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EDITORIAL

The Socialists deliver the first blow

Andalusian election results are bad news for the PP, but no threat to the two-party system

The results of the polls in Andalusia have awarded the Socialist Party (PSOE) a clear victory over its opponents, chiefly the Popular Party (PP).

Its results are frankly praiseworthy given that the political scenario this time around was more fragmented than the last (five forces are entering the Andalusian parliament, compared with three last time) and that Spanish socialism has been going through a long period of identity crisis.

Susana Díaz has also managed to hold back the assault from emerging anti-austerity party Podemos, even though she has fallen short of the absolute majority that would have enabled her to govern more comfortably.

What’s really relevant here is that the Socialists have won the first electoral face-off of 2015, while the PP has inaugurated the election calendar with a defeat

Though far behind the Socialists, the new emerging parties are demonstrating considerable traction. Certainly, they are far from turning the Spanish political map on its head as Podemos had claimed, but this force nevertheless has introduced changes to the left of the political spectrum.

Podemos has become the third-largest force in the Andalusian parliament on its first try, and by doing so it has bumped down United Left (IU), which had been the number three group in the regional legislature for nearly 30 years. It is also likely that Podemos benefited from new voters or voters who had abstained in previous elections.

Also highly relevant is the fact that Ciudadanos, a party with Catalan roots, has jumped into Spanish politics as a middle-of-the-road option with the ability to hold the balance of power in future agreements.

If Susana Díaz’s victory was not enough to secure a single-party government, the Socialist victory still represents a bitter defeat for the center-right Popular Party (PP), which has failed in its attempt to convey change with a new candidate, Juan Manuel Moreno. The poor showing reflects badly on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose efforts during the Andalusian campaign, as well as those of his ministers, have been in vain.

The PP has stubbornly resisted giving its government more of a political background and replacing burnt-out ministers – some people might call this attitude firmness – but this has not met with approval at the polls: the PP’s response to the problem of corruption has been insufficient, and the party has made acrimonious comments about its political opponents.

Though far behind the Socialists, the new emerging parties are demonstrating considerable traction

During the campaign, Mariano Rajoy insisted on the legitimacy of the top-voted party to govern the region. If this was his way of testing the political waters regarding the possibility of a reciprocal commitment from the Socialists in future elections, it is unlikely to work. In any case, it is too early to explore the way victory will be administrated and the options opening up for the person who holds the key to them all: Susana Díaz.

A new generation is taking charge of public matters, and there is evident citizen pressure for politicians to introduce changes to governing methods and to the way they represent voters’ interests. That is the message that the sovereign people of Andalusia have sent out, and the message that opinion polls repeatedly reflect in Spain as a whole. There is no doubt that voters want new solutions to the country’s economic and social problems without breaking with a democratic system that they manifestly still believe in, as demonstrated by the voter turnout on Sunday.

It would be completely wrong to assess these results as a confirmation of the crisis of Spain’s two-party system, as quite a few political sectors and media outlets have been obsessively insisting on. Andalusia, for starters, is a bad example, since the region has never even had a two-party system: the PSOE has been governing there uninterruptedly for more than 30 years.

What’s really relevant here is that the Socialists have won the first electoral face-off of 2015, while the PP has inaugurated the election calendar with a defeat.