European Elections in Spain Podemos
Pablo Iglesias

On May 25th, European elections decided on the future 751 Members of European Parliament. The election is unique and have contributed to enhancing the emergence of extreme right groups as well as the weakening of traditional parties. 

After the 28 European countries having taken part in the vote, Spain shares an interesting case given, it is a country affected by unemployment, but in the same time, without benefit of a strong extreme right party. In the contrary, the weakness of traditional parties like the People’s Party or the Socialist Party profits of extreme left parties like Podemos which created the surprise in the Iberian Peninsula. 

Thus, it seems to be important to analyze the Spanish votes and to reflect on the political class evolution through the European election. But also to forecast the future, in particular the relationship between the traditional and the new parties. 

The decline of traditional parties 

Since 1977, the People’s Party and the Socialist Party, which lead policy in Spain, got the worst result through history. Indeed, by achieving less of 50% of votes, they lost near to 5 millions of votes and almost 30 points in relation with the European elections in 2009. 

However, even the People’s Party lost 2,6 millions of  their votes, 16 points and 8 seats. Still, they seem to be satisfied by conserving the first place. So, in spite of the difficulty, Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, stays, being the rare PM on power to conserve his control through the European election. 

The People’s Party leader in the European Parliament, Miguel Arias Cañete avoids to show himself and to celebrate the result, but prefers to get to work and regain popularity. 

However, the Socialist Party got its worst result through history by losing close to 2,5 millions of votes, 15,7 points and 9 seats. In Europe, such parties got good results e.g. the United-Kingdom or Portugal. In Spain, the country seems to follow the path of France.  

Elena Valenciano, a member of the party claims  “a difficult result”. This is a strong disappointment because the Socialists have not benefited the collapse of the People’s Party. Also, the division through the party as well as on the vote can explain this score. The party dropped in Madrid and Valence, but recovered Extremadura. It stays strong in Asturias and especially in Andalusia, a region the party have occupied for a long time.

Consequently, the bipartisanship's fall moved the attention toward Cataluña and the minorities’ parties. In Cataluña, the participation increased which proves the sovereign’s rising. But, what is really interesting is the rise of extreme left parties.

The rise of extreme left parties  

The entry of Podemos with 5 seats is the great revelation of these European elections. This party becomes the fourth-largest political group behind the United-Left and appears like a signal towards the Socialist Party and the People’s Party.

This new formation is lead by a well-known character of television Pablo Iglesias coming from the United-Left. The party got 1,2 millions of votes with a clear message, criticizing the bipartisanship and attempt to get the socialist votes.

From barely existing three months ago to having 5 seats in the European Parliament, Podemos and his chief Pablo Iglesias is the party, which played the troublemaker.  We must also highlight, the good performance of Ciudadanos with two seats and the Primavera European with one seat. 

The whole electoral campaign has been done in social networks and by the spoken word. Those three minority parties has led a new light in the political landscape by suffering the regional parties, the United-Left (IU) and the Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), a party of the centre which want to defend a strong European integration.

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What is the forecast for the future? 

Therefore, the European elections results will open a new scenario before the municipal elections and the national elections in 2015. For instance, Podemos became the third political force in the Madrid community with more of 246 000 votes, representing 11,27%. Both parties UPyD and IU stayed in fourth and fifth place. 

Then, we can suppose that it will be an important stake on these next elections and a surprise is likely. But, we should not forget that in Spain, each Autonomous Community is very different. For instance, Cataluña, Madrid and Asturias are entirely different and follow diverging interests. 

In any case, the People’s Party has yet measured the current difficulty and tries already to campaign in order to keep an advantage over the Socialist Party. It will be tough as Rajoy has been in power since a long time and the appetite for political change becomes important.  

For the Socialists, his militants  gathered the 13th July to discuss about the future leader in order to take the succession of the general secretary Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. Two weeks later, the Party Congress changed the law and the Secretary General nomination at the provincial, regional and federal levels will be elected directly by their militants.

In summary, these European elections brought an important lesson and reflected the political class evolution. In spite of these changes, the People’s party and the Socialist Party keep the leadership for at least five years in Strasburg and Brussels.