Rajoy Vindicated, Grows Party in Spain’s Reelections

Mariano Rajoy
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and members of his cabinet attend a session of parliament in Madrid, June 11, 2014 (La Moncloa)

The polls had it wrong. The ruling conservative party in Spain won a much stronger plurality than expected on Sunday with 33 percent support. Surveys had given it 28 to 30 percent.

Even more surprisingly, the mainstream Socialists defended their leadership on the left, beating the anti-establishment Podemos party into third place.

The polls had shown the two neck and neck with some predicting a Podemos victory over the Socialists.

In the end, Podemos won 71 seats, exactly the number it did in December, while the Socialists got 85, down by five.

That means there’s no real chance of an all-left government. Read more “Rajoy Vindicated, Grows Party in Spain’s Reelections”

After Six Months of Gridlock, Little Could Change in Spain

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 18, 2014
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 18, 2014 (EPP)

It’s hard to write anything new about Spain’s elections today. Six months after the last one, it looks like we’ll be back where we started when all the votes have been counted.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservatives are almost certain to remain the largest party but will — if the polls are correct — once again fall short of a majority. A center-right coalition with the Ciudadanos wouldn’t have the numbers either.

There is a chance the two parties of the left will find a majority: the mainstream Socialist Workers’ Party and the far-left Podemos, now in an alliance with the communist-led United Left.

Either way, the Socialists will hold the balance of power. They could either go into coalition with Podemos, probably as the junior party, or allow a conservative-led minority government to come to power. (They tried a minority government of their own with the Ciudadanos last time, but that didn’t work.) Read more “After Six Months of Gridlock, Little Could Change in Spain”

Spanish Far Left’s Influence Could Be Limited in Coalition

Pablo Iglesias
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias gives a speech in Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 21 (Podemos)

The likelihood that the far left will surpass the mainstream Socialists as Spain’s second largest party in the elections this weekend has brought international attention to the Izquierda Unida (United Left), a coalition of left-wing splinter parties that has joined forces with the anti-establishment Podemos. Polls suggest they could get a quarter of the votes combined.

The United Left hasn’t played much of a role in Spanish politics so far. To learn more about it, I asked Raquel Perez, the editor of The ANC-USA Weekly, which summarizes international news on Catalonia, about the influence it might have. Read more “Spanish Far Left’s Influence Could Be Limited in Coalition”

Pedro Sánchez: The Man Without Options

Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party January 30
Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party January 30 (PSOE)

The polls for this weekend’s elections in Spain have been pretty consistent. The results are likely to repeat the electoral stalemate of the last election, in December. The conservative People’s Party will be the largest, but it, and the center-right Ciudadanos, will not win enough seats to form a government. The only difference this time is that the Unidos Podemos, a coalition of the anti-establishment Podemos party and the far-left Izquierda Unida, would replace the Socialists as the second largest party in parliament. According to one poll, the combined left could come close to an absolute majority.

All of this is a nightmare for Pedro Sánchez, the youthful Socialist Party leader. He looks set to face a number of options, all of them bad for him and his party.

Sánchez will be the leader of the third party and no longer the leader of the Spanish left. He will have the power to decide who governs, but neither of his coalition options would please what is left of his supporters. Read more “Pedro Sánchez: The Man Without Options”

Rajoy’s Left-Right Narrative Could Crush Socialists

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015 (PSOE)

Spain’s ruling conservatives appear to have decided that the way to win back their majority in June is to lure right-wing voters away from the liberal Ciudadanos, who won forty out of 350 seats in the last election.

A campaign video released this week contrasts “the hope of moderate Spain” with the emergence of “an extremist alternative” that, according to People’s Party leader and caretaker prime minister Mariano Rajoy, would threaten the nation’s economy and its very unity.

The “extremist alternative” refers to the anti-establishment movement Podemos, which recently entered into a pact with the communist-led United Left. It rejects austerity in favor of stimulus and a redistribution of wealth, to be financed by higher taxes and the nationalization of industries.

The parties also support an independence referendum in Catalonia, something Rajoy has blocked since he came to power in 2011.

Polls suggest that the combined far left could push the mainstream Socialists into third place — and the conservatives hope that prospect will put a scare in centrist voters. Read more “Rajoy’s Left-Right Narrative Could Crush Socialists”

Rajoy Reiterates Call for Left-Right Coalition in Spain

Mariano Rajoy Pedro Sánchez
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015 (PSOE)

Spain’s conservative party leader and caretaker prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, reiterated his support for a coalition with the center-left Socialists in an interview with the Financial Times, saying, “A grand coalition would be the best thing for Spain.”

We would be many. We would have a majority. We could push through reforms. And we could work together at the European level.

The Socialists spurned Rajoy’s offer after the last election in December gave neither mainstream party an absolute majority in parliament.

It was the first time since democracy was restored in Spain that its politicians needed to form a coalition government and it did not go well. The Socialists made common cause with the liberal Ciudadanos but failed to win a confidence vote in parliament when the far-left Podemos party voted down the pact. Read more “Rajoy Reiterates Call for Left-Right Coalition in Spain”

Impact of Spanish Far-Left Pact Could Be Limited

Pablo Iglesias
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias appears at an event in Málaga, May 17, 2014 (Cyberfrancis)

Spain’s anti-establishment movement Podemos joined forces with the formerly communist United Left this week to improve its chances of besting the mainstream Socialists in the next election.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, prone to hyperbole, described the pact as “historic”.

It looks less impressive at a glance. The United Left won only two seats in the last election against 69 for Podemos. Reflecting this imbalance, the former will get one seat in the new coalition for every six won by Podemos.

The seats allocation hides the United Left’s true strength, though. It got nearly one million votes in December when Podemos got over five million. But it was punished by an electoral system that gives disproportionate strength to rural districts.

Analysts have calculated that an alliance between the two parties could have given the far left fourteen more seats in the current parliament. Read more “Impact of Spanish Far-Left Pact Could Be Limited”

Spain’s Socialists Will Have to Fight on Two Fronts

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12 (PSOE)

The failure of Spain’s Socialist Party to form a government of the center-left will force its leader, Pedro Sánchez, to fight on two fronts in a reelection campaign that now seems inevitable.

Sánchez proposed a coalition with the reformist Ciudadanos party but failed to win the support of a majority in parliament. Both the conservative People’s Party, which lost its majority in December, and the anti-establishment Podemos movement, which holds the balance of power, rejected the deal.

Unless Sánchez capitulates to the right and enters into a grand coalition with Mariano Rajoy, the caretaker prime minister, after all, new elections must be held in June. Read more “Spain’s Socialists Will Have to Fight on Two Fronts”

New Elections Expected in Spain After Talks Fail

Mariano Rajoy
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, December 18, 2014 (EPP)

Spain seemed headed for reelections on Tuesday when a final round of talks between King Felipe VI and party leaders failed to produce a breakthrough.

Polls suggest that new elections, which are likely to be held on June 26, would not significantly change the composition of parliament, potentially setting the country up for yet another prolonged period of uncertainty. Read more “New Elections Expected in Spain After Talks Fail”