Spanish Parties in Three-Way Tie for Election

Conservative, liberal and socialist parties are vying for first place in Spain’s general election.

Conservative, liberal and socialist parties are in a three-way tie for Spain’s general election next month, polls show.

A Metroscopia survey published in the El País newspaper has all three hovering just north of 22 percent support in a statistical tie.

A different poll published by El Mundo has the ruling conservatives ahead with 27 percent, followed by the liberal Ciudadanos at 23 and the Socialist Party at 20 percent.

Most recent surveys have given the conservative People’s Party around a five-point lead.

The party’s leader, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, waited until the last possible moment to dissolve parliament this year, hoping that an improving economy would give his party a fighting chance in the election.

After years of malaise, Spain is finally showing signs of recovery. Growth is expected to come in at 3 percent this year, one of the highest rates in the industrialized world. Business and consumer confidence are improving and the unemployment rate is coming down.

More than one in five Spaniards is still out of work, but the rate is down from a 27-percent high only two years ago.

Break or continuity?

Rajoy, who was elected in 2011 at the height of the European sovereign debt crisis, has urged voters not to change course now.

The Socialists, by contrast, want to break with the right’s austerity program.

Both major parties would need to go into coalition with either the Ciudadanos or the far-left Podemos party to govern.

Both would be problematic partners.

The Ciudadanos have so far maintained they will not join a coalition in any circumstance. Their liberal program also does not go well with either the People’s Party’s social conservatism or the Socialists’ interventionist economics.

Podemos is an anti-establishment movement with zero political experience. Unlike the Socialist Party, it is also Euroskeptic.