Sun Nov 20th, 2011 at 09:17:40 AM EST
[This] sunday there are general elections in Spain.
The mood is weird. Everybody knows that the right-wing party PP (Popular Party) will win. In a landslide. But how big is this landslide going to be? Everybody says a huge majority.
[editor's note, by Migeru] The PP got the lead in voter intent in mid-2009. At that point both parties were tied at around 40%. The latest polls give the PSOE 30% and the PP 45%. However, the polls also point to a participation rate around 65%. Compared with the 2008 results (73% participation, 44% PSOE and 40% PP out of votes cast with 11 and 10 million votes respectively) this means that between nearly three million voters will sit it out, that the PP will gain less than half a million votes and that the PSOE vote will collapse to under 7 million votes, below its 2000 result. Also, the combined PPSOE vote will go from 61% of eligible voters to 49%. About 700,000 people more than in 2008 will vote for third parties. In terms of seats, out of a 350-seat parliament the move will be from 169 PSOE and 154 PP to maybe 195 PP and as little as 110 PSOE.
So is there anything to see?
Well, maybe the victory is shorter than expected. This is something to see. Alternatively, you can also check if all the polls are right and it will be huge loss for the social-democrats PSOE.
There is another little thing you can check: how the small parties will perform.
So here is a brief description of PP and PSOE positions and the small parties. Be aware, though, that the left is basically in the streets shouting "do not vote PPSOE". Unfortunately, all polls suggest that this is the sociological left, the one in the streets, you know.
[editor's note, by Migeru] Winning list by district:
fontpaged with minor edit - Nomad
The next president will be Mariano Rajoy, by default. Leader of the right-wing party for more than 8 years.He lost the last two elections. His future economic minister will probably be Cristobal Montoro. He has the same basic ideas as the german elite. So he will happily apply the mother of all fiscal contractions. Madrid is full of gossip about sending a message that Spain is with Germany, deflation and all.
It is highly probable that the PP rulers believe austerity and recession is what Spain needs. First, because it will keep the ECB and Germany happy, and second, second because...well because in right-wing world fiscal consolidations do not generate unemployment. We all know unemployment comes from unions and high wages... and maybe lack of credit. Keynesian multipliers be damned. Oh I forgot, and the labour market, of course, the labour market, which is certainly disfunctional but the noises are that they will follow the PSOE path making it more disfunctional. As we say in Spain, va a ser la leche.
[editor's note, by Migeru] There are, in fact, rumours that the first thing Rajoy intends to do after the elections is attempt to strike a deal with Merkel: brutal and swift austerity in exchange for liquidity. I have seen this theory put forward from two very different sources, both blogs. The fist is vozpopuli.com a right wing online publication.
The alternative being considered in the PP hearquarters is of a secret Rajoy-Merkel pact, which in essence would put Spain under a sort of German "protectorate" during the first part of Rajoy's tenure "lend me a hand, Frau Merkel, keep the ECB's liquidity bar open for me so Spanish banks and Cajas can help themselves to their hearts' content, and I commit to immediately set in motion those deep reforms, even without anesthesia, which will take Spain out of the markets' limelight”.The second is El Pais, disparagingly called "the Social Democratic newspaper" by former social democrats.
an eventual PP government would, rather than try to coordinate with Italy, Greece or Portugal (or even France), try to take advantage of its ideological affinity with Merkel to, with the announcement of a sweeping programme of structural reforms and public expenditure cuts to meet the deficit objectives, sprint towards Berlin to establish the terms of a great pact: austerity and reforms in exchange for liquidity. The idea is that, while the reforms and cuts have their effect (in case they do) through productivity and (eventually) employment improvements, Germany and the BCE would give oxygen rather than strangle the Spanish economy, both as regards financing of the Spanish banking sector (with inevitably will remain "hooked" to the BCE for some time) as well as lowering the pressure on public debt (which only the BCE can undertake in this day and age, with its secondary market operations).If to so widely different sources carry the same rumour, there may be something to it. I think Rajoy is delusional if he thinks Merkel will go along with it, or that if she does it will be of any help. But, then again, he's the guy who just two days ago begged the markets for a respite of more than half an hour in recognition of the fact that he will preside a new government and "deserves" a honeymoon period.
The opposition is under the order of Rubalcaba. He was the interior minister during Zapatero tenure and, lately, the vice-president. He has been making sense all the campaign, talking about the ECB role and even about how austerity "alone" is not enough. This is the most you can get from a social-democrat these days:austerity is not enough. In any case, the constant sentence against him on the left-corner has been "why did not yo do/say/defend this while you were in power?" The end of ETA terrorist group has been his major accomplishment, but nobody cares anymore.
[editor's note, by Migeru] One reason why Spain has a strong two-party system is that it has a sorry excuse for a proportional representation system. The d'Hondt system is used, with relatively small constituencies (one for each of the 50 provinces, with the number of seats roughly proportional to population but skewed towards the smaller provinces. Closed party lists mean that people vote for the party, not for the people who will end up sitting in the parliament. The parlamentarians owe themselves 100% to the party apparatus. There are a lot of 3-seat constituencies where the natural result is 2-1 and a third party needs 25% of the vote to guarantee a 1-1-1 split. One of Rubalcaba's happy campaigning occurrences which he could safely put forward since hot even he expected to win the election to have to try and implement it was to reform the electoral system to introduce something like the German system, with a combination of open-list local constituencies for a more personal relation between parlamentarians and voters, and national additional seats to ensure overall proportionality. Sadly, this will be consigned to the bin of history as an opportunistic proposal to try to attract the gullible disaffected PSOE left.
And from there we go to the smaller parties.
The three large minor-parties are the ex-communist-left-wing Izquierda Unida (IU), the splinter social democrats with a Madrid-centered vision (Union Pueblo y Democracia UPyD), and the a brand new green party (Equo). I do not know much about them,nor how they poll or what gossip surround them since in Catalonia the left-wing and green go together (Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds ICV good polling) and UPyD has the field already occupied by PP and another small catalan party (Ciutadans CpC).
[editor's note, by Migeru] Izquierda Unida was the big loser in the polarization of the electorate that happened in 2008, and will be the big winner this time around, according to the polls. Between 2004 and 2008 the PSOE and PP gained 10-15 seats each and so the smaller parties all suffered. IU in particular ended up with 2 seats. This time around, they will get 8 to 10. Izquierda Unida and Equo have been vying for the indignado vote, but the 15M movement is actively resistant to being co-opted as a movement, while leaving individuals complete freedom. One source of conflict was the fact that IU absorbed with one of the old-guard green microparties and calls itself "Izquierda Unida - Los Verdes". Equo is a new creation. It's doubtful whether they will succeed in getting one seat in Madrid (3% vote needed). UPyD has been cementing its position after its success in the May municipal elections.
Regarding the small, really small, parties who may give a surprise by getting one or three congressmen I would count five of them. First, the animal rights movement is making a lot of noise (PACMA), the Pirate party (copyright issues) has a strong on-line presence in Catalonia, the Anticapitalists are fairly well organized around the country but quite never get through, the Empty-seat party (vote and we will send noone) is making a lot of noise arround the "indignados" movemenet and, finally, the fascist-racist groups are lately getting some media, voice and councils in some areas of Spain. Particularly, watch out Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC), the racist Catalan party. Yes, Catalonia has a bunch of small parties.
And finally, let's go for some interesting stuff regarding the natioanalistic right-wing parties in Catalonia (CiU), Basque county (PNV) and Canary Island (CC). They will all get representation, and all of them are keeping their votes or increasing them. There might be a surprise, though. Some polls suggest some movement towards the PP in all three areas (coming from left and right wing voters). Specially surprising is Catalonia where PP might be neck and neck with the CiU. If this is so, PP will win with a clear majority and will not need those parties at all. A pity since all of them share the same economic vision (PNV with some industrial touch). The key point, though, is the future discussion about fiscal transfers.
There is a large movement in some right-wing quarters to stop the demands of less financial transfers from Catalonia to the rest of Spain. Actually, a full recentralization is in the agenda given that the coming fiscal consolidation is a great opportunity to say that Autonomous Governments do not control the deficit. However, PP controls a lot of these regional government, and they badly need cash, so strong fiscal transfers will be needed from Madrid and Catalonia to the rest of the country (Basque Country has the right not to send fiscal transfers).. or there will be a lot of pain. Well, actually, there will be a lot of pain in any case, but changing the State structure is something that some PP members really want. The problem is that CiU is their natural ally, even if they do not need them. So nobody knows what will happen between two parties in full sync regarding austerity measure but with such a different interest regarding fiscal transfers. I t will be very interesting to see, then, the total votes of PP in Catalonia.
[editor's note, by Migeru] Outside Madrid and Catalonia, the big news will be in the Basque Country and Asturias. In the Basque Country, after the success of Bildu in the May municipal elections and the end of ETA's terror campaign a month ago, a new list called Amaiur is expected to get a really good result. Let's not forget in their heyday in the mid-90s the ETA-allied parties got nearly 15% of the vote in the Basque country (more heavily concentrated in Gipuzkoa around San Sebastian) and in the years when they were not allowed to run null votes were close to 10%.
As for Asturias, former PP bigwig and Aznar minister and one-time vicepresident Francisco Álvarez Cascos had a falling out with the local PP, formed a party and won the regional election in May, being able to form a government. In the general hey're running in Asturias and in Madrid. The name of the party is Foro (Forum)
Well... that is all, let us wait and see what Sunday brings.
[editor's note, by Migeru] The vote count can be followed live at http://www.generales2011.mir.es/ - results of past elections are at http://www.infoelectoral.mir.es/min/
Update: Total number of seats 350. Majority at 176.
[editor's note, by Migeru] Final results, with 100% counted: