"Entire Village Suspected of Mayor's Murder,"

reports the Telegraph. "Santiago Miramar, the only villager who would comment on this week's events, said there were few in Fago who didn't consider themselves an enemy of the mayor." My question: If he's so disliked, how did he get elected?

Thanks to Hit & Run -- say, speaking of murder -- for the pointer.

Gerard McCusker:
Wikipedia says "Direct appointment [of mayors] by the central government exists in Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the smaller towns and Spain."
1.24.2007 7:08pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Direct Appointment. Like Putin's Russia. I'll have to either reform my opinion of Putin's Russia or what the Europeans call democracy.

Says the "Dog"
1.24.2007 7:16pm
Dr. Hibbard (mail):
I don't know how to solve this mystery. Do yoooou?
1.24.2007 7:16pm
Chief Wiggum (mail):
Well, I'll give it a shot, I mean, it is my job...
1.24.2007 7:17pm
Except for the murder part, it sounds a little like the story of California's Gray Davis -- first popularly elected, then popularly despised, and never saw a bridge that didn't need burning. Maybe the village, unlike California, didn't have legal provisions for recall elections.
1.24.2007 7:20pm
Armen (mail) (www):
There's an early modern Spanish novel on this called Fuente Ovejuna. The investigator asks the entire town, "Quien mato el comendador?" And they reply in unison, "Fuente Ovejuna, senor!"

Of course, to believe that story, you'd have to ignore all the Simpson DNA. And that would be preposterous.
1.24.2007 8:11pm
Freddy Hill (mail):
Gerard McCuske, Dog: As always, you should take Wikipedia with a grain of salt. From the Spanish Constitution:

"Section 140
The Constitution guarantees the autonomy of municipalities. These shall enjoy full legal personality. Their government and administration shall be vested in their Town Councils, consisting of Mayors and councillors. Councillors shall be elected by residents of the municipality by universal, equal, free, direct and secret suffrage, in the manner provided for by the law. The Mayors shall be elected by the councillors or by the residents. The law shall lay down the terms under which an open council of all residents may proceed."

So, the mayor was either elected by the people or by councillors who were in turn elected by the people (in a system not unlike the American presidential elections).

By the way, the village contains a grand total of 37 permanent residents. It looks to me that, following what these days passes for investigative reporting, the journalist just dropped by the local pub and bought a couple of rounds.
1.24.2007 8:15pm
Freddy Hill (mail):

Yes, it definitely reminds one of Fuente Ovejuna, doesn't it? A "town" kills the oppressor. The story is actually a play, not a novel, written by Lope de Vega, a contemporary of Shakespeare and the foremost Spanish playwright. Fuente Ovejuna is as much a part of the Spanish collective psyche as Hamlet is for the English. This probably explains why this simple murder tale captured the imagination of many Spaniards.
1.24.2007 8:22pm
Not knowing where else to put it, since this isn't a Sunday night.

The Wreck of the Patrick Fitzgerald.
1.24.2007 9:30pm
He may have been widely disliked, but it doesn't sound like the cops think the whole town was in on the murder. More like the village is small enough that it's feasible to do DNA testing on everybody, so they rounded them all up. I'd guess that Spain isn't as protective as the U.S. against unreasonable searches and seizures.
1.24.2007 9:35pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Sounds like maybe a "Murder On The Orient Express" kind of deal.
1.24.2007 9:57pm
Seerak (mail):
My question: If he's so disliked, how did he get elected?

I wa asking the same questions in the early 90's in Canada, when it seemed like everybody I met just loathed Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

One might think that it was just a consequence of a severe gust in the political winds, but he was so disliked by the time he resigned in 1993, that the Canadian Right (such as it is) never saw power again until last year — and that even only after re-inventing itself twice.
1.24.2007 11:15pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
So was the entire town traveling on the Orient Express at the time?
1.25.2007 12:12am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
The Telegraph article specifically refers to the Mayor being elected, so we can discount the theory that he was appointed. I think that the key is the tiny size of the community. Unless there is a tradition of passing the job around, someone is likely to hold it for a long time. (I have friends in a similar tiny community in the south of France that had the same mayor for over 50 years.) Once that person becomes possessed of it, there is a significant social cost to ousting him because in such small communities politics is necessarily personal. Running against the incumbent is likely to cause a rift not only with him but with his friends and family, who comprise a large percentage of one's neighbors. If EVERYBODY comes to hate him, they can easily remove him at the next election, but if it is really a significant minority that hate him, they may be reluctant to run someone against him.
1.25.2007 1:23am
zarevitz (mail) (www):
According to the official data (, the results of the 2003 municipal elections in Fago were the following:

- Popular Party's candidate Miguel José Grima Masia [the murdered mayor]: 17 votes
- Socialist Party's candidate Santiago Mainar Sauras: 5 votes

Other data:
- People entitled to vote: 36
- People that actually voted: 23
-- Voted for a candidate: 22
-- Voted in blank: 1
1.25.2007 7:06am
zarevitz (mail) (www):
Perpahs the loser, Santiago Mainar, is the person quoted by the Telegraph as the only one willing to comment on the issue.
1.25.2007 7:09am

I remember that time in Canadian politics with Mulroney... I always thought the last years of office for Jean Chretien were similar: everyone knew he was a crook with the kickbacks and other scandals, and yet he kept on getting elected. (I know this happened because Ontario and Quebec were frightened by the bugaboo "scary" Conservative Party, but it still made no sense to me why people were electing someone who they knew to be a corrupt politician. Okay, both political options may be terrible, but why not give the other guy a chance? If the other guy messes up, you can kick him out next election, but why keep staying with known corruption?)
1.25.2007 9:31am
Gary McGath (www):
It's a very small town. It was probably easy for him to intimidate some and rely on the indifference of the rest.

As a Tolkien reader, I'm amused that someone named Grima tried to lord it over a town and met his comeuppance.
1.25.2007 10:26am
So many maybes:

- Maybe the population found out he used public funds for his own, very personal, expenses;

- Maybe he had an affair with 40% of village's women, contributing to half the village being now infected with gonorrhea;

- Maybe it was found that he clearly stole the election and chose to wage war at the next village to wag the dog ;

- Maybe medias simply found it sexier to shout that the whole village had a reason to kill him rather than having a single boring homicide case to darken the newspapers' pages... ;
1.25.2007 3:17pm
BobVDV (mail):
It takes a village to kill a mayor?
1.25.2007 5:18pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
Considering the things people were willing to accuse him of after his murder, I'd love to have heard the things they were muttering about him while he was still alive. We already have public corruption (protecting his own business at the expense of all others,) major disruptions of standard practices (I wonder why he banned animal herding in town: for crying out loud, there are only 37 permanent residents!) AND he angered the parent lobby. Sure, that's at most four people, but that's also more than 10% of the total population.

In any case, if there were three killers working as a gang, and all three are permanent residents of the village, then that's 8% of the village right there. It's not so much a mob as a riot, by their standards.
1.25.2007 9:07pm