Monday, May 25, 2015

Fragmented but clear victory of the real left in Spain's elections (updated)

The new Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau
The next Mayor of Barcelona will be, beyond reasonable doubt, the former leader of the Anti-Evictions Platform, Ada Colau, leading a nearly unitary left platform Barcelona in Common. It is possible that the same will happen in Madrid, even if the the PP is the most voted party, just barely above of Manuela Carmona's platform Madrid Now. In Valencia the PP also managed to get a narrow plurality of the votes, with the leftist coalition Compromís (alliance of federalist and nationalist forces) being a close second and a strong candidate to lead the new ruling coalition. 

In these two cases the PSOE, nominally a left-wing party but effectively just another lackey of the bankster mafia, will have the key, however the wrong decisions can cost them their very existence (the PASOK's example is mentioned often), as the voters are clearly much less willing to pardon class treason these days and the shadow of Podemos has grown very large.

Likely new mayor of A Coruña, Xulio Ferreiro
Other towns where the so-called Popular Unity forces (akin to Podemos and United Left but largely independent from them) have made a decisive breakthrough and will be able to rule, if pacts allow, are Zaragoza (Zaragoza in Common), Cádiz (For Cádiz), A Coruña (Atlantic Tide), O Ferrol and Santiago de Compostela (Open Compostela).

Another highlight is the change in Navarre, where the various forces vocally opposing the UPN (regionalist but allied to the PP and similarly implicated in corruption scandals) have managed to muster majority in both Pamplona and the whole of Navarre.

In Catalonia it must be mentioned also the important advance of the Nationalist Left force Popular Unity List (CUP), which will probably rule Reus among other towns. However the Right Nationalism of Convergence & Union is still very strong. What has collapsed in Catalonia is the support for the unionist forces altogether, which, barring a few industrial towns with high Spanish-ancestry population, obtains nearly nothing.

It is clear that change is happening in many cities and regions. However the overall reality of the many towns and regions is way too complex and diverse, with no clear trend other than a very clear slide to the left everywhere.

Some of the new 'popular unity' wins or near wins (source: Diagonal)

Follows a synthesis of the regional (autonomous communities') results:


The tories (PP) will be able to rule the capital's region (but surely not the capital city itself) by virtue of the likely support of the very similar maverick party Ciudadanos (xenophobic, posh, demagogic) as the hypothetical Podemos-PSOE coalition doesn't reach enough seats to muster a majority. However they have suffered massive loses and Podemos has become the third party with 19% of the vote. 

Sudden gloom of Valencian Mayor Barberá
Valencian Country

The PSOE will hold the key to governance and it is theoretically possible a left-leaning coalition made up by PSOE, Compromís and Podemos. However this party still has to make its decisions either in favor of a clear socialist agenda (that they lack in spite of their name) or in favor of the old regime. 


The PP barely managed to retain a majority in spite of clearly losing supports. It is the only region when it manages to do that. 


The PSOE holds the key to governance and is also the most voted party so in principle they should lead a left-leaning coalition. However, as it happened in Andalusia (with a caretaker government two months after elections) it is possible that won't get the support of Podemos (third force and 9 seats) because they are unable to accept their "red line" demands, such as not collaborating with banks involved in home evictions. 


The Regionalist Party of Cantabria, formerly led by popular moderate conservative Revilla, is the most voted party and will most likely manage to form government. Podemos and Ciudadanos only get weak results in this region.

La Rioja

PP retains a strong plurality and will probably rule with the passive or active support of Ciudadanos. Notably the regionalist Partido Riojano gets no representation for the first time in many decades.

Scientist-turned-politician Pablo Echenique
leads Podemos in Aragón

The PSOE holds here again the key to governance, even if it is the second most backed party, the third being Podemos. These two parties would need the support of the Chunta Aragonsesita (Aragonese Nationalist Left) and United Left anyhow to form a majority. Again it is unclear if the liberal politics of the PSOE and the socialist and participative ones of Podemos can be made compatible. 

Balearic Islands

Strong result of the nationalist left coalition Més (14%) and Podemos (15%). However the PSOE again holds the key to governance. 


The best result in all the state for the PSOE still leaves them short of a majority. It is possible but unclear that they form coalition with Podemos (not too strong in this rural region) or that they rule in minority with punctual pacts.

Castile-La Mancha

Pretty much like its neighor region Extremadura (see above). 

Murcian Country

The PP manages to hold strong, just one seat short of the absolute majority. They should be able to rule with the active or passive support of Ciudadanos.

Canary Islands

In spite of the strong advance of the left forces (PSOE holds, Podemos irrupts with 6 seats and Nueva Canarias grows slightly) and the huge loses of the PP, the regionalist right (Canarian Coalition) does hold pretty well and will surely be able to form government with PP support.


Even if the Northwestern Iberian country only held elections to town councils and provincial governments, the massive advance of the popular unity lists and the collapse of the PP in one of its traditional strongholds is very significant. The only nationalist force running on its own (others joined the popular unity lists), the Galician Nationalist Bloc, has also suffered, as has the PSOE.

Regional governance map after elections. Color-code:
PP-led right majority
regionalist-led right majority
left majority but including PSOE
left majority without PSOE

Basque Country

I would like to discuss later (update: done!) on in greater depth the issue of Navarre particularly but here goes an advance of the political evolution in the Southern Basque Country:

Uxue Barkos (GB) appears as
the new Navarrese President

After many many decades of UPN-PSOE effective coalition, these two old regime parties would not be anymore able to rule neither in Navarre nor in Pamplona. 

In both the Navarrese Parliament and the City Council of Pamplona an array of four political forces, each running separately but in agreement about the urgent need to replace the rotten UPN government add up to a narrow but sufficient majority. Therefore we can expect a coalition of Geroa Bai (Basque Nationalist Center), EH Bildu (Basque Nationalist Left), Podemos and United Left. Podemos has obtained in Navarre one of the best results of the whole state probably because its members and leaders were decided to make things change in the region and would not accept the intromission of Madrid. 

Western Basque Country

The Western Basque Country sees the consolidation of the right-wing nationalist (or rather regionalist these days) Basque Nationalist Party, which holds with modest loses in Biscay, advances in Gipuzkoa, where it will probably take both the provincial government and the mayorship of San Sebastian to EH Bildu, and loses in Araba. It also took the second largest town of Biscay, Barakaldo, to the PSOE, pretty much ending decades of "socialist" government in the working class and largely Spanish-descendant Left Bank of the Bilbao Estuary. 

The jeltzaleak, as the PNV followers are known, will need anyhow of the support of the PSOE, which experiences some but not overwhelming erosion, to rule in most power seats. 

The situation in Araba is however extremely complex with the PSOE having lost its traditional position as fourth contender to Podemos. However the stand of Podemos in the Western Basque Country is most ambiguous and anyhow EH Bildu plus Podemos plus Irabazi (expanded United Left) don't muster enough seats to form a majority. They would need of the PSOE but the PSOE just won't talk to EH Bildu, so the most likely end result is a two party coalition in minority led by the PNV. 


So in general: good performance of the real left, with some very significant game-changing highlights in cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and also in territories like Navarre. Still in most cases the PSOE holds the key to governance and it is very possible, considering its leaders and policies, that will follow the European fad of coalitions with the right. It is unclear however if this will pay off as for the PASOK in Greece (catastrophic debacle) or as for the PD in Italy (reinforcement at the expense of the right).

I suspect that the next move of the Twin Party will be to call snap general elections in order to allow for PP-PSOE coalitions nearly everywhere, without having to pay for that alliance against nature in the next four years. This proposal is what the controversial acting-Mayor of Valencia Rita Barberá has brought forth, apparently in order to defend her corruption and cronyism: a state pact PP-PSOE "against the radicals". At worse the elections are scheduled for October but I would not be surprised if they are moved forth to June.

It is also notable that there are major regional differences: in some areas like Madrid, Aragón, Navarre, Galicia, Valencia, Balearic Islands and some urban areas of Catalonia, the forces of change are clearly performing strong. The erosion of EH Bildu in the Western Basque Country is just mild and irregular, so it can also be considered a stronghold of the forces of change, as happens with Cádiz and the revolutionary stronghold of Marinaleda in Andalusia, where the CUT repeats victory after 40 years in power. However in Castile (various regions, Madrid excepted), Andalusia, Asturias and Canary Islands, the change process seems quite a bit stagnated, it must be said.

Because of the very rigged electoral system, which gives 2 base deputies to every province, before apportioning the rest on population, and 4 senators, regardless of population, these largely rural and underdeveloped areas of what is, in essence, Greater Castile weight heavily on how the Spanish Parliament will be configured, electing 156 of the 350 deputies: a clear majority that does not correlate with population. This clearly favors the bipartisan (Twin Party) system and is key to the deciding power of the social-liberal PSOE, which now occupies the center of the political spectrum.

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Note: for full details you may want to check a page like this one of the newspaper Público, which I used as partial source.

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