Mould-breaking election in Spain indicates four into two won't go

Mould-breaking election in Spain indicates four into two won't go
By Robert Hackwill
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From being a two-party contest for the last 40 years Spain has four leading contenders going into Sunday's general election, with two newcomers threatening the Conservatives and Socialists' chances of


How will the Spanish parliament’s 350 seats be shared out come Sunday’s elections? The result is hard to predict given the number of undecided voters, but one thing is sure. The political landscape is in upheaval, and no absolute majority appears likely.

Mariano Rajoy, outgoing Prime Minister, intends to renew his mandate, but with the small majority that the polls are giving him, he has already said he envisions a political pact to ensure the next legislature. But with who?

Rajoy will put that matter off until Monday. He refuses to think of a grand coalition like in Germany with the Socialists. Their candidate for the top job, Pedro Sánchez, blasted Rajoy on his balance sheet during a bitter debate last Monday.

The candidate of the Socialist Party, however, has not capitalized on the anger of Spaniards at cuts in social benefits and especially at the corruption scandals that have hit the PP during this legislature. The PSOE are also paying the price for the end of bipartisanship that brought it to power several times since 1982.

A new player on the right wing, Ciudadanos, seems closer to the PP as a potential coalition partner. But its chief, Albert Rivera refuses any coalition with either the PP or Socialists. Ciudadanos has also dropped a lot in recent polls and it would not provide enough seats for an absolute majority.

The fourth player in contention, Podemos, whose leader is Pablo Iglesias, is the party that has climbed the most in the polls since the beginning of the campaign. Podemos seems to have channeled the Spanish desire for change in these elections, the most contested in recent decades.

Polling analyst confirms Sunday’s Spanish election will be a game-changer

Isidro Murga, euronews:
“Euronews spoke to an analyst in public opinion polling Lluís Orriols, PhD in Political Science from the University Carlos III of Madrid. Mr. Orriols, thank you for being with us.

For months it has been said that the parliamentary elections to be held in Spain this Sunday will blow up the Socialist-Conservative bipartisanship in place since the Transition era following Franco. Is this confirmed by the surveys? Who will win?”

Lluís Orriols. Political scientist. Carlos III university:
“Yes, they confirm it, the latest polls systematically put the PP in first position. So we know, almost with certainty that the PP will win the elections. But for the first time in history the party that wins is not guaranteed to govern, there may be alternative governments.”

“Among the possible post-electoral alliances which is the most likely to succeed? Could we see a Portugal scenario, where a union of forces pushed the biggest party into opposition?

Lluís Orriols:
“No doubt, that is, if the PP manages to add its votes with Ciudadanos, the new formation of Albert Rivera, a pact would be possible, a deal for two, at least a parliamentary pact.

But if they fall short of a parliamentary majority, the absolute majority, it could be an alternative majority led by the second largest party in parliament.

This is why it is also important and crucial who comes second this time, because it is not guaranteed that the PSOE will come in second, even if the polls, for the time being, put them there.”

“The economic crisis, austerity, unemployment, corruption, independence movements… these are some of the factors behind the “earthquake” that electoral polls are predicting. But why did this take place now and not before?”

Lluís Orriols:
“In fact this has been happening since we had elections. Let’s say the breakdown of bipartisanship began to manifest itself in 2013 but it was only in 2014 during the European elections that we felt the quake. And the earthquake happened in the polls ahead of this year’s general election.

We had municipal and regional votes and there we saw clearly how bipartisanship collapsed. It could collapse again now or maybe not as forecast by polls. But all these elections were a prelude to what we will see in these legislative elections.
It is one year since we began to observe the collapse of our country’s party system.”

“Ciudadanos and Podemos will go from zero to place themselves among the biggest parties in the new Spanish parliament. What are the similarities and how different are the voters of both political parties?”

Lluís Orriols:
“The two are similar because both are channeling citizens’ anger, the disaffection towards parties and a political system that has disappointed much of the population. Therefore
both parties have this in common.


How they are different? Well, one specializes in the leftwing: Podemos collects citizen anger from the left; on the contrary, Ciudadanos collects it from the right and the center right. They therefore have a distinct ideological profile, although both share the fact of harnessing citizens’ anger.”

“Last Monday, we saw one of the tensest debates in memory between the leaders of the two main political parties. On Wednesday a youngster hit the Prime Minister in the face. How could this affect the outcome?”

Lluís Orriols:
“The debates will influence people to some extent, one can not exaggerate their effect, but there will be some effect. I think that Monday’s debate helped the Socialist Party
to distance itself from the PP and break the idea that the main parties are the same thing, that’s what the campaigns of Ciudadanos and Podemos trying to get across. So the debate on Monday helped the PSOE to mark its territory.

Rajoy being punched in the face had a huge impact in the news, but I do not really see any consequences beyond the anecdotal. If there is any impact it will be very small.”

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