How the World Votes: The Story of Democratic Development in Elections - Vol. 2

By Charles Seymour; Donald Paige Frary | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXI
BOSS RULE IN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

SPAIN is perhaps one of the most conspicuous examples of the states which appropriated English parliamentarism in the early nineteenth century in the fond expectation that once entered on the statute books, parliamentary institutions would thereby blossom into full maturity. This wholesale copying of English models without consideration of differences in race led nowhere; for despite the traditional precedent found for nineteenth century liberalism in the medieval Cortes of Spain, the Spanish are without the rich and varied background of self-government, which some other nations possess. As a result Spain has afforded the spectacle of modern politics struggling with the prejudices and the popular apathy of the days of Philip the Second.

Democratic government was foredoomed to be chiefly nominal because of the influence which the kings have exerted upon the Cortes ever since the Middle Ages, in the attempt to reduce the importance of the people's representatives. The power which belonged to the king at the beginning of the nineteenth century, passed later into the hands of the Cabinet. At present the only functions directly and personally exercised by the King are the dissolution of the Cortes, the calling of an election, and the nomination or dismissal of ministers Sovereignty, therefore, really resides, not in the nation nor in

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