Spain recently had two big pieces of legislation passed. One outlawed smoking in restaurants, bars and other public buildings and spaces; the other lowered the highway speed limit from 120 km/hr to 110 km/hr.
On a personal level, I agree that these are good pieces of legislation. I don’t like coming home from a night out with the smell of smoke ingrained in my clothing and waking up with breathing difficulties. I also think that speed limits are too high, given the lack of oil in the world, and the wastefulness of driving fast; and considering the state of the air in Madrid the last few months, I think it’s necessary.
But I was taken aback by one thing, which even in the people’s republic of California would not have happened. That is, there as no vote. The laws were merely passed, thrust upon the people by the authorities, and that’s that. So, is Spain a democracy or not?
When I expressed my concerns to one of my friends, a Spaniard, he said to me, smiling sardonically, “We get to vote once, every four years, and the party that wins gets to do whatever it wants with us for those four years.”