Minority parties seeking votes from the fringe
Cutting back on smoking, increasing the amount of sport played or working to help end poverty might sound like New Year's resolutions. But these are just a few of the objectives of Spain's "fringe" political parties.20 February 2008
MADRID - Cutting back on smoking, increasing the amount of sport played or working to help end poverty might sound like New Year's resolutions. But these are just a few of the objectives of Spain's "fringe" political parties.
The majority of the 92 parties and coalitions who will be putting up candidates in the 9 March general election are small organisations without any realistic hope of winning a seat in Congress, where just 11 parties gained representation last time. Dozens of groups will be making their first appearance.
The Assembly for Electronic Voting (Asamblea de Votación Electrónica), for example, has only been in existence for two months. In that time, it has only managed to put forward a candidate in A Coruña. But it has much wider ambitions, and intends to represent people who never vote, or who spoil their ballot. Its goal is to allow the electorate to vote directly in Congress via the internet. It has no programme, and says it does not want to hold office. "If you are going to abstain, give us your vote," its spokesman explains. "If something that interests you comes up in Congress or the Senate, use the assembly and your opinion will be expressed."
Discontent with the system has prompted the creation of several special interest parties. Ciudadanos en Blanco aims to give a voice, or more accurately silence, to spoiled ballot papers - a vote for them would mean an empty seat in Congress. With just five members, and a statute, the minimum needed to form a party, they stood in the 2004 elections, winning 40,000 votes - only 20,000 less than Navarre's leftist nationalist party Nafarroa Bai, which did win one seat in Congress.
Other parties pursue more specific goals. The Partido Antitaurino is committed to banning bullfights, while the Representación Cannábica Navarra is putting forward eight candidates in a bid to not only legalise cannabis use, but also to regulate cultivation of the plant, with the corresponding "economic benefits."
At the other end of the scale, there is the Partido de los NO FUMADORES, which has only been in existence for a year. It wants tougher anti-smoking legislation, which would make Spain smoke-free.
The Alternativa Motor y Deportes is a pressure group lobbying on behalf of car and motorcycle users. It wants to see better roads, and safer barriers.
There are also a number of environmentalist groups putting up candidates, along with republican parties and a couple from the far right. One party that decided to throw in the towel after the last elections is Grupo Político Honradez Absoluta Española (Absolute Political Honesty), whose candidates won just 52 votes throughout Spain.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / PABLO LINDE 2008]
Subject: Spanish news