On December 2nd elections were held in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain, and the result marks a turning point in the electoral cycle that starts now in Spain.
The decline in support for the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (the PSOE has governed in Andalusia since 1982, the first autonomous elections of the young Spanish democracy), the high abstention and the emergence of a new far-right force with 10.97% of the votes are new elements with which will have to faced in the upcoming municipal, regional and European elections.
Whenever the rise of the extreme right in Europe has emerged, the Spanish exception was pointed out since a right-wing party in Spain with sufficient strength that could be considered viable at the political-electoral level never existed. The extreme right was integrated into the Popular Party, which integrates various conservative families ranging from the classical Christian Democrat tradition to those nostalgic of the Franco dictatorial regime. Since December 2nd, after the Andalusian elections, this is no longer the case. The first electoral appointment of the new cycle that opens now and that will be going on in the next year announced in municipal, autonomic, state and European level, has seen a forceful entrance of Vox, a party of the extreme right which is comparable to the French National Front and that has managed to obtain 10.97% of the votes (in 2015 it had 0.45%) and 12 parliamentarians.
Five political forces have obtained parliamentary representation in Andalusia:
- PSOE (S&D) obtained 1,009,243 votes, 27.95% and 33 seats (in 2015 it obtained 1,409,042 votes, 35.43% and 47 seats)
- Partido Popular (EPP Group) obtained 749,275 votes, 20.75% and 27 seats (in 2015 it obtained 1,064,168 votes y 33 seats)
- Ciudadanos (ALDE) obtained 659.631 votes, 18.27% and 21 seats (in 2015 it obtained 368,988 votes and 9 seats)
- Adelante Andalucía (GUE/NGL) had 584,040 votes, 16.18% and 17 seats (in 2015 the union of Podemos and Izquierda Unida obtained 863,938 votes and 20 seats)
- Vox (far right) obtained 395,978 votes, 10.97% and 12 seats (in 2015 it obtained 18,017 votes and no seats)
Although the emergence of the extreme right may be the most striking element at the European level, there are several factors that mark the beginning of a new political cycle in Spain and will imply a challenge on short notice of the action that must be taken by the progressives:
- The right-wing party Vox, which is comparable to parties like the French National Front, has entered the Spanish political scene with force. Its emergence can be explained by the crisis of the Popular Party, hit by the scandals of corruption and internal struggles for the leadership of the party, and a nationalist reaction to attempt a territorial reorganization of the Spanish state, Catalonia, as a case in point. However, its electorate, with a clearly conservative profile from upper-middle income levels, has also be mobilized with an anti-immigration discourse and, to a lesser extent, against the progressive laws and measures regarding historical memory and Gender equality
Vox also enters inside the global trend of the rise of the far-right forces sponsored by Steve Bannon that combines an anti-pro-European discourse with a defense of the nationalist capitalist model. For now, Vox’s presence among popular sectors is marginal, but that does not mean that its future strategy does not rule out contesting those areas that have been affected the most by the economic crisis.
- Andalusia is the Bavaria of Spain, a region in which the PSOE has governed for 36 years without interruption, but social democracy has obtained the worst results in its history and has serious difficulties to continue at the head of the regional government. At a time when the Government of Spain is in the hands of Pedro Sanchez, of the PSOE, after a motion of censure supported by Unidos Podemos and the nationalist forces, all the alarms have been set off for a possible snap election, if the General State Budget for 2019 will not be approved.
- The sum of the conservative forces PP, Ciudadanos and Vox is a sufficient majority to change the Andalusian Government. Despite the poor results of the Popular Party, they can assume the Presidency of Andalusia thanks to the votes of the other two political forces. What they find most uncomfortable is how to present Vox’s support as something democratically acceptable, and from the different possible scenarios it seems possible to endorse support from the far right for a joint government between the Popular Party and Ciudadanos. Meanwhile, the media operation has begun to present Vox as a respectable political force with which concrete political agreements can be reached.
- The convergence between Podemos and Izquierda Unida, under the name of Adelante Andalucía, not only has not been able to capitalize on the attrition of social democracy, but has left almost 300,000 votes with respect to the sum of the result of both forces in February 2015. It seems that demobilization of the citizens (abstention has been five points above the previous elections) has been especially significant in the progressive bloc, and that we are also facing a reduction in the space represented by the forces located to the left of the Socialist Party.
However, the result of Adelante Andalucía is not negligible in political terms for a force that occupies the space of the radical left in Andalusia. 17 deputies and 16.18% of the votes are a good starting point to face a new electoral cycle marked by a growth of the conservative bloc with the presence of a new actor occupying the space of the far right.
The situation is a legitimate source of concern for the left in Spain. However, it is not the moment of hasty conclusions of a change of phase in the Spanish political scene. Next May there will be municipal, European and some autonomous community elections in Spain. The possible electoral advance for the Government of Spain is on the agenda for all political parties. The crisis of the regime is on-going in Spain but it depends on how the different actors of the political arena react in one direction or the other.