Spanish Turmoil

Analysis from our member organisation ”Fundación por la Europa de los Ciudadanos” for the European Elections in Spain, right after the national elections and the new framework that is being shaped.

After a period of increased electoral support to forces considered progressive, we are currently in a period of re-composition of the political landscape, marked by the new far-right party, “Vox”, which has entered the political scene forcefully starting both from the last regional elections of Andalusia (December 2018) and the recent general elections. Therefore, we have quite many reasons to believe that they will also get representation in the European elections. Vox grows fundamentally from the dissatisfied electorate of the Popular Party (which is in crisis due to the corruption cases that affected it) with an anti-immigration and anti-feminist discourse as well as a “pro-unity of Spain” narrative as an answer to the political crisis in Catalonia.

On the other hand, the left represented in the Congreso de los Diputados by Unidos Podemos (coalition that brings together Podemos, Izquierda Unida, Cataluña en Común and En Marea) faces a crisis at different levels in the upcoming local, regional and European elections. In some municipalities and regions, such as Madrid, it is not possible to reach consensus on common candidacies. That implies a scenario of having two or even three different candidacies in the next local and regional elections from the same currently common space. Fortunately, it has been possible to reach a common agreement regarding the European Elections, with a candidature composed by independents candidates and members of Podemos, Izquierda Unida and Cataluña en Común.

Concerning the state level, the majority that made possible in the Congress the motion of censorship against the conservative government of the Popular Party revealed too fragile to continue. The Socialist Party forced early elections after the lack of agreement in the General Budget for 2019. The results of the recent elections show us a new composition of the Congress where the Socialist Party increases six points of electoral support (passing from 85 to 123 seats) and Unidos Podemos and its regional convergences loses 29 seats (losing 6,79 points of electoral support). On the conservative pole, the Partido Popular loses the half of its electoral support (-49,41% and 71 seats) since their votes were picked up by Ciudadanos (from 32 to 57 seats) and the far right party Vox (24 seats and a 10,26% of votes). The final numbers, having into account other regional parties, imposes a future government based in the support of several parties but always with the Socialist Party as the main actor in the play.

Topics moving into the main debates articulated in the public dialogue: 

    1. The territorial organisation of the State. After the process launched by the Catalan government on its bigger autonomy and the response of the PP government with the support of PSOE to apply an article of the Constitution that temporarily suspended the self-government of Catalonia (with additional political repression), the territorial model has occupied the center of the political debate. The positions are polarized between nationalist parties with presence in the Congress as ERC, PdCat or PNV (in favour of the right to self-determination) and those who defend a greater centralization of the State in defense of the unity of Spain (PP, Ciudadanos, Vox), while Unidos Podemos is in a negotiated, democratic and inclusive exit position.
    2. Μigration is another issue that occupies the headlines in the media. In this sense, the extreme right of VOX is ruling the agenda setting with its proposal for the citizens to report on the presence of illegal migrants and call for their deportation. This proposal has managed to mobilize also PP and Ciudadanos. The socialist PSOE defends proposals for a regulation of migration through the model of the contracts with the countries of origin, for example, but on the other hand is symbolically placing itself in the anti-immigration camp when they banned the Open Arms ship to be docked in Spanish ground. On the contrary, Unidas Podemos stands for human rights and therefore against the current Immigration Law by defending proposals against the “Detention Centers”, racist raids and deportations.
    3. In foreign affairs, the Venezuelan crisis is at the center of interest. All parties, except for Unidos Podemos, stand close to the position of recognition of Guaido as a self-proclaimed president. Unidas Podemos support the solution of an international mediation led by Mexico and Uruguay.
    4. During the last few months, the taxi sector has been fighting against the deregulation of VTC licenses, which has had a great impact on the media. We could say that this is representative of a wider struggle against digital capitalism disguised as a “collaborative economy”. The only political party that raises a regulation of this sector with defense of the public goods is Unidas Podemos.

Focusing on the European Elections question, we shall admit that is not an issue on the current political agenda. However, we can identify issues related to Catalonia (the Catalan government appeals to the European institutions as a field of political pressure for its interests in the struggle against the central government). Other topic would be the Brexit and its impact for the Spanish community residing there and for the definition of the borders with the territory of Gibraltar.

As mentioned above, the candidature “Unidas Podemos Cambiar Europa” (United We Can Change Europe) would include Podemos, Izquierda Unidaand Cataluña en Común. In this same list there would be parties that are currently part of the Party of the European Left (IU, PCE, EUiA), of GUE/NGL (Podemos, IU) and the Green Group (ICV). Among these parties, some have expressed sympathy for initiatives such as the Plan B (Podemos).

Cover photo: poster of the electoral campaign of Unidas Podemos.