Saturday, March 25, 2023

Spain’s conservatives get a boost ahead of 2023 election

Continued on: Revised:

MADRID (AFP) – Spain’s conservative Popular Party’s resounding victory in a weekend regional election in Andalusia appears to have boosted its chances in national elections next year and undermined socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

The Popular Party (PP) won 58 seats in Sunday’s election in Spain’s most populous region – three more than the 55 needed for an absolute majority. This is the best result it has ever had in a long-standing socialist stronghold.

The Socialists won 30 seats, their worst ever result in Andalusia. It ruled there without interruption between 1982 and 2018, when it was ousted from power by a coalition of the PP and centre-right Ciudadanos.

It was the Socialists’ third consecutive regional electoral defeat for the PP after the votes in Madrid in May 2021 and Castilla y León in February.

Sanchez’s government is struggling to deal with the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has fueled inflation around the world, particularly through rising energy prices.

Socialist Party officials argued that the results of a regional election “cannot be extrapolated” to a national level.

But in an editorial, centre-left daily El País said one could not deny the difference in the electoral scores obtained between the two parties in Spain’s two most populous regions – Andalusia and Madrid.

It was “more than just a stumbling block”, it argued.

“This could be a symptom of a change in the political cycle at the national level”, it added. The conservative daily ABC took a similar line.

‘worn down’

Pablo Simon, professor of political science at Carlos III University, said this “new cycle” in which “the authority is strong” began when the PP won a landslide victory in a regional election in Madrid in May 2021.

He said it could culminate with the PP coming out on top in the next national election to be held in late 2023.

But Christina Monge, a political scientist at the University of Zaragoza, took a more cautious approach.

“The government has collapsed after four difficult years because of the pandemic” and the war in Ukraine, which has fueled inflation, she said.

Electoral Poster In Seville For A Regional Vote In Andalusia
Electoral poster in Seville for a regional vote in Andalusia Christina Quikler AFP

It refused to “draw a parallel” between Andalusia and Spain, arguing “there is still plenty of time” before the next national election.

Sánchez came to power in June 2018, when former PP prime minister Mariano Rajoy was removed from office in a motion of no confidence over the long-running corruption scandal.

The PP then suffered its worst results in the next general election of 2019, in which the Socialists won.

Sunday’s election was the first since veteran politician Alberto Nez Feiju, a moderate, took over as leader of the PP from Pablo Casado after a period of internal party unrest.

‘packing your bags’

“People are fed up with Sanchez,” Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the popular regional leader of Madrid’s PP, said on Monday.

“If there were national elections tomorrow, the result would have been the same and today he would have been packing his bags,” he said.

Until now, the far-right Vox Party supported the PP in Andalusia but from an outside government.

This time, however, it had said that its support would be conditional on getting the share of the southern region government.

But the PP’s commanding victory in Andalusia means it is now controversial: it no longer has to rely on the far-right party Vox to govern.

At the national level it may be a different story, said Pablo Simon.

A PP government at the national level that did not depend on Vox would be “impossible” because of the fragmentation of the parliament, which has many regional and separatist parties.

Nation World News Desk
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