A Scenario of Political Change in Spain

The most important and immediate conclusion of the local and regional elections that took place on 24 May in Spain is the creation of an unprecedented political scenario in our country; the new political and representational map has brought about realistic expectations for a real change in Spain.

The right-wing Popular Party has managed to maintain their status as the most voted party, but this is not very significant. They have lost more than two and a half million votes from one election to another, and more than ten percent of votes. The PP government got 45.7% in the 2011 general elections and 37.54% of the vote in the 2011 municipal elections. That percentage has now dropped to 27%. And finally, they have now lost the absolute majority in all of the autonomous communities where they were governing. That means that the party that has led the austerity policy with an iron fist, the cutbacks, and that has produced a huge decline in the quality of the standard of living in our society has paid an important electoral price.
It is also important to add that it is the first time that corruption has had electoral repercussions. A shocking fact from the 2011 elections was that corrupt politicians had equal or more votes than the electoral average of their parties. It seems that this phenomenon has come to an end, and this is very important in terms of political culture.
A second significant aspect is the deterioration of what has been the policy reference of the transition in Spain: the two party system which is understood as turn-taking and the convergence between the PP and the PSOE in Spanish politics. The sum of votes from both parties came to represent in their best times more than 85% of the total votes in successive electoral events in general, local or regional elections.
Therefore, this time the sum of votes of both formations is 52%, continuing the trend that began in the last European elections. This situation opens up a new scenario on local and regional level: fragmentation of the representation and coalition governments. It will be time to know the positioning of the new players (Podemos and Ciudadanos, especially) in the left-right axis.
One of the variables that should not be forgotten is the possibility of agreements between the PSOE and the PP in the name of governance and the "general interest of Spain" against the imagined threat of institutional instability.
The attempt to prevent the transfer of votes between political blocs with the creation of Ciudadanos has had less effect than expected. Finally, Ciudadanos, a right-wing party driven by the economic power (it has been known as the party of the Ibex 35, the stock index of large corporations that operate in the stock market in Spain) and created to prevent that social discontent would transform into a vote for left options, have achieved very modest results in comparison to the demoscopic forecasts. However, their role will be important in key communities such as Madrid, La Rioja and Murcia.
Podemos achieved excellent results in its first appearance in elections of this kind: it is consolidated as the third or fourth electoral force and becomes key to political change in communities such as Madrid, Pais Valencia, Illes Baleares, Castilla-La Mancha and Aragón. But there are two observations to consider, first, that the results are lower than the public opinion surveys and the own expectations that the party had raised in relation to this elections. The second is that it is not the only force that has grown in votes, in presence and in political advocacy. Considering the multinational status of our country we cannot ignore Compromís in the Community of Valencia or Mes in the Balearic Islands or Geroa Bai or Bildu in Navarre (in Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia and Andalusia only local elections were held). In fact, in both the Community of Valencia and Navarra, we can see that Podemos is behind the left nationalist forces and in the Balearic Islands it is only slightly above of the nationalist parties. This is an interesting fact, Podemos cannot compete with the left nationalist space where the left nationalists have a presence and are consolidated.
Another tremendously stimulating result is the fact that the candidacies of social and political confluence have succeeded in the municipal elections. In cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza, they have become the first or second force and they have improved the results of the other alternative left forces in dispute nearly everywhere.
Izquierda Unida has achieved excellent results in the municipal elections – more than a million and a half votes and more than 7% and has the same number of local councillors as in the past elections – and disappointing results in the regional elections.
What is important, in my opinion is that a new space in our country is being created for political change with innumerable possibilities through convergence and agreements of the political forces through the alternative left. We have the responsibility to ensure success of the dreams of change for the society of the left in Spain that clearly want political change. Expressions such as Popular Unity, Social and Political Confluence and others, show that it is essential to achieve this convergence.
Translation: José Luis Martínez Redondo

See also further articles on the Spanish elections:

What’s going on in Spain
By Martin Lucea
Commons conquer Barcelona! A victory for David over Goliath
By Mayo Fuster Morell