Next Sunday’s local and regional elections in Spain could be an indication of what will happen in national elections due in December, with the right-wing Popular Party gaining ground against the socialist government in key areas.
The 17 regional governments and two autonomous cities have enormous power and budgetary authority over education, housing and the police. Twelve of those and two cities will be played on Sunday. In addition, the mayors of the country’s two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, will be elected.
Polls published on Monday by the CIS Research Institute show the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party is just 0.3 percentage points ahead of the right-wing Popular Party in the regional vote, compared with a margin of 5.14 points in the last regional election in 2019. The survey, conducted from May 16 to May 18, covered 4,549 adults across the country and has a margin of error of plus/minus 1.5 points.
The electoral campaign has been marred by attempts at vote-by-mail fraud in various smaller municipalities and the enclave of Melilla. So far 30 arrests have been made.
Political scientist Sandra Leon said the PSOE-led central government is having trouble convincing voters of its economic prowess, despite employment and political data that mean inflation and energy prices are among the highest in Spain. The PP is gathering votes for the Ciudadanos party, which has been disappearing, and appeals to disillusioned far-right voters.
“Although they are regional and local elections, they have huge implications for national elections,” said Leon, a professor at Madrid’s Carlos III University. “The Popular Party is gaining strength.”
The decision of the Basque nationalist party EH Bildu to nominate candidates convicted of terrorism and murder has also raised controversy.
EH Bildu backed down from the decision due to the general outcry caused by the inclusion of seven former ETA militia members, but it meant headaches for the PSOE, which has EH Bildu’s support for passing legislation in its support. minority coalition with the far-left Unidos Podemos.
In Madrid, the very popular Isabel Díaz Ayudo is seeking re-election to a third term as regional president with a populist program that positions her as a direct rival to incumbent government leader Pedro Sánchez.
Ayuso’s inflammatory statements about racism, abortion and his rivals are nothing new. He has said that “we could be worse off than the coronavirus”, that feminists are “spoiled who aspire to be lonely and drunk” and that many medical professionals “don’t want to work”. This has put him at odds with the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijo, who is trying to appeal to a wider range of voters.