Sunday, October 21, 2012

Regional Election Results For Galicia And The Basque Country 2012

I did toy with the idea of continuing wordless blogging and just post the results widget from El País. The results will start coming in after 20:00 Spanish time.

Both of the regions voting today belong to that select group of comunidades autonomas in Spain (along with Cataluña and Andalucia) that set their own electoral timetable instead of having a common voting day. Neither Galicia nor The Basque Country have made it through the full four year term, although the reasons for early elections are different.

The outgoing Basque government had no choice but to call elections after the Partido Popular withdrew their support for the minority administration led by the socialist Patxi López. The expectation for today's election is that 'normal service' will be resumed and that the nationalists will sweep the board, probably taking the first two places. A return to nationalist rule would probably have been the case even without the fall in support for the two big national parties (PP and PSOE) provoked by their management of the crisis. The legalisation of parties linked to ETA's political wing means that the full nationalist vote will be reflected in the results, unlike the previous election.

This will leave Patxi López free to become the 'continuity' candidate for national leadership in the PSOE when current leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba finally gets the message that he is not the future of his party. López will be in an even stronger position if the Catalan socialists get a drubbing in the forthcoming elections there. Carme Chacón almost beat Rubalcaba to the leadership but she will be damaged by a bad result in Cataluña. The next time a leader is elected there will be other contenders. 

The effect of ETA's continuing truce and the legalisation of their political wing changes the balance of power in nationalist circles. The conservative PNV has always dominated the nationalist vote but now they are in competition with a strengthened rival. The margin between the PNV and Bildu will be important for the balance between those satisfied with regional autonomy inside Spain and those who favour a push for independence.

In Galicia the reason for early elections is simply political expediency on the part of the PP. The party has decided that with the economic situation continuing to deteriorate and the with the threat of imminent EU intervention to prop up Spain's finances, there is less political cost in bringing the elections forward. The PP may even conserve their majority in the Galician parliament, the PSOE shows little sign of electoral recovery and the Galician nationalists have been in disarray. If it comes off, the PP will feel fully vindicated in their consistent strategy of putting the party interest before anything else. 

Barring surprises, the distribution of the vote may not change very much. What will be important is turnout, a big decline will be seen as something of a vote of no confidence in the big two parties. Some recent national opinion polls show them with little more than 55% support combined, when in happier times for Spain it would have been more like 80%. Some disenchanted voters will vote for the smaller parties, but many may simply opt for abstention. 

Then, with the elections out of the way, perhaps Spain's government will come out of hiding although Rajoy's administration seems to have decided that is the best way to weather the storm. The decision on whether to ask for an EU rescue doesn't just depend on the electoral timetable, but as with the case of Andalucia earlier this year we have seen that the PP has no problem with concealing their intentions for electoral benefit. No-one in that party believes in falling on their sword for the greater good, power and the opportunities it presents are too tempting. As for those who suffer the consequences of this, ¡que se jodan!

9 comments:

Colin said...

Graham,

putting the party interest before anything else.

Are you really suggesting that this is unique to right-of-centre parties?

Anonymous said...

Graeme,

I thought you had gone into exile...to France or Venezuela. But then again, Aguirre has left "active" politcs, Fraga is dead and buried, Spain itself will soon cease to exist, and Franco is turning in his grave. Perhaps, not such a bad scenario for you after all.
Moscow

Graeme said...

Colin, my point was a specific one about the PP more than a generic argument. A disastrous decision to delay a budget for the Andalucian elections and then, in the perhaps the most crucial point of the last few years for Spain, government effectively comes to a halt so that they can bring forward the Galician elections. I rest my case.

Moscow, I'm kept here because there needs to be someone to turn out the lights when the years of "structural reform" finally bear fruit and everyone else has emigrated. You don't seem to be volunteering, so somebody has to do it.

ejh said...

but she will be damaged by a bad result in Cataluña

Though why López is not similarly damaged by the result in País Vasco, I do not know.

Graeme said...

I can see where you're coming from but there is a difference. López was never expected to win in the Basque Country and his administration, whilst being very unpopular in that region, was very well regarded within the PSOE (and the PP for a while) in the rest of Spain. He wasn't expected to win this time either and has simply lived up to expectations. The PSC, on the other hand, is traditionally a contender in Catalan elections and hugely important in terms of votes in national elections. A bad result there spells trouble.

ejh said...

his administration, whilst being very unpopular in that region, was very well regarded within the PSOE (and the PP for a while) in the rest of Spain

This may be my point though, or part of it at least.

Graeme said...

I don't think so, I think it gives him credit at national level that he doesn't necessarily have at home. He can still play the hand of being the man who interrupted nationalist hegemony in the Basque Country. The expectation is that he will now become more involved at national level, although the way things are going since Sunday his biggest problem could be that he is seen as too close to Rubalcaba.

Anonymous said...

hey Mr SofW, haven't seen new posts in quite a while. Hope you keep commenting!!!!

Graeme said...

What would "quite a while" be? It's only 5 days since this one