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POLITICS

Podemos edges ahead of Socialists in voting intention, CIS survey shows

Pablo Iglesias’s party sits 1.7 points in front of PSOE. PP remains top with 27.3% of votes

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is enjoying a surge in popularity. EL PAÍS

New Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos has managed to overtake the Socialists (PSOE) to become the nation’s second political force behind the ruling conservatives, according to a January voting intention survey.

The findings, released by the Center for Sociological Studies (CIS), confirm the end of the two-party system that has dominated Spanish politics since the return to democracy in the late 1970s.

If elections were held now, the state research institute estimates that the Popular Party (PP) would win re-election with 27.3 percent of the vote, while Podemos would come in second with 23.9 percent, and the PSOE third with 22.2 percent.

By comparison, the previous election survey from October showed the PSOE in second place with 23 percent and the PP securing 27.5 percent of votes, nearly the same as the new figure.

What is the difference between direct vote and estimated vote?

The CIS obtains its “direct vote” results from asking respondents the following question: “Supposing general elections were held tomorrow, what party would you vote for?”

Although this would appear to leave very little margin for error, researchers note that this method does not accurately forecast actual results at general elections, because a significant percentage of people reply “Undecided/No answer.”

That is the reason why CIS puts these figures through an estimation model that also takes into account who respondents voted for in previous elections and their opinion on political leaders and the current situation. This “estimated vote” is the main indicator used to predict election outcomes.

The voting estimates show even greater support for Podemos if statisticians only take into account the answer to the question: “Supposing general elections were held tomorrow, what party would you vote for?” In that case, which is known as a “direct vote” survey, Podemos would win the elections with 19.3 percent of votes, followed by the PP with 12.9 percent, and the Socialist Party with 12.4 percent.

The statistics reflect how the anti-establishment message delivered by Pablo Iglesias is taking many more potential votes away from the left than from the right, despite claims by the Podemos leader that his party is neither left-wing nor right-wing.

The meteoric rise of Podemos, which is just one year old, is being blamed on citizen disaffection with Spain’s political and economic elites, who are viewed as corrupt, self-serving and unable to effectively end the economic crisis.

The anti-austerity party has promised to sweep this “caste” off the map at general elections scheduled for later this year, and to return political power to the people. Its rivals portray Podemos leaders as populist and unprepared to lead the country.

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