On 20 November Spain will hold a general election. This blog will cover it live from Madrid. This is the third preview post on this mid-economic crisis European election. (For the first build-up article, click here, and for the second, click here)
Lucha roja, ola azul (Red fight, blue wave)
The people are ready to have their say once more. Portugal and Ireland have already voted but the two most recent electoral changes, in Italy and Greece, were undemocratic appointments of ‘national-unity’, technocratic governments.
A detailed poll earlier in the month by the national Centre for Sociological Research predicted the Spanish conservatives winning 190-195 seats, with about 46% of the vote. The party in government, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE), has accused the Partido Popular (Popular Party, PP) of triumphalism. The poll forecast 116-121 seats for the PSOE (about 29% of the vote). They and their prime ministerial candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, know they are on the back foot and have chosen the election slogan:
“Pelea por lo que quieres” (Fight for what you want)
But should the PP and their leader, Mariano Rajoy, win, they will face the difficulties of trying to implement untasty austerity measures and any celebration at a possible landslide victory will be tempered pretty quickly by looking at the state of the country they would now head.
One in nine households has nobody working and the October unemployment figures showed 4.3m people out-of-work, the worst results for the months for 15 years. Spain’s borrowing rates are edging towards the Irish and Greek default limit. Speaking to young Madrid residents there was a sense of anxiety over what Mr Rajoy might do to Spain should his party win the 180 seats necessary for an absolute majority on Sunday. One Galician girl told me:
“I don’t like Zapatero [the outgoing PSOE prime minister] but Rajoy scares me”.
It seems that the winner’s hands will be tied for a good while by the constraints of the eurozone crisis. The PP have told us to:
“Súmate al cambio” (Join the change)
but with the single currency’s woes far from over, weak economic growth forecasts and austerity measures on the menu, the return to power for the PP after seven years in opposition will be announced not with champagne, but with strict sips from a poisoned chalice.
For live updates throughout the election weekend from Madrid: @cullennews