Madrid’s Díaz Ayuso Is Not an Inspiration

Pablo Casado Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Spanish People’s Party leaders Pablo Casado and Isabel Díaz Ayuso campaign in the town of Majadahonda, north of Madrid, May 1 (PP)

Ben Hall writes in the Financial Times that Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s election victory in Madrid could be a template for center-right parties elsewhere.

I doubt it. Factors unique to Spain contributed to Díaz Ayuso’s success. In other countries, conservatives will have to strike a different balance. Read more “Madrid’s Díaz Ayuso Is Not an Inspiration”

National Implications of the Madrid Regional Election

Pablo Casado Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Spanish People’s Party leaders Pablo Casado and Isabel Díaz Ayuso celebrate their regional election victory in Madrid, May 4 (PP)

Isabel Díaz Ayuso triumphed in Madrid’s regional election on Wednesday. The conservative People’s Party (PP) leader vanquished her erstwhile coalition partners, the liberal-nationalist Citizens, and fell just four seats short of an absolute majority.

The expectation is that the far-right Vox (Voice), with thirteen seats, will give Díaz Ayus a second term.

The combined left won 58 out of 136 seats in the regional assembly. Read more “National Implications of the Madrid Regional Election”

Trumpification of the Spanish Right in Madrid

Isabel Díaz Ayuso
Regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso of Madrid, February 23 (Comunidad de Madrid)

Spanish conservatives hope the third time will be the charm.

In 2018, spooked by the return of the far right, they chose the reactionary Pablo Casado as their leader over the center-right Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría. Casado pulled the People’s Party to the right, arguing for a clampdown on Catalan nationalism, lower immigration and tighter abortion laws. Voters didn’t approve. The party fell from 33 to 17 percent support in the election and lost over half its seats in Congress.

In the next election, seven months later, Casado doubled down. He refused to attack far-right leader Santiago Abascal and proposed to criminalize Catalan separatism. The conservatives did better, going up to 21 percent, but they still failed to defeat the Socialists. Abascal’s Vox also increased its vote share, to 15 percent.

The lesson from other European countries is that center-right parties can never outbid the far right, which is always willing to go a step further. Moving to the right in order to shrink the distance between mainstream and far right isn’t a winning strategy either. It makes it easier for conservative voters to switch.

In Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso is nevertheless attempting the same strategy — and she might win. Read more “Trumpification of the Spanish Right in Madrid”

Spanish Tribulations in Multiparty Democracy

Pablo Iglesias
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias speaks at a rally in Madrid, May 20, 2017 (Podemos)

The rise of new parties on the left, right and center has created new opportunities in Spain: a left-wing minority government that usually relies on the support of Basque and Catalan separatists in Congress, but on rare occasions takes votes from the far-right newcomer Vox (Voice).

It has also created crises, currently in the regions of Madrid and Murcia, where the once-dominant People’s Party (PP) has called snap elections in a bid to shore up the right-wing vote. Read more “Spanish Tribulations in Multiparty Democracy”

Basque, Galician Elections Have National Implications

María Dolores Cospedal Alberto Núñez Feijóo
Former Spanish defense minister María Dolores Cospedal confers with President Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Galicia during a People’s Party congress in Seville, April 7, 2018 (PP)

Incumbents won regional elections in the Basque Country and Galicia on Sunday, giving a boost to Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and throwing more doubt on the confrontational strategy of his conservative opponent, Pablo Casado.

The Basque Nationalist Party, which supports Sánchez’ minority left-wing government in Congress, posted its best result since 1984 with 39 percent of the votes.

In Galicia, the popular center-right governor, Albert Núñez Feijóo, won a fourth term with 48 percent support, the same share as in the 2016. The left-wing Galician Nationalist Bloc went up from 8 to 24 percent at the expense of other left-wing and regional parties. It doesn’t always support Sánchez in Congress but did back his investiture in January. Read more “Basque, Galician Elections Have National Implications”

No Party or Bloc Wins Majority in Spain

  • Neither the left nor the right has won a majority in Spain. Catalan and other regional parties will hold the balance of power in the new Congress.
  • The only options for a majority government are a grand coalition of the center-left Socialists (PSOE) and center-right People’s Party (PP), which has never been tried, or a coalition of left-wing and regional parties.
  • The Socialists remain the largest party, although they are down three seats. This will be a disappointment to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who called the election in hopes of breaking the deadlock in Congress.
  • He is expected to try to form a minority government. Read more “No Party or Bloc Wins Majority in Spain”

Spanish Center-Right Makes the Same Mistake Again

Pablo Casado
Spain’s Pablo Casado attends a meeting with other European conservative party leaders in Brussels, June 30 (EPP)

Spain’s center-right parties haven’t learned anything from the last election.

When they tried to outflank the far right, it only helped Vox. The neo-Francoist party got 10 percent support then and polls as high as 15 percent now. And still the mainstream parties try to best it.

This is hopeless. Vox is always willing to go a step further. Read more “Spanish Center-Right Makes the Same Mistake Again”

Conservatives Put Party Before Country. They’ve Harmed Both

Mariano Rajoy
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy looks out the window of a cable car in Sóller, Majorca, June 22, 2016 (PP)

Center-right leaders in Britain, Spain and the United States have put the interests of their parties ahead of the good of their countries. Both their parties and their countries have suffered as a result. Read more “Conservatives Put Party Before Country. They’ve Harmed Both”

Spanish Politicians Need to Come to Grips with Coalition Politics

Pablo Iglesias Pedro Sánchez
Spanish party leaders Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez speak in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)

Spanish politicians are still coming to grips with coalition politics.

Both at the national and the regional level, parties are reluctant to make compromises and blaming each other for making deals with different parties. Read more “Spanish Politicians Need to Come to Grips with Coalition Politics”

Vox Is Unreliable Partner for Spanish Right

Santiago Abascal
Spanish Vox party leader Santiago Abascal gives a speech in Valencia, February 22, 2018 (Vox España)

Spain’s far-right Vox (Voice) is turning out to be an unreliable partner for the mainstream parties of the right.

  • In Andalusia, where Vox won legislative seats for the first time in December, the party agreed to support a minority government of the conservative People’s Party and liberal Citizens but then made additional demands, including money for a program about Spanish colonialism and cuts to a fund that provides redress to victims of the Franco dictatorship as well as to groups that help immigrants.
  • In the Madrid regional assembly, Vox has reneged on its support for the People’s Party’s Isabel Díaz Ayuso and is demanding additional concessions to bring the center-right to power.
  • In Murcia, Vox is refusing to support a center-right government unless the party is involved in drafting its policies.

At least they’re up front about it in Murcia. It’s not unreasonable for Vox to demand something in return for its support. Except that every time it gets what it wants, it asks for something more.

The People’s Party and Citizens have themselves to blame. They shifted to the right in an attempt to outflank Vox and ruled out deals with the center-left. That has given Vox, with less than 10 percent support nationally, disproportionate power. It knows the mainstream parties have no alternative. Read more “Vox Is Unreliable Partner for Spanish Right”