Institutional quality: an issue that went almost unnoticed by the mayoral candidates

Today the people of Cordoba will decide the fate of the provincial capital for the next four years, which is not a fact to be taken lightly or an easy commitment to cancel with the small argument that says: “I’m not interested in politics.”

Córdoba is a large, extensive and densely populated city, with which its problems become increasingly complex and the services that the municipal State must provide are usually rightly emphasized: health, transportation, education, work, environment. To these issues was added security which, in principle, has nothing to do with the municipality but, given the severe inconvenience it causes the population, adds to the list of issues that a mayor must resolve or, at least, participate in their resolution.

These issues are part, with nuances, of all the candidates’ campaign platforms. But there are issues that are not discussed and that, in principle, have to do with institutional quality. That handful of articles did not come out of the pocket, nor did the health of the people, but they do, deep down, make democracy more solid and even protective of the population.

In the ballot that will be in the dark room today, the citizen will see that the single ballot has two sections: one to elect mayor and councilors and another to nominate the members of the Court of Accounts of the City of Córdoba. The person who is going to vote does not have the possibility of electing councilors from one party and mayor from another. He is not free to separate or divide his choice.

Almost no one prefers them. However, although it cannot divide votes, it has the power to make preferences. Of the 31 candidates on the list, you can change the position of three, placing them according to their order number, in the three boxes of the last segment of the ballot. Vacancies are filled by those who come behind in the order of the list.

This possibility has been in force for a few years, but it is of no application. The electorate did not appropriate this system, which perhaps requires special preparation. The arguments that can be given are different, but the truth is that the preference applies to a very small number of people who are going to vote.

Why are mayors and councilors together? To ensure governability, says the Municipal Organic Charter sanctioned in 1995. 28 years after the creation of this norm, there are several voices that want a modification of the governing norm in the Provincial Capital.

Political analyst Daniel Zovatto believes that this “is like when a person takes cholesterol pills, which if they are taken will lower cholesterol but can cause liver problems. There is no electoral reform that contains pure virtues. And the governance clause in the city of Córdoba is one of those issues”.

“It gives you the facility that if you win the election, the mayor or an executive position comes with all the support to be able to govern, but that does not end up being positive because the important thing is that there is a balance in the powers and that this forces a dialogue, so that many of the decisions are not forced by the steamroller of the majority but are the product of consensus, Zovatto opined. And he added: “I say that since the provincial Legislature was formed, an unprecedented situation will be entered in which dialogue, consensus building and agreements will be very necessary.”

Date of election and debates. In Córdoba, both at the provincial level and in the capital city, the date of an election is resolved by the highest authority of the Executive Branch. In this way, the governor or the mayor will determine when the vote will be taken, which is a real nonsense because the electoral calendar is tied to the convenience of the rulers. In the Nation, for example, the law says when the elections are (STEP, first round and ballot). Then there are no surprises for anyone and the parties or electoral alliances can prepare their project and their campaign without any inconvenience.

Every four years, the opposition forces are obliged to receive without giving an opinion on the schedule or giving a minimum point of view. No consultation, no dialogue, much less consensus on this point.

Debate, discussion between pro-government supporters and the entire opposition arc is necessary to modernize the legal system. Possibly the Organic Charter should be reformed, later it will be seen how, but the new mayor should set these issues among his priorities after taking office on December 10.

The same occurs with the candidate debates provided for by an Ordinance that was never regulated. It is essential that society see the candidates debate certain points of social interest. The national model is also an example to follow in this matter.

Obviously, security, health or education are urgent issues that will occupy the time of officials. The same happens with the economic situation, although it is not an issue that depends exclusively on local authorities.

Institutional quality, obviously, is not a blockbuster issue. It would only be necessary to bear in mind that contributing to improving the health of democracy, nothing more than that.