With one week to go before the Spanish general election, the latest poll shows voters torn between allegiance to the country’s two traditional main parties – the Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists (PSOE) – and the desire for change promised by newcomers Podemos and Ciudadanos.
The four groups are predicted to share around 319 out of the 350 parliamentary seats contested in an election that will see the two-party hegemony that has dominated Spanish politics since the restoration of democracy in the 1970s disputed for the first time.
Yet despite a powerful challenge built on the message of generational change for a corrupt system, emerging parties Podemos and Ciudadanos have yet to fully break the dominance of the PP, which stands to win 25.3% of the vote next Sunday, and the Socialists, which are expected to take around 21%.
Despite the small difference in percentage points between the contenders, Spain’s voting system is built to favor the two most-voted forces
The latest survey conducted by polling firm Metroscopia between December 7 and 10 shows the PP consolidating in first position, the PSOE falling back slightly, Podemos gaining two percentage points to reach 19.1 percent and Ciudadanos sliding significantly to 18.2 percent.
Despite the small difference in percentage points between the contenders, Spain’s voting system is built to favor the two most-voted forces. This means that the PP could get around 109 seats, the Socialists 90, Podemos 60 and Ciudadanos another 60.
The 30-seat difference between the Socialists and Podemos, despite a gap of less than two percentage points between them, is the result of a system in which the province forms the basic electoral district, making the general election the aggregate result of 50 partial elections.
While seats are shared out quite proportionally in the bigger provinces, in the smaller ones the first two parties get a disproportionate amount of seats to the detriment of the others. This is a handicap for Podemos and Ciudadanos, which are particularly strong in the big cities but have less of a foothold in smaller districts.
However, sociologists note that the outcome of next Sunday’s election is still wide open as many voters remain undecided. Turnout is expected to be extremely high – possibly around 80 percent, as high as at the historic 1982 ballot, when a landslide Socialist victory institutionalized the two-party system.
English version by Susana Urra.