Contributed by Joe Montero
Spain’s 28 April election defied the predictions of the pundits in many ways. It was going to see the rise of the pro fascist political party Vox and a route for the anti-austerity party Unidas Podemos (together we can). The emerging conservative Ciudadanos (Citizens) was going to do well.
So, what did happen?
Spaniards rallied to put a break on the rise of fascism. Although Vox still gained less than 7 percent, this remained within the limits of the traditional support base. The party has given a new voice to pro-Francoist elements that had always hidden in the Peoples Party (PP), which after all, the remnants of the Franco dictatorship had brought into being in the first place.
Vox has entered the parliament for the first time and has been able to use the highly gerrymandered system to get more representation that a more balanced system would have produced. it has secured 24 seats. Driving the change, has been the ongoing demise of the PP, weighted down by corruption scandals and a population turning against its openly neoliberal policies.
The PP lost half of its parliamentary representation. While Vox benefited, a good part of the traditional PP vote went elsewhere. Some of this went to the other rightist party Ciudadanos. But they did not do well enough to account for it all. A portion must have leaked to the Socialists.
It had relied on whipping up fear over Catalonia’s drive to independence, arguing that this would lead to the break up of Spain and ruination. It did not work. All it achieved was to this pave the way for the emergence of Vox.
The Socialists, known as the Socialist Workers Party of Spain (PSOE), benefited from voters wanting to hold the line against Vox .
With an incredible wave of big media backing, they were able to be positioned as progressive and green. They won 29 percent of the vote.
What is being overlooked in much of the subsequent commentary, is that there is a good indication that a significant part of the turn towards the socialists is not solid, and could easily dissipate. It is not firmly based on support for policies.
Even with this, not enough support materialised to form a majority government, to allow the party to be the new government in its own right.
Even though it benefited from the collapse of the PP, Ciudadanos, the other rightist party has failed to eclipse it and experienced a serious setback in Catalonia, the place of birth. The independence parties, especially the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), but also the more conservative Together for Catalonia (JxCat), came out on top for the first time in a general election.
Unidas Podemos had entered the election under difficult circumstances, given the systematic attack through barrage of lies coming from the monopoly media and involving the traditional parties.
Leader Pablo Iglesias and his partner Irene Monrero, who is also a Unidas Podemos leader, were labelled in front page headlines, as corrupt and unprincipled.
A proven conspiracy, asserting that Unidas Podemos has been funded by the Iranian and Venezuelan government, and internal differences magnified to present the image of a party in disarray. Key key newspaper owners, politicians, corporate representatives and specialist investigation and police units to fabricate evidence.
Exposure blew it all out of the water. But the damage was made. Unidas Podemos did not have the opportunity to recover before the election.
Although the loss was significant, it was far less than many predicted by many of the commentators. Damage was contained. Unidas Podemos is far from defeated, and remains on solid ground to move forward into the future.
The position of the PSOE remains fragile. The nation is still politically fractured and unstable. Traditional politics is not trusted, and people are looking for new answers.
To form agovernment with at least a semblance of political stability, the PSOE must enter into an alliance, with one or more other parties.
The power brokers and the big end of town are pushing for a joining joining up with Ciudadanos. The PSOE’s support base does not want this, and Ciudadanos will not enter into an agreement with the independence parties. Such an alliance is fraught with the risk that the fickle support base could be easily alienated and crumble away.
The alternative option is to line up up with Podemos and the independence parties. They have already signalled their willingness to talk about it. The Socialist leadership is reluctant, because it will bring pressure to offer some concessions on more radical social policies and to independence demands. The power brokers outside the parliament and the opposition within, will do everything to put a stop to it.
Whichever way it goes, the traditional two-party system remains broken. Governments face the prospect of not lasting too long. The same political and economic problems continue to plague the nation. These cannot be denied. They cannot be resolved by carrying on business as usual.
In short, very little has been solved. Spain still cannot return to the past of a comfortable two-party system. The same political and economic problems persist and call out for solutions, and there is no way to avoid the political crossroad that is approaching.