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Spain 2015: Can 'Podemos' end mainstream parties' duopoly?

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Spain 2015: Can 'Podemos' end mainstream parties' duopoly?


At the southernmost tip of the EU, the sunny shores of Spain could be hit by a strong anti-establishment wave generated by the country’s enduring socio-economic crisis. Held in late 2015, the Spanish general elections will most probably see the country’s upstart Podemos party challenge mainstream Spanish political players.

Created less than a year ago, Podemos – “We can” in Spanish – has already polled a surprising 7.98% in the European Parliament elections in May 2014. The left-wing protest party wants to renegotiate the European Union’s debt and deficit targets and restructure the Spanish debt.

On November 2, 2014, El País daily published an opinion poll which gave Podemos 27.7% popular support, compared to 26.2% for the mainstream centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and 20.7% for the mainstream centre-right ruling Popular Party (PP). The same poll gave Podemos a direct intention of vote of 22.2%, compared to PSOE’s 13.1% and PP’s 10.4%.

Podemos’ impact on Spain’s political system can already be felt: on December 2, Popular Party chief Maria Dolores de Cospedal said her party would consider an alliance with PSOE in order to form a government. The PSOE recently moved slightly more to the left to appeal to some of Podemos’ voters. The party has yet to decide whether it wants to risk losing voters to the left by siding with the PP, or risk losing moderate voters by siding with Podemos.

Could a PP-PSOE grand coalition appeal to the disillusioned Spanish electorate? Could it make them forget the corruption scandals that mire the ruling PP? Or could it be that the rise of Podemos shows Spanish society’s deep wish for alternative policy? The 2015 elections will probably mark the first time in modern Spanish history that the PP and PSOE’s combined support falls below 50%.

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