Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cuando Gobierne Bajará El Paro

5778100 and still rising. 1737900 households where nobody is working. Unemployment in Spain is above 25% for the first time ever and it would be churlish not to acknowledge the key role played by that important labour market reform we got earlier this year. Still, with temporary contracts only taking around 90% of those few new jobs being created, there's clearly still everything to play for.

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!