Democratic Turbulence and Splinters in the Eyes of Others
Spain is facing an unprecedented situation, as its traditional two political parties – The Popular Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE) – have been joined by two others: United We Can (Unidos Podemos), on the left, and Ciudadanos (Citizens), leaning to the right.
For some devotees of the single-party system, like one commentator on Cuban television, this is a development revealing an insurmountable weakness of the democratic system, and one that says a lot against it. As the number of parties on the political stage grows, and the voters' preferences are, as a result, further divided, society is fragmented, not into two main parties holding irreconcilable positions, but into four, in this case, that are unable to form an alliance to elect the head of the Government.
The problem is not that there are too many political parties. In fact, this situation actually more accurately reflects the true political spectrum of a country – as opposed to the lie of a false national unity that conceals conspiracies, cunning maneuverings and censorship, and the danger of the emergence of unifying strongmen and autocrats, so dear to the Left.
This process that Spaniards are going through can only result in an enhanced democracy, in which the president might not have to head a party with an absolute majority in the Congress of Deputies. Though such majorities do facilitate governability, when the party is not forced to reach agreements with the other(s) to pass laws (Democratic President vs. a Republican Senate/Congress), the government can become the personal fiefdom of a political organization that controls two of its three branches.
In Peru, for example, one of the fears of many citizens in the last election was that, with a pro-Fujimori parliament, headed by a Fujimori, the chief executive was going to be another member of the clan, and the temptation to run the country like a family business would be too strong.
For this and other reasons not worth going into here, the extreme Left actually preferred to support none other than Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a staunch free-marketer. Democracy is in better hands when more parties are involved in the political apparatus.
I do not doubt the Spaniards' wisdom, their love for the political system that they have developed, or that they will reach an agreement. What they will not agree to is returning to the dark days of the dictatorship; even less today, when they have discovered that there don´t have to be just two parties representing them.
There will now be four major parties, along with a handful of smaller groups that will also play a role. Every deputy has a voice, and it could happen that one of the many, from the least-known party, presents a motion that benefits his constituents, or others who did not even elect him.
The best thing about democracy is precisely what the Communists see as a flaw: its diversity, its conflicts. Someone once said that democracy is a discussion, and when a society does not have discussions and disagreements, that society is sick.
Hypocrisy, self-censorship, slavish obedience and a lack of criteria applied to arguments are manifestations of a sick society. The fragmentation of a parliament into ten parties is preferable to its castration and subjugation to the executive.
Spain is healthy, politically speaking. It has entered a new stage in its democratic evolution, and this is not a final or definitive crisis, by any means, as alleged by some analysts here on Cuban television, with their pithy political and economic commentary on anywhere in the world – except their own country.
The disfunctionality alleged by the commentator exists only in what he was ordered to say. There is no more obvious example of disfunctionality than that of the sole party that has been governing Cuba for almost 60 years, with the enthusiastic support of its political police and the servile attitudes of its followers.
The Cuban media ought to take a look around and inwards rather than indulging in pretentious comments that do not benefit the country and only seek to confuse a public that is already sorely uninformed. The exercise of journalism is just one of the dysfunctions that we suffer, within what is a disfunctional system.