Conservative party leader Feijóo stands alone in proposal to amend Electoral Act

by Lorraine Williamson
Electoral Act

The president of the Spanish conservative party Partido Popular, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has now, with the elections approaching, written a proposal to reform the Electoral Act that will see the party govern with the most votes. 

Feijóo’s plan now proposes a reform of Spain’s Organic Electoral Act LOREG for municipal councils. Later, it would also apply to communities and central government. The PP’s proposal for the list with the most votes to rule in municipal councils limits the power of plenary councils. 

PP leader Feijóo presented a plan for ‘institutional quality’ in Cadiz on Monday, which includes an initiative to reform Article 180 of the Organic Law 5/1985 of 19 June on the General Electoral System (LOREG). This should guarantee that whoever received the most votes becomes mayor.  

The PP also proposed to limit the power of municipal plenary assemblies, allowing the winner of the elections to govern municipal councils without the need for agreements. The PP’s proposal aims to let the mayor govern without the municipal plenary having to approve management matters, in other words, the plenary would lose important powers so that the mayor could govern without political pacts with other parties.  

Municipal councils first, then nationwide? 

For now, the proposal is that the most votes in the municipal councils should rule, but sources in Feijóo’s immediate team stress that this will be extended to autonomous communities and the central government. This would require more far-reaching reforms, such as amending autonomy statutes and even the constitution. ‘As president of the government, Feijóo would only have the power to tackle reforms when it comes to municipal councils,’ sources close to him stress. Feijóo has promised to implement the reform when he comes to power in the first 100 days of his government.  

No agreement with PSOE needed 

If the reform is limited to the LOREG, through an amendment to Article 180, an absolute majority in Congress and a simple majority in the Senate would be needed, as in any other organic law. In other words, the PP could adopt the proposal without an agreement with the socialist PSOE.  

Feijóo called for a political pact with the PSOE, without requiring legal reforms, as he suggested on 10 January. ‘I would like Mr Sánchez and I to agree on this during the election campaign. If he wins the elections, I will let him govern. I want the same offer: if I win, I can govern,’ Feijóo stated. 

No support for the proposal 

At election time, this issue about the mayoralty and the power of municipal councils plays out more often when elections are on the horizon. This time it was rejected by the majority of the entire political spectrum, from right to left. 

The government was quick to respond to the PP by rejecting the offer. The PSOE describes the proposal as a joke. It sees it as an excuse to ally with the far-right party Vox if the socialists do not accept its proposal to let the list with the most votes govern. ‘We all believe that if he gets the chance to join forces with Vox, he will do so, because it has not been that long since he did,’ wondered Territorial Policy Minister and government spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez. Feijóo’s initiative has little chance, apart from the political debate it opens, due to the PSOE’s quick refusal. The socialists speak of a “joke” and revert to the same message: Feijóo wants the list with the most votes to govern, as long as it is the PP that can govern.  

Not credible 

The left does not find Feijóo credible, recalling that after the 2019 municipal and regional elections, the PP made a pact with Vox and Ciudadanos to prevent the PSOE from governing in many areas where it won elections. The left also points out that some of the PP’s main assets, such as Madrid president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Andalucian Juanma Moreno or Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida, governed for the first time without having the list with the most votes. A situation that also occurred in places like Castilla y León, Murcia and the Zaragoza city council, where the Socialists won.  

At a meeting of the electoral commission last Monday, they demanded coherence and serious measures from the PP leader instead of ‘incoherent proposals’, ‘minor issues’ and ‘jokes’. The PSOE’s spokeswoman and education minister, Pilar Alegría, also tried to put her finger on the problem by pointing out that Isabel Díaz Ayuso, ‘the PP’s other spokeswoman’ has also already thrown up her glasses. ‘She cannot propose a measure in which she herself does not believe and which has been declared invalid by her own party’. Ayuso became president in 2019 without having won.  

Reactions from Vox, Podemos and Ciuadanos 

But Vox also says it is opposed and aims to oust Pedro Sánchez even if he wins the election. Podemos and Ciudadanos also criticise Feijóo’s measure for curtailing democracy and dynamising representation. Podemos party leader María Teresa Pérez called the PP president “a political and constitutional illiterate”. She criticised him for trying to “curtail democracy” and “undermine the constitution through the back door”. New Ciudadanos political spokesperson Patricia Guasp accused the PP leader of going against the will of the citizens. 

Also read: Mass demonstrations in Madrid against prime minister Pedro Sanchez and government policies

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