It is this blog’s pleasure to offer an excerpt (and link to full text) of one of the best articles on the Spanish political crass ever written by a human bean. It is clear, structured, hard-hitting and fragrant with the sweet aroma of truth… although the topic stinks of corruption, treason, arrogance, theft and all the sub-human aspects of the “extractive elite”, or what Matt Taibbi calls “the vampire squid”.
This article –the most read piece in the national newspaper El País in 2012– is a chapter from the upcoming book by César Molinas, a frood who has crossed every tee and dotted every eye in building his theory of why the Spanish politico crass are –in strict legal terms– a bunch of corrupt mtherfckers that prefer to screw their fellow countrymen than lose the privilege of living large on OPM.
Few times has the issue of the ingrained corruption of the matrix been so well described and explained. Reading his text is a breath of fresh air in the putrid atmosphere of corporate toxic waste spewed forth by lamestream whores that are too stupid to realize the system they defend is inimical to their interests. Needless to say, the conclusions regarding extractive elites is applicable to the global elite and their state minions.
El País, despite its lamestreamness, has had the decency to recognize the importance of this article and offers it translated in English on its website. Thus, without further adon’t, you are invited to enjoy this fantastic piece of work and restore your faith in human beanity. They can fool the fools all the time, but they can’t fool all the beans sometimes. Selah!
Theory of Spain’s political class
In 2013, César Molinas will publish ¿Qué hacer con España? (or, What to do with Spain?). This text is an excerpt from one of the chapters, in which he analyzes some of the causes at the root of the country’s current problems.
In this article I propose a theory of Spain’s political class to make a case for the urgent, imperious need to change our voting system and adopt a majority system. A good theory of Spain’s political class should at least explain the following issues:
1. How is it possible that five years after the crisis began, no political party has a coherent diagnosis of what is going on in Spain?
2. How is it possible that no political party has a credible long-term plan or strategy to pull Spain out of the crisis? How is it possible that Spain’s political class seems genetically incapable of planning?
3. How is it possible that Spain’s political class is incapable of setting an example? How is it possible that nobody – except the king and for personal motives at that – has ever apologized for anything?
4. How is it possible the most obvious strategy for a better future – improving education, encouraging innovation, development and entrepreneurship, and supporting research – is not just being ignored, but downright massacred with spending cuts by the majority parties?
In the following lines I posit that over the last few decades, Spain’s political class has developed its own particular interest above the general interest of the nation, which it sustains through a system of rent-seeking. In this sense it is an extractive elite, to use the term popularized by Acemoglu and Robinson. Spanish politicians are the main culprits of the real estate bubble, of the savings banks collapse, of the renewable energy bubble and of the unnecessary infrastructure bubble. These processes have put Spain in the position of requiring European bailouts, a move which our political class has resisted to the bitter end because it forces them to implement reforms that erode their own particular sphere of interest. A legal reform that enforced a majority voting system would make elected officials accountable to their voters instead of to their party leaders; it would mark a very positive turn for Spanish democracy and it would make the structural reforms easier.
The politicians who participated in the transition process from Franco’s regime to democracy came from very diverse backgrounds: some had worked for Franco, others had been in exile and yet others were part of the illegal opposition within national borders. They had neither a collective spirit nor a particular group interest. These individuals made two major decisions that shaped the political class that followed them. The first was to adopt a proportional representation voting system with closed, blocked lists. The goal was to consolidate the party system by strengthening the internal power of their leaders, which sounded reasonable in a fledgling democracy. The second decision was to strongly decentralize the state with many devolved powers for regional governments. The evident dangers of excessive decentralization were to be conjured by the cohesive role of the great national parties and their strong leaderships. It seemed like a sensible plan.
But four imponderables resulted in the young Spanish democracy acquiring a professional political class that quickly grew dysfunctional and monstrous. The first was the proportional system with its closed lists. For a long time now, members of party youth groups get themselves on the voting lists on the sole merit of loyalty to their leaders. This system has turned parties into closed rooms full of people where nobody dares open the windows despite the stifling atmosphere. The air does not flow, ideas do not flow, and almost nobody in the room has personal direct knowledge of civil society or the real economy. Politics has become a way of life that alternates official positions with arbitrarily awarded jobs at corporations, foundations and public agencies, as well as sinecures at private regulated companies that depend on the government to prosper.
Secondly, the decentralization of the state, which began in the early 1980s, went much further than was imaginable when the Constitution was approved. As Enric Juliana notes in his recent book Modesta España (or, Modest Spain), the controlled top-down decentralization was quicky overtaken by a bottom-up movement led by local elites to the cry of “We want no less!” As a result, there emerged 17 regional governments, 17 regional parliaments and literally thousands of new regional companies and agencies whose ultimate goal in many cases was simply to extend paychecks and bonuses. In the absence of established procedures for selecting staff, politicians simply appointed friends and relatives, which led to a politicized patronage system. The new political class had created a rent-seeking system – that is to say, a system that does not create new wealth but appropriates existing wealth – whose sewers were a channel for party financing.
Thirdly, political parties’ internal power was decentralized even faster than the public administration. The notion that the Spain of the Regions could be managed by the two majority parties (the conservative Popular Party and the Socialists) fell apart when the regional “barons” accumulated power and, like the Earl of Warwick, became kingmakers within their own parties. This accelerated the decentralization and loss of control over the regional savings banks. Regional governments quickly passed laws to take over the cajas de ahorros, then filled the boards with politicians, unionists, friends and cronies. Under their leadership, the savings banks financed or created yet more businesses, agencies and affiliated foundations with no clear goal other than to provide yet more jobs for people with the right connections.
Additionally, Spain’s political class has colonized areas that are not the preserve of politics, such as the Constitutional Court, the General Council of the Judiciary (the legal watchdog), the Bank of Spain and the CNMV (the market watchdog). Their politicized nature has strangled their independence and deeply delegitimized them, severely deteriorating our political system. But there’s more. While it invaded new terrain, the Spanish political class abandoned its natural environment: parliament. Congress is not just the place where laws are made; it is also the institution that must demand accountability. This essential role completely disappeared in Spain many years ago. The downfall of Bankia, played out grotesquely in last July’s parliamentary appearances, is just the latest in a long series of cases that Congress has decided to treat as though they were natural disasters, like an earthquake, which has victims but no culprits.
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