Nicaragua’s gassy municipal governments are about to get a lot more bloated thanks to a peculiar proposal by First Lady Rosario Murillo to exponentially increase the size of city councils.
Murillo says her husband will send a legislative initiative to the Sandinista-dominated National Assembly—probably as an emergency measure, as is his wont—proposing that the number of local politicians in Nicaragua be increased three-fold, from 2,178 to 6,534.
Murillo says ballooning municipal government administrations will strengthen her vision of “direct democracy” and citizen participation, apparently by making everyone who wants to be a city councilman or a substitute selectman.
The bureaucratic beef-up will make municipal governments work better, according to Murillo’s plan. “This is a very important advance in the model of Citizen Power, the model of Direct Democracy,” she said.
Murillo explained that the fattening will be done proportionate to the population of each municipality. Municipalities with less than 30,000 people, which is 83% of the country, will increase their local governments from 5 to 16 city councilmen and supplemental salary-sucks.
Municipalities with 100,000-150,000 people (Jinotega, Estelí, Chinandega, Tipitapa, Ciudad Sandino, Granada, Puerto Cabezas and Siuna) will increase their decibel level to 35 local politicos, while León will swell to a rambunctious 50–member city council.
Managua, as usual, gets the ungovernability booby prize, by adding an additional 61 members to its already overstuffed city council of 19.
Murillo says the exponential increase in councilmen will not affect the municipal budget. But her official media reported that the increase in councilmen will not affect anyone’s salary.
It can’t be both. If there’s no budget increase, it would mean current councilmen will suddenly start getting a fraction of their old paycheck as their salaries get divided a dozen ways to pay for all the new political deadwood. On the other hand, if salaries are not affected, cash-strapped municipal governments would have to figure out how to pay 4,356 more salaries for hot-winded politicians to sit around a table and talk on their cell phones during city council meetings.
Either way, it’s hard to imagine how the proposed beef-up will help muncipalities run more efficiently.