Updated 12:00 1st March
The abstainers will decide the day, seems to be the verdict of the press this morning. Although it's a common assumption that high abstention hurts the left more than the right the situation is a bit more complicated in two regions with an important nationalist sentiment. The PSOE is worried that the effects of the economic crisis in some of the more industrial towns of Galicia could cause some of their voters to stay at home, improving the chances of the PP getting the small increase they need to regain power. In the Basque Country abstention also threatens the ruling Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), one report I read this morning suggests they need a 70% turnout to ensure that they maintain power. This seems a bit over the top, as a level of participation this high hardly ever occurs in regional elections there.
An interesting analysis this morning from Ignacio Escolar on the possible consequences of today's election for the power struggle inside the PP, coupled with the ongoing fallout from the corruption and spying scandals. He suggests that if things don't go well for Mariano Rajoy the main threat to his position will no longer come from Esperanza Aguirre and friends.
The data released on participation up to 12:00 shows it to be about 4% down on 2005 in Galicia, but slightly up on the previous elections in the Basque Country. Could just mean that the Galicians have decided to wait until the rain stops....
One factor to bear in mind in Galicia's case is the overseas vote. If the election is very tight then there may not be a definitive result tonight, it could take another week to count the votes of Galicians living in other countries; mainly in South America.
Using state of the art methods of which I naturally cannot disclose details, the South of Watford Centre for Unreliable Electoral Forecasts has issued the following prediction for today's elections. A disappointing evening for the PSOE is in store as the PP narrowly squeeze home in Galicia and the PNV maintain their position as the largest party in the Basque Country and may even have a majority to govern as Aralar increase their representation. That's it, it will almost certainly be wrong.
It looks like I was right about the rain though, as participation in Galicia is now said to be above that of the previous election by a couple of percentage points.
The exit polls have the PP on the edge of an overall majority in Galicia, and the PNV winning in the Basque Country.
It looks very much as if the PP are going to win in Galicia, currently they have one seat more than they need for a majority and it has stayed that way pretty much throughout the count. I don't know whether the overseas vote can significantly alter that result.
In the Basque Country things are much less certain. Until about half an hour ago it seemed that there could still be a potential coalition led by the PNV, who are going to emerge as the biggest party. Then suddenly the PP seemed to leap from 11 to 13 seats and now there is a possible majority between the PSOE and the PP, with most of the votes counted.