Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has failed to establish a majority since the spring and has been forced to call new elections. But the results of this new election, which takes place on Sunday, should not solve the institutional crisis.
Spaniards return to the polls for the fourth time in four years. Six months after the April legislative elections, 37 million voters have been called since Sunday, November 10 in the morning to elect a new Parliament. Unable to form a majority, and therefore to govern, the Socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, hopes to seek a new term and put an end to endless political instability. The results of the vote are expected late evening.
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But all polls indicate that the head of government will not get a majority. If he should still win the vote, he will, once again, be content with a government that can not rely on members of the party and negotiate support case by case to adopt a budget or enact laws. Why is Spain plunged into a political instability that has lasted since 2015 and seems today inextricable? Explanations.
Because bipartisanship has shattered
Historically, Spanish political life has long been dominated by two forces: the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), a center-left social-democratic force, and the Popular Party (PP), which represents the conservative right. But this bipartisan system shattered in the parliamentary elections of December 2015.
Two new parties entered the Parliament for the first time: the Radical Left Power Podemos and Ciudadanos, a center-right liberal formation. “These parties were created in order to put an end to bipartisanship, which tired many Spaniards.They succeeded, but plunged the country into institutional instability”, explains Cyril Trépier, geographer specialist of Spain.
At 39, Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos, has long bet on the overcoming of the left-right divide, before righting his speech to oppose the PSOE. Finally, according to polls, neither the left block (PSOE, Podemos, Mas Pais) nor the right-wing bloc (Ciudadanos, PP, Vox) seem able to reach the absolute majority Sunday night.
Because the Catalan independence question poisons political life
Spain's second most populous region, with 7.5 million inhabitants, Catalonia historically makes it possible to make and defeat governments. Conscious of this stake, the PSOE and the PP relied on the Catalan nationalist parties to govern.
“They have long served as pivotal political parties for majorities, and in exchange, these forces have obtained transfers of powers from Madrid to the regions”explains Cyril Trépier to franceinfo. “Pedro Sanchez relied on them to dismiss the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy in 2018, but the Catalan separatists have blocked his budget and that is why the country finds itself in this situation “, Continues Barbara Loyer, geospecialist political scientist from Spain and teacher-researcher at Paris 8 University.
Now that Catalan nationalists have become clearly separatist, these compromises are becoming more and more delicate. How to govern while part of the Catalan separatists want to implode the monarchy?at franceinfo
This is particularly the case of the Popular Unity Candidature (CUP), the smallest and most radical Catalan separatist party that is running for the first time in a national election.. “Our motto is 'Ungovernable', summarizes Non Casadevall, candidate of the CUP for the province of Girona. We are going to Madrid with the intention of causing a short circuit in this system that does not work. We want to dynamite it from the inside. ” The goal is “to weaken the pillars of the state”proclaimed the president of the influential independentist ANC association, Elisenda Paluzie.
In this context, the PP and the liberals of Ciudadanos have continued to attack Pedro Sanchez on the Catalan file by urging him to suspend the autonomy of the region and to dismiss his separatist president, Quim Torra. Fearing that this crisis in Catalonia will favor the right too much, the Socialist leader has hardened his speech, removing any hope of negotiation of a way out of the crisis.
Because the left can not unite
Pedro Sanchez's PSOE could not rely on the left-wing Podemos party to form a majority. “Again, the two parties are very divided on the issue of Catalan nationalists, Podemos being in favor of a rapprochement with some nationalists”says Cyril Trépier. In April, Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, failed to agree to form a government and a new attempt at an alliance now seems difficult.
“Podemos is undermined by ego problems Pablo Iglesias is known to be a very dirigiste person”Says Barbar Rent. These internal divisions led to the split of the party with the creation of Mas Pais (“More Countries”), led by the former number two of Podemos, Inigo Errejon. What to fragment even more the progressive camp.
Because the far right is in ambush
The images of riots in the streets of Barcelona, after the conviction of nine separatist leaders in prison, have caused a lot of emotion in Spain. The far-right party Vox has made this anger against the Catalan separatists his business. Virtually unknown last year, the party won 24 seats in the April elections. A smashing entry into the Spanish Parliament in a country where the extreme right remained deeply marginal since the fall of Franco's dictatorship in 1975. Polls now credit this party of about 50 seats out of 350, which would make it the third political force of the country.
An ultra-nationalist, his leader Santiago Abascal advocates the banning of separatist parties and holds a very harsh speech on immigration. Vox is “the patriotic alternative” facing other parties “representing the leftist consensus”, he said recently during a televised debate. “For some voters, Vox is the only party to put a stop to the crisis separatist, analyzes Barbara Loyer. We must be aware that Spain has just emerged from the conflict with the Basque separatists of ETA and that it has traumatized a lot of people. “