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Recent Spanish Elections: Old Wounds Consume All Logical Thought!

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Most neutral observers of the Spanish political scene have the same reaction after looking at it for more than five minutes – “I give up”.

Not only is the country very divided, the explanations of its divisions fit into no category. But neither are they strong enough the form a category of their own, a “Spanish Scenario” – each new election, new government and new development are simply the calm before the next indecipherable mess.

The latest Spanish election, on November 10th, took place because the previous election, in April, had created a situation where the Prime Minister designate, Pedro Sanchez, wasn’t confirmed in his post but the parties couldn’t agree on any other candidate. Obviously therefore a clear mandate of some sort was needed.

However this time Spain followed the usual rule – if the politicians can’t agree what to do, the public won’t either, as someone called Theresa May might tell you.

The Socialists remained the largest party, but surprisingly lost three seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The party it failed to agree a coalition with in April, the left wing populist movement Podemos, lost seven. Therefore the two most obvious partners are further away from a majority now than they were in April, and the Socialists also lost control of the Senate, in which they had held a majority.

The mainstream right wing People’s Party, and Vox, the right wing counterpart to Podemos, made significant gains of over 4% of the vote each. But this actually harmed their cause, as the gains were made at the expense of the centrist Citizens Party, which practically disappeared.

Furthermore, both Vox and Podemos came into existence because their members couldn’t stomach the People’s Party and Socialists any more – the very things they agree with the older parties on are what also drive them apart, as each one seeks to be truer to their ideology than the other. So it is more difficult in practice to create coalitions between parties at the same end of the spectrum as it is between moderate parties of different shades, who can unite to keep the extremes out – provided they do a good job.

So what happened? The Socialists and Podemos, having lost ground at an election they caused by not being able to agree on a coalition for six months, have apparently agreed one practically overnight. Maybe the election result sobered them into coming up with something before it was too late for both of them. Or maybe neither party actually stands for anything anymore, and this is a dignified way of avoiding admitting it?

Divided up the edges

As the squeezing of the Citizens vote showed, despite its identification with the right, Spain is still effectively fighting its civil war. It is eighty years since Franco and his Nationalists displaced the leftist, but democratically elected, Republican government, so the war is not within the memory of any current Spanish voters. But it is still very much part of their identities—and the return of democracy after Franco’s death has not gone far in healing the old divisions, but left them peeking out from beneath a normalised overlay.

It’s the same everywhere – people tend to divide up into religious or........

© New Eastern Outlook