Leonese - Sociopolitical Organization

Each household is independent in the conduct of its internal affairs. Deference in this context is paid to the owner of the house, when decisions must be made regarding joint activities on the farm. However, each adult member of the household, female and male, has a voice. Outside of the household, local sociopolitical organization is dominated by the concept of the concejo or council, in which each head of household participates. Meetings held in fall and winter, often in conjunction with feasts, are held in the town meeting hall. In spring and summer, they are often held outside. These councils stand as the guardians of customary law, deciding on such community concerns as the use of common lands. Only men could serve on the councils, and among men, only those who were married and possessed a house and some land in the village itself. Upon admission to the council, the member paid a fee. The system of turn taking—in pasturing the pooled cattle of the villagers, for example—was regulated by the Council. Other activities that were the responsibility of the council were the organizing of communal labor to repair roads and maintain boundary markers and to serve in other economic, political, and religious capacities on a turn-taking basis. Such council decisions were optimally achieved by consensus, but leaders and officers existed, chosen by election. Community self-rule of times past was legally displaced in the nineteenth-century imposition of uniform laws throughout the state, and organs responsive to the centralized government ( juntas administrativa ) were established in their place. Yet the council system persists, retaining much of its role as interpreter and enforcer of local customary law.

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