Friday, December 18, 2015

Spanish Election, Intro

On the 20th of December, Spain goes to the polls to elect a new Parliament.

There are four main parties contesting the election, that occupy 4 unique spots on a particular political spectrum.

Two of these parties are "new" while two are "old". Two are "left" and two are "right".

Of course, it's more complicated than this, with nuance, but I am not here to be the be-all end-all of your knowledge of politics in Spain, I am here to keep you up to date on what is going on, and to provide you with an introduction to something you might not otherwise be aware.

PP is the traditional right-wing party. PSOE is the traditional left. The two parties have dominated since Spain's return to Democracy - excepting a short run by UCD, which was replaced in it's role as the capitalist party by what later became the PP.

Both C's and P are a big step to the left compared to PP and PSOE. Thus C's is much more centrist, and P is much more "far left". These are the new parties. Neither ran a single candidate in the last election.

P is equal to SYRIZA in Greece - in some ways - while C's is much more of a small l "liberal" party.

Despite that, you could think of both PSOE and P as "Left" and C's and PP as "Right".

PP meanwhile is mired in controversy about corruption, while PSOE has not come off without a bit of dirt either. PP is hated among many, but still manages a plurality in most polls.

Polls suggest the results may looks like this:

115 - PP
80 - PSOE
75 - P
55 - C's
25 - Others

There is a great deal of fluidity between P and C's and those parties may end up taking two dozen more or fewer seats, while the PP and PSOE vote seems more stable.

The problem is forming a coalition.
C's does not want to be the "Jr. Partner" in a coalition, and would likely demand to be treated equally, something difficult if they end up with as low as 55 seats.
Both PSOE and P refuse to sit with PP in coalition.

It is possible, then, that we could see a PSOE-P-C's coalition. This would be very unstable.

In the end, we do know a few things for sure.

1 - No one party will take a majority.
It would require a huge shift for any party to take a majority, and the only party that is really in any position to do is is PP. They'd need to convince people that all the 3 other options are so scary that they need to vote PP; difficult to do when you are scary yourself due to corruption.

2 - Coalitions are likely to be unstable.
This is not a guarantee. The most stable coalition, given everything, would be PSOE and C's. The problem is the polls suggest both parties are trending down. If, however, they manage a combined majority, they could form a government that could be somewhat stable.

Another interesting possibility is a coalition between C's and P. Again; this would require a bit of a shift from current polls, but it could happen. If it does it would indicate a true change in the political climate of Spain, as you'd have a government that completely throws out the old two parties.

On Sunday we will find out how things have turned out; and I will make another post to update you on the results.


  1. It looks like the only possible majority coalitions would a grand unity government of the PP and PSOE or a broad center-left government of the PSOE, P and C.

  2. There are of course other possible coalitions but all require depending on a large number of very diverse, extremist and/or regionalist (often fully separatist) parties which is a recipe for a government that takes weeks to form and lasts days!