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Sunday, December 20, 2015 5:42 PM

Spanish Election: Two-party Dominance Ends; Rajoy's PP Party Fails to Win Majority; Vote Buying Spanish Style; Fragile Coalition Possibilities

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Spanish Election Results

Mariano Rajoy may be the first leader of a country to be re-elected having imposed harsh austerity measures, but he will either need to find a coalition partner, or form what is likely to be a fragile minority government.

There are 350 Seats in the Spanish legislature and the results look like this.

  • People's Party (Conservatives): 122 seats, 28% of vote
  • PSOE (Socialists): 93 seats, 22% of Vote
  • Podemos (Eurosceptic, Anti-Austerity Socialists): 69 seats, 20.5% of vote
  • Ciudadanos (Anti-corruption, nationalistic party): 28 seats, 14% of vote

This result complicates things greatly. Many expected PP and Ciudadanos would have enough seats form a majority. Ciudadanos had been polling above 20% with Podemos sinking.

Like PP, Ciudadanos is very much against the separatists in Catalonia, and very pro-euro.

But 122 + 28 does not come close to the 176 needed for an outright majority. The socialists and conservatives could form a government, but how stable would that be?

PSOE, Podemos, and Ciudadanos could in theory form a coalition but huge philosophical differences abound. Podemos is eurosceptic while Ciudadanos is very pro-Europe. In addition, Podemos is open to separatist elections and Ciudadanos would never go along.

A minority government with Rajoy remaining in power is possible but that might not be stable either.

Two-party Dominance Ends

The Guardian reports People's party wins Spanish election but without absolute majority.
The PP and Socialists earned a combined vote share of around 50%, compared to the 70-80% in combined votes in past general elections. “The two-party political system is over and we are entering a new era in our country,” Podemos’ Iñigo Errejón said on Sunday as results began rolling in.

Podemos did notably well in Catalonia, suggesting widespread approval for its campaign promise to hold a referendum on independence for the north-eastern region. Preliminary results suggested a coalition backed by Podemos and Barcelona en Comú was poised to take first place in the region.

In order to be able to govern for the next four years, the PP will have to rely on other parties, suggesting a protracted process of negotiations lies ahead for political leaders.

Several scenarios are possible. The PP could form a minority government, particularly since Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said last week his party would abstain from a vote of confidence in order to allow the party with the most seats to govern. The scenario is a risky one for the PP, as a minority government could fall easily, triggering new elections.

“Reaching a deal between the Socialists, Ciudadanos and Podemos is not going to be straightforward ... but if the alternative is leaving the country without a government, the pressure will be on the parties,” Federico Santi, a London-based analyst with the Eurasia Group, told the Associated Press.
Vote Buying Spanish Style
Rajoy, 60, remains the most popular option with Spaniards over the age of 55, buoyed in part by his party’s consistent support for pensions. Even as his government was slashing spending for public wages, education and research, pensions were raised. Not only is this the demographic that is most likely to vote, it has also grown by more than a million people since the 2011 election, while those under the age of 34 years have dropped by almost a million.
Spain's pension promises are not sustainable of course, but getting reelected always takes precedence over everything else, including economic realities.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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