Good News for the Left in Andalucía; Bad News for Democracy in Spain

February 21, 2013 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The southern most region of Spain, Andalucía, has always been a socialist fiefdom but the centre right Partido Popular (PP) came very close to toppling the socialist PSOE party from power in the 2012 regional elections.



Now nearly a year on the opinion polls put the PSOE firmly back in the lead. The socialists account for 38 per cent of the votes, four more than the PP. This level of support would not allow PSOE to govern on its own; it would still need the backing of the far left Izquierda Unida in a coalition – the exact formation that governs Andalucía now.



These are the conclusions of a study by Capdea – part of the University of Granada – that shows the national collapse of support for the PP in Andalucía and elsewhere in Spain.



This dramatic collapse, after the November 2011 general election triumph, was first brought on by the PP’s mishandling of the financial crisis. Add to that recent major corruption scandals engulfing the party at the highest levels. However Capdea took its soundings before the full implications of the Bárcenas corruption scandal became known. This fiasco surrounds the former treasurer of the PP after it emerged that he had secret overseas bank accounts and had made under the table payments to PP politicians. Without a doubt, the fortunes of the PP have continued to plummet.



The reason the socialists are back in front has a lot to do with the fall of the PP rather than any major backing for PSOE whose approval ratings are dire. Indeed, where voters have switched to the left they have chosen the far left Communist-led Izquierda Unida (IU) which Capdea says commands 14.2 per cent of the vote.



PSOE now has 38 per cent of the vote and the PP has 34.4 per cent. At the March general election, the PP took 40.6 per cent of the vote, PSOE 39.5 per cent, so both are down on that level. However the IU has seen a boost to its popularity, gaining 14.2 per cent of the vote.



So what is the bad news for Spanish democracy? The large scale rejection of main stream politicians, their parties and institutions which is not only dire news for them but also for the democratic process.



If Spaniards reject mainstream politicians, it leaves the door open for a modern day Franco figure to emerge promising to clean up corruption and offering stable, firm government.



Capdea reports that 46 per cent of those people questioned would not vote if a snap election were to be held; instead they would abstain. Indeed, the wide ranging survey shows the Spanish people’s disillusionment across the board with politicians, their parties and the major institutions. The only two to receive positive approval ratings were universities and the Ombudsman who battle on behalf of the people.



The overriding findings are a thumbs down for all politicians. Despite the socialists returning as the major party in Andalucía and the increase in support for the IU, 51.9 per cent of people in the region believe the PSOE-IU coalition is performing poorly. Only 23.8 per cent approve of its efforts. The PP, as an opposition party, is rated by 68.7 per cent as doing badly and can only muster an approval rating of 14 per cent.



At a national level, both the PP government of Rajoy and the opposition led by the PSOE are in serious negative territory. Seventy-one per cent of Andalucians rate the PP government as bad or very bad and 72 per cent rate the PSOE opposition of Rubalcaba as bad also.



In the Bárcenas scandal, Rubalcaba has called for the resignation of Rajoy because he is seemingly implicated. However, the PSOE leader has steered clear of calling for a general election for one simple reason: he knows that the socialists would suffer as badly as the governing PP. Spanish voters are rejecting both major parties leaving a vacuum in the nation’s democracy and that is very bad news indeed.



BÁRCENAS CASE: The centre-left Spanish national newspaper El País has made much of the case revolving around Luis Bárcenas.



El País has published secret ledgers that appear to show that Bárcenas was behind a slush fund at the PP, which saw thousands of Euros paid out over a number of years to high-ranking members of the party, including Spain‘s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. In addition, as part of the investigation into Bárcenas’ role in the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal, it has emerged that the former PP treasurer had up to 22 million Euros deposited in a Swiss bank account.



The PP insisted it broke off relations with its former treasurer in 2009 but it is alleged Bárcenas continued to receive preferential treatment from the party until this January with an office at the party’s Madrid headquarters plus secretarial support paid for by the PP. He was also being paid a monthly stipend by PP till the end of 2012. If that wasn’t enough the party paid Bárcenas’ social security payments. El País says this could only have been granted with the blessing of the Prime Minister and PP leader, Mariano Rajoy.


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This post was written by David Eade

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