A senior figure in Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP) is in La Nucia, in the southeastern Alicante province for the day. Foreign Affairs Minister José Manuel García Margallo is on home turf promoting the party in government in Madrid. The PP has dominated in this region for years, in 2011 winning eight of the 12 seats in the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. But in this election it is expecting fewer, on the assumption that the bipartisan political system in Spain is ending.
It's true that a lot of PP militants are angry with us.
The PP candidate for Alicante, García Margallo said: “The survey results in Alicante are no different from the rest of Spain. I think it’s a general trend. The four parties are in a tough competition. No doubt we will be the foremost party. We’ll see who places second, and what distance there is between us, and how much we can contribute to Mariano Rajoy being prime minister.”
Imploring the electorate to make their vote count doesn’t work any more. The voters are wary. The PP has been implicated in too many corruption cases in the Valencia region.
García Margallo half conceded before a room of faithful voters: “It’s true that a lot of PP militants are angry with us, and that many PP sympathisers have turned away from us, and that a lot of voters are unsure whether they will cast their ballot for us once more. And they are right. They’re right that there have been scandalous cases of corruption, but they are well in the past, and of minor importance.”
Party advocates stress reform work done by the Rajoy government in the last four years.
PP supporter Rosa Grau said: “He has made changes, and changes are good so that younger people, who have more doubts, are not drawn to other parties but will stick with the PP. I think we have to attract new voters.”
Our correspondent Vicença Batalla said: “In communities like La Nucia, the two-party system is ending, where votes until now have always benefited the two major parties. The way voting goes in places like this, for the PP in power or the Socialists in opposition, will decide the make-up of the next government in Madrid.”
The PSOE Socialists are counting on their candidate for prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, to stop their voters from defecting to the new parties. The Socialists are the main opposition to the PP, with four of Alicante’s 12 seats in Madrid.
Julián López, an economics professor, heads the Socialist candidate list here. It is the first time he is running for office.
López said: “Our expectations are that the PP will be the party most compromised by the rupture of bipartisanism in Alicante. Because here the PP was the politically dominant party and it has completely lost that dominance. We saw that in the regional and local elections in May. We think it will be the big loser and we hope that we will at least keep the four seats we have in the Congress.”
The Socialists have said their goodbyes to the system of alternating power ensured by each government’s successive loss of favour. They are open to power sharing, as has happened in the past in the city of Alicante and others in the Valencia region where the Socialists have governed with a coalition of other parties of the left.
Socialist party supporter Carmen Caplín says: “We have really succeeded the tripartite way here, and in many other communities, following the local elections. Whatever people say, it’s working well. Because that’s what people wanted, that the left govern. If we couldn’t govern alone, we can with others.”
But some are more sceptical.
Socialist supporter Concha Rovira said: “I don’t like it, but socialism is heading for a fall. I can’t tell if will be hard or soft. Right from the start, the party suffers from a lack of definition, the political centre being highly contested. There are so many formations in the centre. And there comes a time when you have to choose one side or the other.”
Polls say Spain’s political spoils will be divided up four ways, which has never happened before, thus ensuring a period of uncertainty in the days after the vote.