Friday, April 04, 2008

Let's Get Together And Form A Group

Two of the parties that suffered particularly badly in Spain’s general elections managed to find a solution this week for at least some of the consequences of their bad election result. Izquierda Unida (IU) and Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña (ERC) were set to be deprived of the entitlement to form their own parliamentary groups as a result of not meeting the requirements for having a separate group; 5 parliamentary seats and 5% of the vote in the areas where they stand. All parties that don’t reach this base are doomed to form part of the Grupo Mixto. The consequences of this can be relatively serious in terms of parliamentary time as the Grupo Mixto has to divide its assignation between all the parties that form it. This results in the profile of each party being much lower as they have to wait for their turn to present initiatives or question ministers. Even more serious is the financial impact as each separate parliamentary group receives generous financial support for its activities.

The prospect of the loss of their respective groups forced IU and ERC into discussions about forming one together. They reached the minimum number of members of parliament but fell just 0.03% short of the percentage of vote needed to comply with regulations. Sometimes this doesn’t matter as the regulations can be applied with a certain degree of flexibility. However, this time the solution found was to invite the Galician Nationalists of the BNG to add their small percentage to the total and thus meet all the requirements. Now the Galicians have no intention of remaining in the new grouping, as soon as it has been formed they will return to the Grupo Mixto; but they will take with them a share of the parliamentary subsidy of the group they have helped to form. Confusing, but everyone is happy.

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