By Joe Montero
On the weekend Spain went to an election yet again. It was the second one for this year. In April, no party won enough votes to form a government. No coalition could be formed, and the nation went into caretaker mode for half a year.
Two blocked emerged. One with the tradition conservative Peoples Party, Cuidadanos (Citizens) and the openly fascist Vox (voice in Latin), which formed a coalition but could not get the numbers to form government.
The other block was mainly made up of the Socialist workers Party of Spain, which had the most votes, and Unidas Podemos (Together We Can) and the regional independence parties. They had the numbers, but the Socialists refused to join with Unidas Podemos, preferring to side with the Cuidadanos, who would not have a bar of it.
Critics said the socialist’s strategy would open the door for Vox to recruit from among the disgruntled seeking alternatives to the status quo.
This is exactly what happened on the weekend.
The Socialists lost three seats to go down to 120. Unidas Podemos got 35. It lost 7 seats. The indication is that it suffered most from the low turnover that saw a third of potential voters fail to go to the polls. The Catalan Republican Left took 13 seats. The Popular Party stayed gained 22 to get 88. Vox rose from 24 to 52 seats. These gains were mainly at the expense of Cuidadanos, which collapsed from 57 to 10 seats.
Despite the rise of Vox, overall the balance of forces has remained almost the same.
Under Spain’s electoral system a serious gerrymander gives great advantage to the political right, as it favours rural areas against the urban centres. Therefore the number of seats are not proportional to the percentage of the vote.
This result is nevertheless sobering, and this has pushed the socialists into finally agreeing to form a coalition with Unidas Podemos.
Socialists and Unidas Podemos agree on basis of a coalition government
Video from GBC News
At a press conference of the leaders of the two parties, Pablo Iglesias talked on a joint four year accord to form a “progressive government, which will create the best chance to block the emergence of the extreme right, work towards improving social justice and deal resolve the matter of the regional independence movements. He said the support of other political forces would be sought to join in the coalition.
The details of the agreement are being finalised.
It is now abundantly clear that the old two-party system has come to an end and that there is a polarisation of politics. This poses a clear threat. It also raises an opportunity to bring about positive change. This election has provided such an opportunity.
It all depends on how the accord is implemented and the continuing organisation of communities at the base.