Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eva Belén Abad Quijada, Spain, 30 years old

Óscar Abril Alegre, Spain, 19 years old

Liliana Guillermina Acero Ushiña, Ecuador, 26 years old

Florencio Aguado Rojano, Spain, 60 years old

Juan Alberto Alonso Rodríguez, Spain, 38 years old

María Joséfa Alvarez González, Spain, 48 years old

Juan Carlos Del Amo Aguado, Spain, 28 years old

Andriyan Asenov Andrianov, Bulgaria, 22 years old

María Nuria Aparicio Somolinos, Spain, 40 years old

Alberto Arenas Barroso, Spain, 24 years old

Neil Hebe Astocondor Masgo, Peru, 34 years old

Ana Isabel Avila Jiménez, Spain, 43 years old

Miguel Ángel Badajoz Cano, Spain, 34 years old

Susana Ballesteros Ibarra, Spain, 42 years old

Francisco Javier Barahona Imedio, Spain, 34 years old

Gonzalo Barajas Díaz, Spain, 32 years old

Gloria Inés Bedoya, Colombia, 40 years old

Sanaa Ben Salah Imadaquan, Spain, 13 years old

Esteban Martín De Benito Caboblanco, Spain, 39 years old

Rodolfo Benito Samaniego, Spain, 27 years old

Anka Valeria Bodea, Romania, 26 years old

Livia Bogdan, Romania, 27 years old

Florencio Brasero Murga, Spain, 50 years old

Trinidad Bravo Segovia, Spain, 40 years old

Alina Maria Bryk, Poland, 39 years old

Stefan Budai, Romania, 37 years old

Tibor Budi, Romania, 37 years old

María Pilar Cabrejas Burillo, Spain, 37 years old

Rodrigo Cabrero Pérez, Spain, 20 years old

Milagros Calvo García, Spain, 39 years old

Sonia Cano Campos, Spain, 24 years old

Alicia Cano Martínez, Spain, 63 years old

José María Carrilero Baeza, Spain, 39 years old

Álvaro Carrion Franco, Spain, 17 years old

Francisco Javier Casas Torresano, Spain, 28 years old

Cipriano Castillo Muñoz, Spain, 55 years old

María Inmaculada Castillo Sevillano, Spain, 39 years old

Sara Centenera Montalvo, Spain, 19 years old

Oswaldo Manuel Cisneros Villacís, Ecuador, 34 years old

Eugenia María Ciudad-Real Díaz, Spain, 26 years old

Jacqueline Contreras Ortiz, Peru, 22 years old

María Soledad Contreras Sánchez, Spain, 51 years old

María Paz Criado Pleiter, Spain, 52 years old

Nicoleta Diac, Romania, 27 years old

Beatriz Díaz Hernandez, Spain, 30 years old

Georgeta Gabriela Dima, Romania, 35 years old

Tinka Dimitrova Paunova, Bulgaria, 31 years old

Kalina Dimitrova Vasileva, Bulgaria, 31 years old

Sam Djoco, Senegal, 42 years old

María Dolores Durán Santiago, Spain, 34 years old

Osama El Amrati, Morocco, 23 years old

Sara Encinas Soriano, Spain, 26 years old

Carlos Marino Fernández Dávila, Peru, 39 years old

María Fernández del Amo, Spain, 25 years old

Rex Ferrer Reynado, Phillipines, 20 years old

Héctor Manuel Figueroa Bravo, Chile, 33 years old

Julia Frutos Rosique, Spain, 44 years old

María Dolores Fuentes Fernández, Spain, 29 years old

José Gallardo Olmo, Spain, 33 years old

José Raúl Gallego Triguero, Spain, 39 years old

María Pilar Gamiz Torres, Spain, 40 years old

Abel García Alfageme, Spain, 27 years old

Juan Luis García Arnaiz, Spain, 17 years old

Beatriz García Fernández, Spain, 27 years old

María de las Nieves García García-Moñino, Spain, 46 years old

Enrique García González, Dominican Republic, 28 years old

Cristina Aurelia García Martínez, Spain, 34 years old

Carlos Alberto García Presa, Spain, 24 years old

José García Sánchez, Spain, 45 years old

José María García Sánchez, Spain, 47 years old

Javier Garrote Plaza, Spain, 26 years old

Petrica Geneva, Romania, 34 years old

Ana Isabel Gil Pérez, Spain, 29 years old

Óscar Gómez Gudiña, Spain, 24 years old

Felix González Gago, Spain, 52 years old

Ángelica González García, Spain, 19 years old

Teresa González Grande, Spain, 38 years old

Elías González Roque, Spain, 30 years old

Juan Miguel Gracia García, Spain, 53 years old

Javier Guerrero Cabrera, Spain, 25 years old

Berta María Gutiérrez García, Spain, 39 years old

Sergio de las Heras Correa, Spain, 29 years old

Pedro Hermida Martín, Spain, 51 years old

Alejandra Iglesias López, Spain, 28 years old

Mohamed Itaiben, Morocco, 27 years old

Pablo Izquierdo Asanza, Spain, 42 years old

María Teresa Jaro Narrillos, Spain, 32 years old

Oleksandr Kladkovoy, Ukraine, 56 years old

Laura Isabel Laforga Bajón, Spain, 28 years old

María Victoria León Moyano, Spain, 30 years old

María Carmen Lominchar Alonso, Spain, 34 years old

Myriam López Díaz, Spain, 31 years old

María Carmen López Pardo, Spain, 50 years old

María Cristina López Ramos, Spain, 38 years old

José María López-Menchero Moraga, Spain, 44 years old

Miguel de Luna Ocaña, Spain, 36 years old

María Jesús Macías Rodríguez, Spain, 30 years old

Francisco Javier Mancebo Záforas, Spain, 38 years old

Ángel Manzano Pérez, Ecuador, 42 years old

Vicente Marín Chiva, Spain, 37 years old

Antonio Marín Mora, Spain, 43 years old

Begoña Martín Baeza, Spain, 25 years old

Ana Martín Fernández, Spain, 43 years old

Luis Andrés Martín Pacheco, Spain, 54 years old

María Pilar Martín Rejas, Spain, 50 years old

Alois Martinas, Romania, 27 years old

Carmen Mónica Martínez Rodríguez, Spain, 31 years old

Míriam Melguizo Martínez, Spain, 28 years old

Javier Mengíbar Jiménez, Spain, 43 years old

Álvaro de Miguel Jiménez, Spain, 26 years old

Michael Mitchell Rodríguez, Cuba, 28 years old

Stefan Modol, Romania, 45 years old

Segundo Víctor Mopocita Mopocita, Ecuador, 37 years old

Encarnación Mora Donoso, Spain, 64 years old

María Teresa Mora Valero, Spain, 37 years old

Julita Moral García, Spain, 53 years old

Francisco Moreno Aragonés, Spain, 56 years old

José Ramón Moreno Isarch, Spain, 37 years old

Eugenio Moreno Santiago, Spain, 56 years old

Juan Pablo Moris Crespo, Spain, 32 years old

Juan Muñoz Lara, Spain, 33 years old

Francisco José Narváez de la Rosa, Spain, 28 years old

Mariana Negru, Romania, 40 years old

Ismael Nogales Guerrero, Spain, 31 years old

Inés Novellón Martínez, Spain, 30 years old

Miguel Ángel Orgaz Orgaz, Spain, 34 years old

Ángel Pardillos Checa, Spain, 62 years old

Sonia Parrondo Antón, Spain, 28 years old

Juan Francisco Pastor Férez, Spain, 51 years old

Daniel Paz Manjón, Spain, 20 years old

Josefa Pedraza Pino, Spain, 41 years old

Miryam Pedraza Rivero, Spain, 25 years old

Roberto Pellicari Lopezosa, Spain, 31 years old

María del Pilar Pérez Mateo, Spain, 28 years old

Felipe Pinel Alonso, Spain, 51 years old

Martha Scarlett Plasencia Hernandez, Dominican Republic, 27 years old

Elena Ples, Romania, 33 years old

María Luisa Polo Remartinez, Spain, 50 years old

Ionut Popa, Romania, 23 years old

Emilian Popescu, Romania, 44 years old

Miguel Ángel Prieto Humanes, Spain, 37 years old

Francisco Antonio Quesada Bueno, Spain, 44 years old

John Jairo Ramírez Bedoya, Colombia, 37 years old

Laura Ramos Lozano, Honduras, 37 years old

Miguel Reyes Mateos, Spain, 37 years old

Marta del Río Menéndez, Spain, 40 years old

Nuria del Río Menéndez, Spain, 38 years old

Jorge Rodríguez Casanova, Spain, 22 years old

Luis Rodríguez Castell, Spain, 40 years old

María de la Soledad Rodríguez de la Torre, Spain, 42 years old

Ángel Luis Rodríguez Rodríguez, Spain, 34 years old

Francisco Javier Rodríguez Sánchez, Spain, 52 years old

Ambrosio Rogado Escribano, Spain, 56 years old

Cristina Romero Sánchez, Spain, 34 years old

Patricia Rzaca, Poland, 7 meses

Wieslaw Rzaca, Poland, 34 years old

Antonio Sabalete Sánchez, Spain, 36 years old

Sergio Sánchez López, Spain, 17 years old

María Isabel Sánchez Mamajón, Spain, 37 years old

Juan Antonio Sánchez Quispe, Peru, 45 years old

Balbina Sánchez-Dehesa France, Spain, 47 years old

David Santamaría García, Spain, 23 years old

Sergio dos Santos Silva, Brazil, 28 years old

Juan Carlos Sanz Morales, Spain, 33 years old

Eduardo Sanz Pérez, Spain, 31 years old

Guillermo Senent Pallarola, Spain, 23 years old

Miguel Antonio Serrano Lastra, Spain, 28 years old

Rafael Serrano López, Spain, 66 years old

Paula Mihaela Sfeatcu, Romania, 27 years old

Federico Miguel Sierra Serón, Spain, 37 years old

Domnino Simón González, Spain, 45 years old

María Susana Soler Iniesta, Spain, 46 years old

Carlos Soto Arranz, Spain, 34 years old

Mariya Ivanova Staykova, Bulgaria, 38 years old

Marion Cintia Subervielle, France, 30 years old

Alexandru Horatiu Suciu, Romania, 18 years old

Danuta Teresa Szpila, Poland, 28 years old

José Luis Tenesaca Betancourt, Ecuador, 17 years old

Iris Toribio Pascual, Spain, 20 years old

Neil Torres Mendoza, Ecuador, 38 years old

Carlos Tortosa García, Spain, 31 years old

María Teresa Tudanca Hernández, Spain, 49 years old

Jesús Utrilla Escribano, Spain, 44 years old

José Miguel Valderrama López, Spain, 25 years old

Saúl Valdez Ruiz, Honduras, 44 years old

Mercedes Vega Mingo, Spain, 45 years old

David Vilela Fernández, Spain, 23 years old

Juan Ramón Zamora Gutiérrez, Spain, 29 years old

Yaroslav Zojniuk, Ukraine, 48 years old

Csaba Olimpiu Zsigovski, Romania, 26 years old

Monday, March 10, 2008

SO THE RESULTS are in and Zapatero won yesterday's election with 163 seats v PP's 153. It's a clear victory, but I disagree with so many who say it's such a clear endorsement of his policies during the last 4 years since he unexpectedly won after the Madrid terrorist massacre.

First of all, with an almost identical turnout than in 2004, the Socialist Party did win more seats in the Congress of Deputies -the lower chamber- but with essentially the same number of votes, around 11 million. Meanwhile, the conservative Popular Party got 10.2 million votes versus 9.8 in 2004. When Aznar won in 1996, he had 156 seats in parliament, only 3 more than this time. So you could argue that the conservative PP lost by winning, if you get my drift. He did better than last time, but not well enough. Meanwhile, the Socialists won by staying pretty much were they were. It's a sweet-and-sour victory of sorts

What we're seeing is that the political scene has polarized and that the 2 major parties are getting most of the vote, with smaller and regional parties getting a substantial minor chunk of the pie. It was a tendency which started in earlier contests, but now it's clear that Spain is becoming a two-party system.

So, how come the Socialist Party got more seats if it got essentially the same number of votes, you may be asking yourselves. The answer is easy: let me introduce you to Mr. D'Hondt. The way Spain allocates seats, big parties are benefited: they get proportionally more seats than they would in a pure proportional system. So the number of seats depend as much on how many votes big parties get as on how many the smaller parties get. That is, in a pure proportional system, if three parties get, say 100 votes each, and considering for the sake of the argument that you need 100 votes to get a seat, they would all get one seat. But if one party gets 200 votes and the other two 75 and 25 votes each, the winning party doesn't get 2 seats and the second one the third, but it gets all three. Got it?

And the fact is that in this election many small parties, who had a remarkable representation in the Congress of Deputies -at least enough to make a dent-, this time simply crashed and burned. They were small parties that the Socialist party had been allied with during this four years. When Zapatero won in 2004, he didn't have a clear majority, and had made clear that he was going to advance his reform agenda no matter what the main opposition party thought. It was an arrangement that worked well for both sides: Zapatero needed those small parties to get enough votes to pass those reforms, and those small parties enjoyed an amount of influence they would have never dreamt of. They were either the Communist party (IU) or Catalan pro-independence parties (ERC), who in turn demanded concessions in exchange for his support, which translated in a clear left turn of the Socialist party. They even signed an agreement to establish a cordon sanitarie isolating the Popular Party: they pledged not to enter into any kind of agreement whatsoever with the conservatives (yeah, you read that right).

Little did those guys imagine they were sitting in a couch with an 800-pound gorilla who would crush them into tiny bits. Which is exactly what happened yesterday: either their voters thought their ballot would be more effective if it was cast to the bigger one (Mr. D'Hondt again; why voting a small guy if you get the same agenda implemented by Mr Big, with more chances to win?), or either they stayed home disappointed. After all, their bases were not entirely comfortable with their leaders' decisions to support the Socialist party: for the communists, it isn't leftist enough; for the Catalan pro-independentists, Socialist parties -with their their internationalistic foundations- are not exactly nationalistic nirvana.

But Zapatero's victory is far from sweeping for another reason. While the Socialist Party won the Congress of Deputies yesterday, the conservative Popular Party won the Senate. True, in Spain the higher chamber is not like in the US or other countries, where it introduces legislation: it merely has a second look to what the Congress has passed. It can modify that legislation and even strike it down, but in either of those cases the bill is sent back to Congress, who can accept or reject the Senate's decision. So it means the real legislative power lays in the lower chamber, but, still, it can get complicated if the Popular Party decides to filibuster every single piece of legislation.

So in the next four years, Zapatero's choice will be to re-build the bridges with the Popular Party he so badly burned since 2004, bringing some calm to the political climate, which is badly needed. Or he can reach agreement with the moderate Catalan party CiU, which is not pro-independence and is quite pro-business, pro-Western: they got 11 seats, enough for the Socialist Party to get the absolute majority (176 seats). Or he can go on like he did in the last 4 years, since, since there's not really an alternative: even if the PP would convince CiU to coalesce against Zapatero, they still wouldn't have enough seats for a recall.

My hunch is that the latest scenario is the most likely: after all, Zapatero knows that if he moves towards the center, the Communists and the Catalan independentists will revive, and any vote fragmentation will be costly.

UPDATE. Soeren Kern is gloomy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

HERE YOU'LL BE ABLE to follow the live results of today's general election in Spain, coming in as they are being counted. What, you thought that only TV had nice swirling effects?

UPDATE. It seems there's some problem with the widget, don't know the reason and whether it'll be back (being a widget it's not under my control, of course). I'll leave this as it is in case it comes back, but if you can't wait to take a look, you can head to my blog in Spanish (where, oddly, it does work; may be because of the language selection)

UPDATE II. Yes, it seems it has to do with language selection; I'm putting the Spanish version but you can select English at the bottom.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

TWO GREAT PIECES explaining what you can expect in Spain's general election tomorrow and what has happened in the last four years: one by John Chappell at Pajamas Media, another by Soeren Kern at Brussels Journal. Both were published before yesterday's assassination, which changes the scenario a little, but they're still very valid.

Friday, March 07, 2008

AS THEY OFTEN DO in the days immediately before elections, ETA terrorists have killed again:
A former councillor from Spain's ruling Socialist Party was shot dead outside his house in the Basque Country town of Mondragon on Friday two days before a national election, police said.Isaias Carrasco, 42, was shot in the back of the neck in a style typical of Basque separatist rebels ETA, newspaper El Pais said on its Web site.
(emphasis mine: Reuters apparently can't call them terrorists even when they kill)

It will be interesting to see how it affects the last day of campaigning, and whether it'll have any impact in the elections themselves: although the kind of attack is totally different, let's not forget what happened exactly 4 years ago --three days before the previous general election. It was the fact that ETA usually kills right before elections what made everybody think (yes, even Zapatero and the Socialist party officials) that ETA was the author of the Madrid train massacre.

For the moment, both Socialists and the conservative Popular Party have cancelled all rallies for the last day of the campaign; tomorrow it what we call "day of reflection," when all political propaganda is forbidden the day before the actual vote.

I only hope no one is a jerk and starts using this to their advantage, saying a dumb thing about how this proves whatever. Don't have much hope, though.

UPDATE. John of Iberian Notes says this will hurt Zapatero and benefit the PP. I'm not so sure, though. Don't want to sound callous, but the fact that the poor guy who was murdered was a Socialist could be used by Zapatero to prove that he didn't give anything to the ETA during the negotiation, as he had been saying without much success because what people generally thought was that he didn't give them enough. Let's see what the Interior minister says when he appears before the press in a short while.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

THERE'S A CRUCIAL ELECTION in Spain this Sunday; Zapatero seems to be ahead in the polls, generally by the margin of error, making it a statistical tie. So it'll be interesting to see what pans out. Unfortunately I don't have much time to blog about the runup, but if you want to read something ahead of the vote to see how things are standing you can use this roundup of by John of Iberian Notes about what the English-language media are saying. And in general scroll down, he's great.