Page:The Martyrdom of Ferrer.djvu/46

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THE POLITICAL SYSTEM OF SPAIN

and you have an idea of Spain's "political system." All the officials of the country are in it. When we come to examine the evidence against Ferrer, it will be essential to remember this. The alcalde (head official) of a small town is not a free agent, deposing out of conviction. He is "appointed," and owes his place to what the Spaniards genially call "His Majesty Recommendation." The Civil Governors are "recommended"; the posts in the army and navy are secured by "recommendation"; from college upward one dreams of "recommendation"—and the price of recommendation is loyalty to the recommender. The whole set of officials in a district is the "cacique," or clique of appointed men depending on the central "oligarchs." This is the most notorious part of the "immorality" and "corruption" which we have heard denounced. And as an "eloquent example" of such a structure Señor Costa instances (p. 53) the "cacique at Barcelona"!

The link between the central power and the local body of dependents is the "Civil Governor," an official whom we shall find at work later. I pretend to no knowledge of him, but consult the Athenæum's work on his position. The Civil Governor, Señor Costa says, is "the link between the central oligarchy and the peripheral caciquismo." One may add, "and the dutiful servant of the local bishop." Sanchez de Toca says that he is sent down by the central power "on the juridical fiction" that he is merely an agent for the supervision of public order and fiscal matters. This, he says, is a fiction, because he is the absolute tool of the oligarchs and is their "electoral agent." So the system is bound together, and the manipulation of the elections secured. In the large towns such electoral corruption can no longer be practised with impunity, and they send Republican deputies to the Cortes. Perez Galdos, the greatest writer in Spain, is Republican deputy for Madrid; Alejandro Lerroux for Barcelona.

But in the small towns the electoral returns are a mockery. Señor Moret describes the candidate hypocritically seeking votes. "It does not matter," he says, "whether they vote for him or not." His real work is the secret and corrupt negotiation with the local cacique. Cases have been put before me in which votes have been cast somewhat in the