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Elections in Spain: "These results are the illustration of a punishment of the people towards their government"

Pablo Simon is professor of political science at Carlos III University in Madrid.

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Elections in Spain: "These results are the illustration of a punishment of the people towards their government"

Pablo Simon is professor of political science at Carlos III University in Madrid.

Le Figaro -. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez clearly lost the regional and municipal elections to the People's Party (PP) on Sunday 28 May. The PP obtained more than 7 million votes (31.5%) against 750,000 votes for the PSOE. How do you explain this tidal wave from the right?

Pablo SIMON -. It is obvious that there was both a dynamic of demobilization of part of the left-wing electorate and a dissociation of the allies of the PSOE in many territories, which facilitated the rise of this blue wave. If the PP obtained these good results, it is first of all due to the absorption of the center-right party Ciudadanos, which had obtained 1.8 million votes in 2019. But which has completely disappeared today . All his voters turned mainly to the PP, thus explaining the results of the right.

Moreover, the voter of the PP is very mobilized, like that of the right in general. In total, this right-wing bloc has 8.5 million votes, which is a very good result. I think that these elections are also the illustration of a punishment of the people made to Pedro Sanchez and to the PSOE. Most polls indicate that citizens value the political management of regional governments more than that of the central government.

What seduces in the political speech of the leader of the People's Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, that could explain this blue wave?

The encouraging results of the PP can be explained more by the disastrous political management of the government, rather than by an exalted speech by Alberto Núñez Feijóo. Above all, we see a punishment of the executive because of the alliances that Pedro Sanchez forges with other deputies of Congress: with Podemos (radical left party), Bildu (Basque independence coalition) or the Catalan separatists.

All these components played an important role and were a spearhead for Alberto Núñez Feijóo. This automatically woke up right-wing voters.

In his reaction speech after the results on Sunday May 28, Pedro Sanchez announced the holding of early general elections on July 23 next. Was this decision foreseeable?

No, we were still focused on releasing the results as the Prime Minister made that statement, against all odds. Many were surprised. It is true that the results of these elections have turned Pedro Sanchez into a lame duck, that is, he knows for sure that he will lose next July.

Faced with this irreversible situation, he did not have many other options left and it was probably the only one he could really take.

If the People's Party is shaping up to be the future winner of the general election, can it win without an alliance with the far-right party, Vox?

The situation is complicated because it is unlikely that the PP will be able to achieve better results now. The numbers also indicate that Vox is firmly supported by a section of the population, with around 15% of the vote and the polls have been flat for a while. I think that the PP has indeed gained in the votes, but it is dependent on parliamentary support from Vox.

Do these elections reflect a trivialization of the Spanish vote for the far right?

This happened before in 2019, when Vox won 12% of the vote. The normalization of Vox as an additional far-right political actor took place when the PP relied on them to govern in several regions such as Madrid, Murcia -in the south-east of Spain- or Andalusia.

Therefore, it's just the natural process that ended up taking its course given that the PP never considered other options, other alliances that weren't with Vox. The latter has been normalized and we see the result today.

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