power consider and executes general politics according to which the laws have to be applied, represents to the Nation in its diplomatic relations, maintains close the Armed Forces and from time to time advises to the legislation. The President is the visible image and figure and the most important power.

Spanish Constitution, Tribunal Constitucional de Espana (1978) “The judiciary power is independent of the executive and the legislature, administering justice on behalf of the King by several judges and magistrates. It is the responsible for administering the justice in the company or state, by means of the application of the legal norms” (Article 99)

Political Ideology

Like any other country which has their own government we will find political ideologies. According to Roskin et al.(2009) states that ideologies are “often based on theories but simplified and popularized to sell to mass audiences, build political movements, and win elections. Ideologies might be called cheap theories” (p.39).

Spain has several multi-party systems at both regional and the national level. Nationally it covers only two that are the most popular political dominant parties, which are PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol) that is the left-leaning, and the right-wing PP (Partido Popular). On these days the political dominant party is the one that governs in the present. The regional parties can be strong in autonomous communities like Catalonia and the Basque Country due to several conflicts between these two that have been creating national government coalitions.

The ideology of PSOE is social democracy and social democracy is “a political ideology that considers itself to be a form of reformist democratic socialism. Social democracy rejects the either or polarization interpretation of capitalism versus socialism” (Busky, 2008, p. 8; Harrington, 1989, p. 93). This means their belief it consist to be a force social democracy that supports the economy and gives benefits to the population, like unemployment, food stamps, low cost insurance and in some cases totally free.

Figure .Political Parties in CongressAccording to researcher Steger (1997), “Social democracy in its current form was originally developed by revisionist Marxist Eduard Bernstein who opposed orthodox Marxism’s support of revolution and class conflict, claiming that socialism could be achieved through evolutionary means via representative democracy and cooperation between people regardless of class” (p. 146). This means this party also means that they can improve the social conditions of the populations by reducing the benefits of the business, making the working class get all credit than the business.

The ideology of PP (Partido Popular) “is the conservative political party in Spain” (Nordsieck, 2011, Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe). This party was a refoundation in 1989 of the People’s Alliance (Alianza Popular) and it was combined with small Christian democratic and liberal parties. The PP was until November 2011 the largest opposition party in the Congress of Deputies, with one hundred fifty three out of three hundred and fifty deputies, and the largest party represented in the Senate, with one hundred and one out of two hundred and eight senators. Their ideology is central and right, which means that they need to promote the total liberty for business and the state, cannot be involved in the economy.

Electoral System

Spain uses a majority system (more than half), which in article 68 from the Constitution in the electoral law of 1977 (restructured in 1985) is based on the proportional representation system, that according to Roskin, Cord, Medeiros, and Jones, (2009) states that proportional representation system “elects representative by party’s percent of vote, which means each district sends several representatives to parliament, not just one” (pag. 70). The minimum of deputies must be three hundred and the maximum four hundred members of the parliament that are elected by free, direct, equal, and secret vote for a four year period, it must obtain a minimum of three percent of the vote in order to qualify for parliamentary representation.

The voting system used is that of proportional representation with closed party lists, that mean voters can only vote for political parties as an entire party and they have to decide who ever gets the highest positions is tend to get a sit in the parliament. Following D’Hondt method “a mathematical formula which slightly over represents the larger parties at the expense of the smaller ones” (Roskin, Cord, Medeiros, and Jones, 2009, p. 71) in every providence of Spain the electoral vote or suffrage must be assigned by a minimum of two deputies per providence, this includes the autonomous cities (out of Iberian Peninsula) of Ceuta and Melilla, each of these two has to assigned only one deputy.

Legislation can be opened by the Congress of Deputies and they are assigned to approve or refuse the laws adopted by the executive government. They also have the power to elect, the prime minister or the President of the Government. The prime minister can be removed from his duties due to a vote of confidence from the elected parliament, and then it needs to be substituted.

Election system also helps to major political parties because not only provinces wit small populations are over-represented. Spain has two party systems that smaller and regional parties posses small representation, due to difference in population between providences, when the provinces are totally represented, the deputies is small comparing to one or two major parties, even if other smaller parties managed to obtain more than three percent of the votes.

The three percent to get in the Congress is unsuccessful in many provinces, where the number of seats per constituency has a lower average that the actual deputies to be inside the Congress is effectively higher, for example, the actual number for the provinces having three seats is twenty five percent, much higher than three percent, however, in provinces such as Barcelona and Madrid, while the number of seats is much higher, the three percent to get it the Congress is still helpful to get rid of the smallest parties.

Government intervention in the Economy

After Dictator Franco’s death, Spain passed a change to democracy in the middle of 1970s, even though a quickly procedure of modernization happened, the Spanish welfare state was seen until now, that has been relative turned out week. There is a list of the main problems this consequences has left is that the attention has turned to be a governance issue, the interplay among levels of government, the welfare mix and public support for social policies. Another issue tell about the five most important challenges the Spanish faces with welfare state in the present century is the purpose to have a better life, to achieve a better work family balance, to organize migratory policies with existing social defense, to attempt the resolution of high rates of poverty, and to face intense population growing, both in terms of increasing needs for care and the modification of the pension system. Social welfare benefits little by little have grown. Spain gives generous retirement remuneration and strong unemployment benefits; as per now it offers no “welfare” benefits.

Political Culture

The political culture is about the perception and the interpretation of the norms and values that each society implements to the people. The political system plays a role really important because of the ideas might be implementing how to work with the government and what they can do. “The political culture is the symbols, values, and beliefs about the political system which is determinate by the history, economy, religion, and folkways.” (Roskin et al., 2009, p. 119) It is related to the memory of what the nation have done previously, like in the last decades Spanish society and politics contributed the incapacity to maintain a firm and secure government very independent prior 1970. People believe and think the transformation of the democracy was possible by the socioeconomic modernization, the decisions, and the cultural change from political elites of democratic institutions and the conduct from some parties involved in the benefits to Spain. Unfortunately Spain does not have a good background in history, an excellent example which can be seen today with the autonomous communities, such as Catalonia and Basque country, that both are looking for independence, being away from Spain, creating regionalism and issues between all communities.

Many questions fly around about the way of how the government and the politician need to act different or at least try to be similar and competitive with the neighbors’ governments. Perhaps the introduction of Spain to be inside the Europe Union have created in the meanwhile, that the present crisis should bring some common sense agreement to have a better workability in the political culture of Spain.

Public Opinion

The Spanish society is having many difficult times due to the current crisis; there is dissatisfaction with the social management carried out by the government. The rate of unemployment is one of the main reasons resulting in various popular events such as the irritated people and this is added to the labor reform that get problems to the labor rights of the Spanish workers. Another reason is cutting the health and education sectors and the raise taxes to reduce the Spanish deficit.

The twenty seven thousand three hundred million of Euros in reduction in public spending joined a week later, a cut of ten thousand million in health and education. The eighty three percent of the budget reduction corresponds to the direct public spending, most in sensitive areas of social policy. These cuts will be punished more severely to the low-income women, young people, and the immigrant population. The difference between the efforts to increase the collection and the measures of mark get a tendency as regards social rights. According to the latest survey from Gaby Oré Aguilar (2012) states that “the living conditions of the year 2011, in Spain, twenty two percent of households live below the poverty line. The poverty rate rose by more than two percentage points between 2009 to 2011” (p.4). At the end of last year, five hundred thousand homes in Spain received no income for job, or unemployment benefits or social security; which means they were in extreme poverty.

Religion in Spain

The largest religion is known as Roman Catholicism which is led by the Pope. According to a study by the Sociological Research Spanish Center (2011) testify that “about seventy percent of Spanish self-identify as Catholics, three percent as other faith, and about twenty five percent identify with no religion” (p.13). Most Spanish, especially the younger generations try to avoid the religion differences compared to sexuality, morals, and politics. Spanish also consider the religion as part of the three most important values.

Spain has also gone thru with the legalization of the gay marriage, actually there is a seventy percent of Spanish that support their marriage. (Study by the Centre of Sociological Research, 2004). This case was along from a split vote from the conservative liberal lines with the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party and the other left party supporting while People’s Party is against it.

Spain also during the immigration process and the introduce of new cultures in the population, especially during and after the 1990s, have them led to an increment number of Muslims (God as related to prophet Muhammad) and have about one million of members. Along with the introduction of new religion as part of the immigration, people from Latin America which are known as strong Catholic practitioners have helped the Catholic Church to maintain part of the assistance for those who go to church on Sundays.

In the last decade, political issues and the enrollment of the Catholic Church has increased again, especially for groups such as Opus Dei, Legion of Christ (Catholic Church Institution) with the participation of important politicians in the right-wing such as Popular Party. Opus Dei is an organization that their mission is to get closer to God, to serve the most needed it and to improve society. In more recent times, some members of the Opus Dei were chosen ministers by the then leader of that party, in any case, since the institutional point of view, the Opus Dei does not have an official political position, there is few worries that many of their members are politically conservatories just like the common of the Spanish Catholics. The members of the Opus Dei remind that the institution has a spiritual principle and that each member takes their professional responsibilities in the politics or the business without doing participants of them to the others member and even less to the institution. They said that the Opus Dei could have the political position they wanted, as long as they did not go in disagreement with the catholic principle.

The church is not the independent and neutral institution in political affairs, and everything is related with the opinion of the Popular Party which it gain consequences that the new disapproval from important sections on the population, especially the biggest part of the left party that has the opposition against the church and the way in which it is economically sustained.

Political Communication

The mass media have always shown opinion in the civilization in politics. Political communication is the opening of how a government can be criticizes by public opinion like radio, newspaper, news channels, not even nationality, worldwide too. In these days, the audiovisual media market has positioned traditional print media, which means the press uses pictures and color to write or edit the news into television or journals. After Spain became democracy, the mass media practiced an increase to inform the civilization especially by newspapers. In these days most popular medias have gone online.

The historic and significant newspapers in the past, such as La Vanguardia, ABC, El pais, and El mundo were part of the important media companies. According to Holtby (1990), he stated “the reputation and expansion of these journalists were written by some of the most well-known writers of the Spanish language, from Spain and Latin America such as Miguel Delibes, Gabriel García Márquez. Jose Camilo Cela, and Carlos Fuentes” (p.336-338).

Radio had a big impact on the Spanish communication. Taking into consideration to the Civil War, the radio was the principal tool of government propaganda, after that war the Franco’s forces detained republican distribution stations. During Franco’s period, coverage for all news national and international was official managed by Radio Nacional de Espana. The difference from the print media, radio did not apply a practice of liberalization, and after some restrictions it was finally eased. According to Gunter, Richard and Jose Ramon Montero (1999) “the most important radio networks in Spain are RNE, Sociedad Espanola de Radio Difusion (SER), Cadena de Ondas Populares (COPE) and Onda Cero with a highest audience” (P.176). In the same way as the other print media and televisions, radio has established a very important role in the culture and the identity of the autonomous communities like Basque Radio, Galician Radio, and Catalonia Country.

It is estimated that over ninety percent of the population watches television. In terms of audience size, TVE1 and Antena 3 have the greatest numbers of viewers. Spanish television has developed from a state owned institution, which it represents the views of the government and was seriously covered up to one that tends the views of particular regions, a more European viewpoint, and the demands of the public in general. Most of the Spanish people receive the news from television and not from the print media.

Online newspapers in Spain are a new experience, and they report for 17 percent of the distribution of web traffic. It started with the new technology that media in Spain has been implementing during this years as online publications. Most of newspapers started implementing their information online since 1994.

Interest Groups

It is related to the influence of groups against the government that might be permanent or momentary. The term of interest group covers just about “any collection of people trying to influence the government, some interest groups work through the executive or administrative agencies, others through the judicial or legislative sectors” (Roskin et al., 2009, p. 177).

Some of them are concentrated to influence the political parties and the other on just particular changes such the private interest. In Spain most of these groups work together to persuade the government and become powerful. Sometimes interest groups participate in government; Catholic Church has participated in the Spanish Constitution which advice the liberty or freedom as well as the Church and State keeps away from each other, but also indicates that the public powers will keep in mind the religious beliefs and they will maintain the consequent relations of cooperation with the Catholic Church. (Article 16 of Spanish Constitution, 1978).

The Catholic Church is excused to pay income taxes like the nonprofit companies and they were not able to pay taxes on some religious cultures or objects. Same thing happens for the conservation of the building that are considered cultural patrimony, which it is financed by the State and foe other public funds too. It is mandatory that primary and secondary schools offer in their academic program the class of religion, even though the students can choose to study a different alternative class.

Chambers of commerce is a form of business network that their activity is to get together group of business people to recognize, create, or to prepare business opportunities. They are also considered as a interest groups due to their activity could create a public model to the sectors of the government because it is common in the European Union countries such as Germany, Italy, France, and also in Japan. The principal assignment of the chambers is trade promotion, vocational training, regional economic development, and general services to their members. It shows the possibility of a business individual to make innovative business associations and produce business opportunities at the same time. In Spain, the government could give the chance to some chambers to take responsibilities of public administrations in many fields, they also have a consultative or counseling occupation; this mean any chamber selected can ask for consulting ideas whenever a new law is related to the industry or commerce. (Markus Pilgrim, Ralf Meier, 2011).

ETA, a short form for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, which means “Basque Homeland and Freedom” is an armed organizations that looks Euskadi’s independency. The general idea they have with the government is that they achieve attacks like murders, abductions, car bombs, and more to all politicians or public images in the media. Once they create a terrorist environment it starts a “high to the fire” which means they need to stop using the violence and it will create a negotiation between them and the Spanish government to accomplish their objectives.

Elections

The electoral elections are carry out every 4 years, but sometimes it could be an agreement that some elections would be anticipated, this mean when the 4 year period it is not finalized. The requirement to vote is to have the Spanish nationality and to be legal age that is more than eighteen years old. The citizens must register in the electoral census to justify the people who vote is legally to do it. Votes are not mandatory for everybody, if you need to suffrage will be voluntary option.

Electoral System

TOTAL

Distribution by sex and age

Mujeres

Varones

Total

18,425,558

17,353,650

18 y 19

415507

438199

20 a 24

1081611

1138787

25 a 29

1246020

1300810

30 a 34

1585694

1641364

35 a 39

1751932

1797645

40 a 44

1712713

1738868

45 a 49

1686745

1687206

50 a 54

1553738

1532467

55 a 59

1335212

1299323

60 a 64

1246803

1181847

65 a 69

1140308

1035747

70 a 74

940110

794987

75 a 79

1035415

792292

80 a 84

843411

558985

85 y más

850339

415123

Figure 2. Electoral System (Statistic National Institute)

In the last elections, citizens have voted the sixty nine percent of total population, which means it has descended a seven percent with respect to the past general elections. From the total of twenty four million six hundred sixty six thousand and thirty ninety two votes, it has been that make it count.

Political Party System

Political parties connect the people thru the government. In these days Spain has several multi-party systems at both regional and the national level. Nationally it covers only two that are the most popular political dominant parties, which are Spanish Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol) is the left-leaning, and Popular Party which leads the right-wing that describes as conservative on social questions and free market. The Popular Party is the current dominant party that represents Spain.

The Spanish Socialist Party was created for the intention to represent and to protect the benefits and interests of the hard-working class of the industrial revolution in the nineteen century in the beginning of the democracy. In the other hand the Popular Party is the conservative political party of Spain founded in 1989, it is known as “central reformist”, they need to promote the total liberty for business and the state, cannot be involved in the economy.

The Popular Party, recent winner of the past elections in November 2011, has plain majority in the Congress of the Representatives and Senate and governs in eleven autonomous regions (Paddy Woodworth, 2011). As all political parties it uses a “imputing” devices that allows citizens to get their needs by the government. If society votes it gives the chance to participate in political decisions. Popular Party and Spanish Socialist Party signed in 2000 the called agreement by the liberties against the terrorism, which voided the relationships related to the terrorism of the political debate among both parties by interest aggregation.

Spain currently is a country decentralized that has recognized the territorial order of the power around the state has been called autonomous; this means the government offer total liberty to the autonomous communities to government by their own. After Franco’s death and with the intervention of the King Juan Carlos I in the beginning of the Headquarters, a new political period was opened that was consolidated with the victory of the Law for the Political Reform. During the campaign all parties coordinated the elaboration of the new constitution and the establishment for the autonomy for each region. The coherence of all parties involved in the democracies will execute as they agreed, if they become elected.

The Popular Party is financially support by three different aspects; first they get money from subsidies institutions for political parties, quotes and anonymous donations of participants or followers supporters, and bank credits. According to the report of the Court of Accounts of the 2003, “the Popular Party had a debt of 8 million euros, being the political party with group in the Congress in owing less money” (Pedro Ramirez, 2007). Now most the money they received are constituted in donations from anonymous contributions.

Spain’s Party System is majority (more than half), which in article 68 from the Constitution in the electoral law of 1977 is based on the proportional representation system, which means each district sends several representatives to parliament, not just one.

Government and the Economy

In other terms each country has relationships between the government and the economy, in this particularly case political economy study the distribution to sell and buy goods, the production that declares thru customs of what is coming in and out. To see how the production of Spain is we must identify their GDP which is a equivalent of the production of goods and services in a country over a year. Below I will show you the record of Spain’s GDP over last twelve years:

Years

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

GDP

5.0

3.7

2.7

3.1

3.3

3.6

4.1

3.5

0.9

-3.7

-0.1

0.7

-1.0*

Figure 3. Real GDP growth rate volume

We can see how the GDP was maintained firm from the two thousand to the two thousand and seven, with the higher point in two thousand year with almost five percent. After that GDP falls to one percent of the total value produced in two thousand eight to two thousand nine passing from one percent to three percent negative due to the crisis and that it is called recession. The following years it still being negative with a little improvement in two thousand and eleven but went down this year as today.

As we saw in two thousand and eleven the development of GDP was superior, this happened due to the value of that year has been so low because the families consume less as a result of the few incomes that they have, in addition businesses invest little regarding the low financial procedure. As of today the internal demand do not let them increase as some families do not spend or buy goods, this lead the business are not producing as before for the recent crisis Spain has been going thru, and it is hard to obtain a loan to be able to carry the production. Banks are not giving credit loans and the labor class has been inactive as construction stop while ago when it was the well maintain before.

Inflation is the increment on prices of goods and services with related to the money maintained in a specific time period.

Figure 3. Real GDP growth rate volume

Principally inflation happens because there has been little incomes, and the tax has been lower without excluding the expenses up to now that there are many ways to help to keep the situation stable by the crisis. A good example is government rise the taxes to collect more money, increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

Political Violence

Political violence means groups of people trying to intimidate the government to achieve political goals. These groups of violence people will try to get the government attention if they will not respond to their political demands. Violence could be considered as violation of human rights, war, police brutality, kidnapping, torture, terrorism, revolution, dictatorship, etc.

Spain has many horror stories in their history; the most catastrophic attacked was in Madrid in two thousand and four. They were victims of terrorist attached produced by Al-qaeda with the explosion of bombs inside the trains. One hundred ninety one people passed away and one thousand eight hundred fifty eight got injured.

At the beginning of the seventy’s, Spain had a modern economy but a political system based on the dictatorship which was not democracy as well all the European countries. Franco named General Carrero Blanco to stay in command of the government but after six months he was murdered by ETA. In November of nineteen seventy five, the General Franco died and the constitution was changed when King Juan Carlos Borbon was named king of Spain. Just then he began the transition of the dictatorship to the democracy.

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