Monday, February 19, 2007

Andalucia....Autonomy Doesn't Excite

In another referendum yesterday to approve a reformed autonomy statute, Andalucia voted overwhelmingly in favour, almost 90% of those who voted were in favour. The downside is that the real winners of the popular vote were those who abstained, with participation in the vote reaching only 36.28%.

The outcome of the vote was hardly in doubt, which did little to lift the turnout; all of the major political parties supported the reform with the exception of the regionalist Partido Andalucista. Supporters of the reform even included the Partido Popular (PP), who have been so vocal in their opposition to the reform in Cataluña. The Andalucian PP, perhaps conditioned by years of electoral defeats in the region, decided to support a reformed statute that contains clauses which the national leadership have challenged as unconstitutional in the case of Cataluña.

With such a low turnout there are inevitable voices talking about the need to engage the electorate more in the political process. The lack of real enthusiasm is hardly surprising; the devolution of power to the regions normally causes much more excitement in the political class than it does in the population as a whole; who find little change in their lives as a result. A similar thing happens with elections to the European Parliament, whose activities seem so remote from the concerns of most people. After each successive election, there is a week in which the politicians talk about the need to involve people more in the European project; then everything returns to normal again.


Landahlauts said...

A mi modo de ver, no es tanto una falta de interés, como una especie de voto de castigo por sentirnos engañados.
Unos andaluces nos sentimos engañados porque nos han "colocado" con las autonomías de segunda. Otros se sienten engañados porque piensan que no hacía falta una reforma del Estatuto en estos momentos.
Sea como fuere, nos han quitado la cartera.

Saludos desde Andalucía.

Tom said...

I spent the weekend in Seville and was surprised not to see many posters or pamphlets arguing for the 'Sí' vote. I saw a number of stickers and posters against the Estatuto, and these bore the symbols of either far left-wing groups ("No leftist should vote yes to a Statute of the right") or the yoke and arrows of the Falange Española (a symbol I also noticed emblazoned on the ceiling of a chamber in the Reales Alcázares).

Graeme said...

Tom, maybe the lack of publicity is down to the one sided nature of the campaign? It was too much of a foregone conclusion, although as landanlauts points out there was plenty of discontent not reflected in the vote.

Charles Butler said...

I'd be a little surprised if more than six people actually gave any thought to the contents of the document. Socialist politics in Andalucía is the politics of small towns, and the residents of these places really couldn't give a shit. On the other hand, if it had explicitly stated - que será inconstitucional cobrar el paro mientras estás trabajando bajo cuerda - the reponse would have been an overwhelming "por culo" - PSOE or otherwise.

Do what you want, pero no me cortes el rollo.

There is, however, a certain amount of disatisfaction with president-for-life Manuel Chavez and his bagman Gaspar. But these are things that get settled here within the party and not in the urns.

madrid teacher said...

I like the fact that people seem to think that they can speak on behalf of the small towns in Andalucia. I visit several every few weeks and people I meet there firstly do work very very hard usually for the minimum wage doing jobs which suprise suprise in agriculture are seasonal which I would have thought means they have the RIGHT to the dole for the time they are not working.

Secondly many of the people in these villages "do give a shit" about politics whether socialist or PP.

I have heard generalisations about all the different communities, but it does get irritating when time and time again it is always the Andalucians who are called lazy and only scrounge of the state.

Oh and by the way many Andaluces I have spoken to are interested in the Statute.

Charles Butler said...

Madrid Teacher

1). We're both generalizing about Andalucian towns, so no argument there.

2). They are mostly very hard working and the mention of 'lazy' was neither made nor implied in my comment.

3). The olive harvest pays about 7€ an hour - well over the minimum wage and a figure that has risen 60% in seven years. This not to mention payments to the Seguridad Social.

4). There are two types of dole in Andalucia. One is the 'paro', which I explicitly stated I was talking about. The other is the PER, this specifically designed for agricultural workers. The former is the normal sort of unemployment insurance. The latter is a payment of about 300€ a month over six months for people that work, and are inscribed in the SS as having done so, for a minimum number of days in agriculture per year. It used to be 35, but now I don't know. That was probably what you were referring to. I'll give you a case in point of how it all works. You can surmise as to whether it is firsthand experience or not.

A crew is assembled to collect olives beginning early December. It consists of five illegal foreigners because there are not enough local hands available to do the job, there being almost no involuntary unemployment around here, and four people from town. Of these four, three ask not to be inscribed in the Seguridad Social, despite the fact that they give up the right to the PER, because they are currently being paid the paro from some prior job that they no longer hold, which they would lose if it were known that they are working. They work tremendously well, hence NO mention of laziness in the prior comment.

The PSOE knows perfectly well how it functions and thus, in election campaigns, whispers door-to-door that a PP victory would mean the end of the paro. That, of course, is a lie because what might end is the PER, although the national PP couldn't accomplish it with a majority government. But, hell, people don't distinguish, really, and stumping politicians have never been known to shed light in dark places.

5). Repeat, I never, ever said, or implied, lazy. Ever! I assure you that I know better and the 10% tip I dished out at the end of it shows I put my money where my mouth is.

6). Many may have been interested in the estatuto, but 28% showed up to vote. "Talk the talk, walk the walk", says Ibex Salad.


madrid teacher said...

Hi CB ,

Yes I take back the lazy comment.

With regards to the paro and other payments, yes it is a problem when they are open to abuse, but pork barrelling and corrpution seems endemic in Spain and this is the issue which must be dealt with. What is sauce for the goose and all that!!!

Election turnout - as the son a a british "liberal" politician I have first hand knowledge of the decline in political participation in the UK and I am not suprized by the low turnout in the votes, however this does not necessarily imply a rejection by the majority. I personally believe that there has been a privatisation of politics and people generally only participate when they feel directly affected ( I don´t like this however) and non-participation may imply contentment or agreement.

The point I was trying to make is that my experience of Andalucia is of hardworking and very caring people who are interested in politics in general terms not just what they can get out of it. I know that you are based in Andalucia and do have more daily face to face experience than I do and, due to the nature of my job (economics) I do seem to be surrounded by metropolitan PP supporters who find attacking (or scapegoating Andalucia much easier than trying to look at some of the more serious problems facing Spain so I am always a bit touchy on Andalucian issues.


Charles Butler said...

Thanks for responding, Steve,

The Junta has created a serious dependency among the citizenry on their largesse. They will never lose an election because everybody in the towns knows what side their bread is buttered on - so it's basically and consciously bribery. The second advantage is that Andalucía continues to be able to claim disadvantaged status and collect from the EU because the official economic figures are a good 30% below the real. Jaén province presumably has an unemployment rate of 14%.(!) I assure it is not true. If it were, we wouldn't see thousands of Senegalese, Morrocans and Romanians finding work in the harvest - with or without papers. And remember, that takes place at the weakest point in the yearly employment cycle.

I can go on at great length about all this (as you can imagine). I won't, but if I were being taxed at source at my job in Madrid, I'd also be really pissed off (as governments generally are in central Europe) at having to support the Junta's ponzi scheme.