Regional and municipal elections were held in Spain on May 22, 2011. I previewed all the races in a preview post earlier this week. These elections, a key test for the parties a year out from general elections, came at a bad time for Spain and its Socialist government. Spain is crumbling under 20% unemployment, a huge deficit and teetering on the verge of total bankruptcy. The government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is very unpopular and trails the opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) by a huge margin in all opinion polls. Zapatero’s retirement ahead of the general elections due in a year could help the PSOE, but for now the Socialist’s situation is extremely poor.
These elections are also held in the wake of a large, youth-led popular mobilization called either “15-M”, los indignados or the “#spanishrevolution”. The crux of these protests are the unpopular austerity programs and massive youth unemployment (45% with u-25), but the protests also evoke frustration at Spain’s entrenched two-party system, the electoral system and pervasive corruption on both sides. Spain has always had high unemployment, with the usually impressive 20% unemployment levels being not all that abnormal in Spain since the 1970s; as well as low growth rates even when the economy was doing well. These indicates bottlenecks in the Spanish economy which no party addresses. The 15-M protests basically called on voters to abstain out of protest.
Surprisingly, 15-M’s effects on the elections are hardly discernible. Firstly, turnout actually increased by 2%, from 63.97% in 2007 to 66.23% this year. Perhaps the increase in blank votes from 1.97% to 2.54% are a side-effect of the 15-M movement. Invalid/null votes also increased from 1.17% to 1.69%.
Results of municipal elections, as given by the Ministry of the Interior. Only parties winning over 0.3% of the vote are included
PP 37.53% (+1.91%) winning 26,499 seats (+3,151)
PSOE 27.79% (-7.13%) winning 21,767 seats (-2,262)
IU 6.31% (+0.83%) winning 2,230 seats (+196)
CiU 3.45% (+0.2%) winning 3,862 seats (+475)
UPyD 2.06% (+2.06%) winning 152 seats (+152)
EAJ-PNV 1.45% (+0.06%) winning 882 seats (-161)
Bildu-EA-Alternatiba 1.39% (+1.39%) winning 1,138 seats (+1,138)
ERC 1.2% (-0.36%) winning 1,399 seats (-192)
BNG 1.16% (-0.26%) winning 590 seats (-71)
ICV-EUiA 1.07% (-0.09%) winning 398 seats (-53)
PA 1.02% (-0.04%) winning 470 seats (-55)
CC-PNC-CCN 0.9% (-0.08%) winning 391 seats (-13)
BNV-CC 0.8% (+0.8%) winning 345 seats (+345)
FAC 0.54% (+0.54%) winning 158 seats (+158)
UPN 0.39% (+0.39%) winning 322 seats (+322)
PAR 0.34% (-0.08%) winning 992 seats (+9)
PRC 0.31% (-0.02%) winning 322 seats (+19)
Others 9.72% winning 6,304 seats
The UPN won Navarra. This is not shown on this map for the sake of colours.
The PSOE and PP have won roughly the same amount of votes and seats in all local elections since 1999. In fact, since then, both parties have been within 1% of one another. You need to go back to the PP’s 1995 landslide to find a wider gap: 4.43% separated the PP from the PSOE. This year’s gap, 9.74% is the widest gap in local elections since 1991. This marks an undeniable “blue wave” of the PP, which shows up very pronounced on the above map which shows the party winning the most votes by provice, unlike the Ministry’s maps which show the party winning the most seats by province. From this perspective, the sound defeat of the PSOE is pretty much undeniable and the victory of the PP is similarly undeniable.
But one thing which hasn’t been noted amongst the euphoria and Y-M-C-A singing hoolala at the PP’s victory rally last night is that the PP’s vote only increased by 1.9%. As we’ll in the autonomous communities, the PP’s vote did not increase by as much as the PSOE’s vote decreased and in regions where the PP was the incumbent most of the PP gains were modest if even significant. This is not to act as a Socialist stooge and grasp at straws to forget the mud you’re in. It is only an interesting observation which might say a bit about how the PP’s victory is not a win for the PP’s platform but rather a default win for the “other main governing party”. But before jumping too high, it is noteworthy to say that several factors might hold down the PP’s vote in these calculations. In Asturias, the PP’s vote dropped by 15.6% thanks to the concurrency of FAC. In Navarra, votes cast for the UPN-PP in 2007 were counted with the PP while this year only the PP’s 5.99% showing in the Foral Community shows up. It might be more instructive to look at what happened to the PP’s vote outside Asturias and Navarra where unusual circumstances were at work.
In 1995, the IU had benefited a lot from the PSOE’s rout and saw its vote increase from 8.4% to 11.7% between 1991 and 1995. The IU vote did increase this year, which was probably inevitable as left-wing voters who voted PSOE in the past voted IU out of protest at the austerity measures and so forth. But from 6.64% for IU-ICV in 2007, 7.38% for IU-ICV this year is a rather modest increase. It is worth remembering though that Bildu hurt EB-B and Aralar considerably in Euskadi, which might skew the figures around a bit. But there were no spectacular increases anywhere for IU.
The seat distribution seems to weigh disproportionately towards rural areas and small municipalities. Like France, Spain has a truckload of small villages with a handful of people living in them who are overrepresented compared to larger towns and cities. This plays to the advantage of regionalist parties like the CiU, ERC, PNV and Bildu which are strong in small villages but also to the PSOE’s advantage which is strong in rural areas of Andalusia, Extremadura or Aragón. The map on the Ministry’s website show the party with the most seats in each province, which, as you can see by comparing my map with theirs, plays out to the PSOE’s advantage in Andalusia and Extremadura but also to CiU and the PNV’s advantage. Note that in Euskadi, Bildu emerged as the party with most seats while trailing the PNV by 5%. Bildu, for example, swept the small villages of rural Gipuzkoa.
PP 39.72% (+8.67%) winning 30 seats (+7)
PSOE 28.98% (-12.16%) winning 22 seats (-8)
PAR 9.17% (-2.9%) winning 7 seats (-2)
CHA 8.24% (+0.09%) winning 4 seats (nc)
IU 6.16% (+2.08%) winning 4 seats (+3)
UPyD 2.3% (+2.3%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Governed since 1999 by the Socialists, Aragón saw a major shift as the PP’s Luisa Fernanda Rudi, former President of the Chamber of Deputies, led the PP to its best result ever in Aragón. With 39.7% against 29% for the Socialists, the PP did much better than polls had predicted – and the PSOE quite a bit worse. The PSOE was led by Eva Almunia, aiming to succeed Marcelino Iglesias, the PSOE incumbent in office since 1999 who was not running for reelection this year. The PAR maintained its positions but lost two seats, probably the fallout of the coalition with the PSOE since 1999. The IU saw its support grow considerably, from one seat to four seats.
The PP lacks four seats to form a governing majority, with the centre-right regionalist PAR as the key to any coalition. While the PAR has governed in coalition with the PSOE since 1999, the PAR governed or supported PP governments until 1999. Furthermore, relations between Socialists and PAR have deteriorated in recent years, rendering a new coalition of the two improbable. The most likely outcome seems to be a return to PAR’s right-wing roots through a coalition with the PP.
FAC 29.75% (+29.75%) winning 16 seats (+16)
PSOE 29.77% (-12.27%) winning 15 seats (-6)
PP 19.92% (-21.57%) winning 10 seats (-10)
IU 10.3% (+0.62%) winning 4 seats (nc)
UPyD 2.46% (+2.46%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Last night’s winner in Asturias was Francisco Álvarez-Cascos, the former Vice-President of the Aznar government, at the helm of a new right-wing party – the FAC – created after the local PP and Mariano Rajoy denied him the leadership of the PP’s list in his home province. Even despite the division of the right, the FAC came out with one more seat than the PSOE, in power since 1999 in this old mining region. More significantly, nearly 10% separated his party from his former party – the PP. IU held its ground, but gained no seats.
Nobody has the 23 seats necessary to govern, but Francisco Álvarez-Cascos must be counted to have the advantage. Unless relations between him and his old gang are so bad that they make any cooperation impossible – unlikely – then he has the upper hand given the overall dominance of right-wing parties.
PP 46.37% (-0.08%) winning 35 seats (+6)
PSOE + PSOE-Pacte + PSOE-GxF 24.86% (-7.65%) winning 19 seats (-1)
PSM-IV-Entesa 8.61% (-0.37%) winning 4 seats (-2)
PSMen-EN 0.89% (+0.1%) winning 1 seat (nc)
Lliga Regionalista de les Illes Balears 2.93% (+2.93%) winning 0 seats (nc)
CxI 2.84% (-3.89%) winning 0 seats (-3)
For sanity’s sake, I’ve taken the ease of grouping stuff together here. The PSOE result is the sum of three PSOE-led lists, including one in Eivissa (which includes smaller leftie parties) and another in Formentera. The sum of PSM-IV-Entesa is compared to the 6 seat caucus formed by the PSM, EU, ERC and Greenies in 2007 even though the ERC and EU ran alone this time (1.27% and 2.29% respectively). CxI, Convergència per les Illes, is the old Unió Mallorquina under new clothes.
The Balearic Islands are a right-wing stronghold, with the PP/AP winning the most votes since 1983. But relations between the PSOE and various left-wing Catalan parties and, until now, the centre-right UM have been strong enough to allow for left-wing coalition governments when the PP does not hold a majority. This happened in 1999 and again in 2007, with the PSOE’s Francesc Antich taking the reins of power both times. The issue at stake here was whether the PP could get a majority, which it did. With 34 seats, the PP easily won its majority and the PP’s José Ramón Bauzà will become the next President.
The PSOE fell back in all islands besides Formentera. The small left-wing regionalists held their ground well, compensating for the loss of ERC and EU since last time. However, the centre-right UM regrouped in the CxI was swept out. The small UM had been a kingmaker in the past, allying in the 1990s with the PP and since 1999 with the left. Its alliances with the left probably sealed its fate in a year like this.
PP 31.84% (+7.8%) winning 21 seats (+6)
CC 24.89% (+0.75%) winning 21 seats (+2)
PSOE 20.98% (-13.53%) winning 15 seats (-11)
NCa 9.08% (+3.66%) winning 3 seats (+3)
A little nightmare for the right emerges in the Canaries. The CC, a centre-right regionalist grouping, has governed in coalition with or with support from the PP since 1993. Even in 2007, after major Socialist gains, the CC-PP deal continued although the PP left the coalition after the CC supported the Zapatero budgets, making for a one-party CC government. Now, after the PP won its best result ever and the PSOE its worst result ever, both traditional allies – CC and PP – are left tied in terms of seats. The gap between both parties in terms of votes is 6.9%, but the workings of the insular electoral system allowed the CC – with its strongholds in various islands – to hold its ground in terms of seats and limit PP gains. But the tie in terms of seats makes for a tough situation. Paulino Rivero of the CC, in power since 2007, will try to hold on to power. The very moderate-regionalist CC is always key to governments, and while it leans with the PP since 1993, it works well with other parties when it comes to bringing pork to the islands. If bets were to be taken, the bookmakers would place their bets on the CC continuing in power – at least until 2012 – working with the PSOE or NCa.
The success of Nueva Canarias, a centre-left regionalist party strong in Gran Canaria led by ex-CC member Román Rodríguez, is the other notable result of the 2011 elections in the Canaries.
PP 46.12% (+4.66%) winning 20 seats (+3)
PRC 29.15% (+0.62%) winning 12 seats (nc)
PSOE 16.31% (-8.22%) winning 7 seats (-3)
IU 3.31% (+1.43%) winning 0 seats (nc)
UPyD 1.72% (+1.72%) winning 0 seats (nc)
The charismatic and popular Miguel Ángel Revilla of the regionalist PRC has been at the helm of traditionally conservative Cantabria since 2003, in coalition with the PSOE which fell behind Revilla’s PRC in the 2007 elections. The key to power in Cantabria is not winning the most seats – it is winning the 20 seats needed to form a majority government. No party has done that since 1983, but the PP did it last night winning 46% and 20 seats. These gains came entirely at the PSOE’s expense, which fell further, winning its worst result ever. The PRC itself actually did well, holding its ground, sign of Revilla’s personal popularity. The PP’s Ignacio Diego will govern Cantabria.
PP 48.13% (+5.75%) winning 25 seats (+4)
PSOE 43.38% (-8.57%) winning 24 seats (-2)
IU 3.77% (+0.35%) winning 0 seats (nc)
UPyD 1.75% (+1.75%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Castilla-La Mancha was the symbolic contest of this election and it was the race which stood out of all other 12 contests in the autonomous communities. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, Castilla-La Mancha has been held steadily by the PSOE ever since 1983 and until 2004 it was the stronghold of José Bono, one of the ‘regional barons’ of the PSOE. Bono had managed to hold on even in the 1995 landslide, largely because of his skillful play back then on water resources (at issue was sending regional water into Murcia). A feat made even more impressive when considering that Castilla-La Mancha has voted for the right consistently in general elections since 1996. The region itself has, like Andalusia, a big number of large land tracts which traditionally makes a region left-leaning. But landless peasants aren’t a problem in Castilla-La Mancha’s cereal fields, which employ only a few seasonal employees. This might explain why Castilla-La Mancha is traditionally conservative.
This year, the contest featured José Maria Barreda, the PSOE incumbent and María Dolores de Cospedal, the secretary-general of the PP. Barreda is popular here, but Zapatero isn’t. Who was to win? Cospedal, perhaps unsurprisingly given the region’s conservatism and the blue wave nationally, won. The PP won its best result since 1983, the PSOE its worst result. The election, played out by one seat, was won by the PP in Guadalajara, the most conservative and sociologically different province, where the PP emerged strong enough to break out of deadlock in other provinces.
Castilla y León
PP 51.59% (+2.42%) winning 53 seats (+5)
PSOE 29.61% (-8.12%) winning 29 seats (-5)
IU 4.89% (+1.81%) winning 1 seat (+1)
UPL 1.85% (-0.87%) winning 1 seat (-1)
UPyD 3.29% (+3.29%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Castilla y León is the old conservative heart of Spain, and has been ruled since 1987 by the AP/PP. Juan Vicente Herrera, the PP President of the region since 2001, was easily reelected with an increased majority with results eerily similar to those of 1995. The IU also made its return to the Castillian legislature, from which it had been shut out of in 2003 and again in 2007. The Leonese regionalists fell back by 4.5% in León, where they won 8.9% and were left with only one seat in that province. León, the PSOE base in the region and Zapatero’s home region, narrowly won by the PSOE in 2007, saw the Socialists fall back by eight percentage points and a full 13 points behind the victorious PP.
PP-EU 46.21% (+7.5%) winning 32 seats (+5)
PSOE-Regionalists 43.49% (-9.5%) winning 30 seats (-8)
IU-V-SIEX 5.57% (+1.06%) winning 3 seats (+3)
UPyD 1.06% (+1.06%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Extremadura’s large landholdings, big landowners and rural proletariat has made it a stronghold of the PSOE, which has been in power ever since 1993 and won less than an absolute majority only once – in 1995 – and even then it remained as the largest party. Extremadura was also the holdout of Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra, another PSOE regional baron who presided the region until 2007 when he was succeeded by the incumbent, Guillermo Fernández Vara. Winning by far its best result ever, the PP broke through to emerge as the largest party in this Socialist stronghold while the Socialists receded to their worst result ever. But with 32 seats, the PP falls one short of an absolute majority. The IU, shut out since 2007, returned to the regional legislature with three deputies holding the keys the power. If everything plays out as it should, the IU’s deputies should support Fernández Vara and allow the PSOE to hold on – by a string – to its old stronghold. It would be the only region out of the 13 voting this year with a Socialist president, and would be – with Andalusia and Euskadi – one of the three remaining Socialist autonomous communities.
PP 51.87% (+3.06%) winning 20 seats (+3)
PSOE 30.30% (-10.11%) winning 11 seats (-3)
PR 5.44% (-0.56%) winning 2 seats (nc)
IU 3.69% (+0.63%) winning 0 seats (nc)
UPyD 3.57% (+3.57%) winning 0 seats (nc)
La Rioja makes wine, but doesn’t make suspenseful elections. The PP’s Pedro Sanz has been in power since 1995, the year which the PP became the largest party. Sanz grew his majority by three seats and won the PP’s best result ever. The PSOE receded by over 10 points and won its worst result ever, being left with a mere 11 seats. The regionalist Partido Riojano, which has held two seats ever since 1983, held both of them but the PR won its poorest result to date.
PP 51.74% (-1.55%) winning 72 seats (+5)
PSOE 26.23% (-7.34%) winning 36 seats (-6)
IU-LV 9.61% (+0.75%) winning 13 seats (+2)
UPyD 6.30% (+6.3%) winning 8 seats (+8)
Esperanza Aguirre, a bigwig within the PP, was easily reelected in conservative Madrid but her share of the vote fell back by 1.6% after having won the best PP result in Madrid in 2007. The PP’s slight decline did not benefit the PSOE, which fell below the 30% and won its worst result ever in Madrid. The 2007 election had already marked a very bad Socialist showing, but this year’s rout made 2007 look like an historic success. IU held its vote, but the election was marked by the entry of UPyD, the centre-left liberal anti-regionalist party of former PSOE member Rosa Diez which won one seat in the Cortes from Madrid in the 2008 general election.
PP 58.82% (+0.30%) winning 33 seats (+4)
PSOE 23.86% (-8.14%) winning 11 seats (-4)
IU-RM 7.83% (+1.58%) winning 1 seat (nc)
UPyD 4.50% (+4.5%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Murcia is the most conservative region of Spain, a region where the PP’s support has only increased in recent years since gaining control of the region in 1995. The small and unremarkable region of Murcia has a lot of seafront properties and attracts much foreign residents from other European countries, which probably explains Murcia’s conservatism. The PP’s president in power since then, Ramón Luis Valcárcel, has seen support for his party and his majority in the Regional Assembly grow unchecked since 1995. This continued this year, as the PP won its best showing ever as the PSOE collapsed to an all-time low.
UPN 35.4% (-7.47%) winning 19 seats (-3)
PSN-PSOE 16.24% (-6.47%) winning 9 seats (-3)
NaBai 15.83% (-8.28%) winning 8 seats (-4)
Bildu 13.63% (+13.63%) winning 7 seats (+7)
PP 7.46% (+7.46%) winning 4 seats (+4)
Izq-Ezk 5.86% (+1.43%) winning 3 seats (+1)
CDN 1.48% (-2.95%) winning 0 seats (-2)
In a way, it seems as if the traditions of foralism and Carlism reared its head again this year in Navarra. Navarra is a conservative region, but it is not a Spanish conservatism in the Castillian sense which pervades here. It is rather a localist conservatism with regionalist backdrops, rooted in Navarra’s Carlist tradition and its attachment to the old fueros (Navarra still has considerable and unusual financial autonomy) which dominates. This regionalism, which has no inclination of any kind towards Basque nationalism, is expressed by the UPN. The UPN was the local branch of sorts of the PP until 2009, when the PP established itself independently from the UPN after the UPN supported the Zapatero budget. Proof of Navarra’s distinctive conservatism, the UPN dominated the elections emerging as the strongest force in the Foral Parliament. Interestingly, it lost 7.47% compared to the UPN-PP in 2007. The PP won 7.46% running alone…
Basque speakers make up between 10 and 20% of the Navarrese population and form an old minority pushing for integration in the Basque country. The Basque parties grouped themselves into one big outfit, Nafarroa Bai, in 2007. NaBai included the centre-right PNV, the centre-left EA and the left-wing Aralar and Batzarre. NaBai won 23.62%, a major success, in 2007. NaBai fell apart a bit this year as EA grouped with Alternatiba to form Bildu, a party with alleged links to Batasuna – ETA’s old political wing. Though NaBai lost considerably this year, all of its loses and more were to the benefit of Bildu, which emerged with 13.6% – a major success. The two parties weigh 15 seats and nearly 30% – probably a record high for Basque nationalism in Navarra. In addition to that, IU, refounded as a coalition of IU and Batzarre, won three seats and nearly 6% of the vote.
The CDN, the UPN splitoff of Juan Cruz Alli, finally kicked the bucket as it lost all of its remaining seats. Interestingly, the success of Basque nationalists renders a wobbly Socialist-Basque nationalist-IU coalition possible. All four groups have 27 seats to themselves, with the PSN as the largest party. But such a deal also had a potential majority in 2007, but it fell apart. It is even harder to replicate this year, as it would involve the PSN working not only with the moderates in NaBai but the more radical Abertzale nationalists in Bildu which is very hard to envision given how Bildu has been pilloried by all Spanish parties (and given the historic tensions between PNV and Abertzale). The more likely outcome is an unstable UPN minority supported or tolerated by PP.
PP 50.70% (-1.82%) winning 55 seats (+1)
PSPV 28.73% (-5.76%) winning 33 seats (-5)
Coalició Compromís 7.34% (+7.34%) winning 6 seats (+4)
EUPV 6.05% (-1.97%) winning 5 seat (nc)
UPyD 2.55% (+2.55%) winning 0 seats (nc)
Francisco Camps of the PP, in power since 2003 in conservative Valencia – governed by the PP since 1995 – increased his majority by one seat but the PP’s vote share actually fell back by 1.8%. There is apparently much corruption in the Valencian Community, which serves to explain why the PP went backwards when going forward almost everywhere else. Interestingly though, turnout increased in Valencia since 2007. The Socialists did not benefit any, as they fell below 30% to win their worst result ever. Coalició Compromís, a regionalist coalition which includes the regionalist Bloc Nacionalista (BNV) which was allied with EUPV in 2007, benefited the most as they performed surprisingly well with 7.3% and 6 seats. EUPV also did well, considering the loss of the BNV and other Valencian regionalist outfits compared to 2007.
Ceuta and Melilla
PP 65.20% (+0.02%) winning 19 seats (-1)
Coalición Caballas (UDCE-IU-PSPC) 14.34% (-6.58%) winning 4 seats (nc)
PSOE 11.65% (+3%) winning 3 seats (+1)
UPyD 2.65% (+2.65%) winning 0 seats (nc)
PP 53.93% (-2.07%) winning 15 seats (nc)
Coalición por Melilla 23.70% (+1.96%) winning 6 seats (+1)
PSOE 8.53% (-9.61%) winning 2 seats (-3)
PPL 6.82% (+6.82%) winning 2 seats (+2)
Ceuta and Melilla are conservative strongholds, and remained true to their roots. In Ceuta, the Caballas Coalition composed of the UDCE – the local branch of the IU – maintained itself in second place but did not win the sum of the 2007 votes of the UDCE and PSPC. The PSOE narrowly improved its showing. In Melilla, the CPM – a local ally of IU – kept a distant second as the PSOE lost over 9% of its 2007 vote. A new centrist liberal party, the “Partido Populares en Libertad” won 2 seats. IU’s surprising strength in both these North African enclaves seems due to the support of the Muslim minority in both these Spanish enclaves.
I had previewed the races in Spain’s ten largest cities in my preview post. El Mundo has also updated its fantastic map of all the municipalities, though they have a colouring problem with the PSdeG-PSOE in Galicia which makes it seem as if the Socialists won nothing there which isn’t the case. I’ll run through, with less detail than above, the main results. The reason I do this is because I don’t have all my life and all the results are easily accessible here.
In Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón (PP) won his sixth successive majority but saw his majority reduced from 34 seats to 31 seats and his vote share fell from 55.7% to 49.7%. This didn’t advantage the PSOE, whose 23.93% in the city is an all time low which reduced it to 15 seats. IU’s vote increased from 8.7% to 10.8%, but the major success story was UPyD which won 7.85% and 5 seats.
Barcelona has formed, since 1979, a sort of redoubt for the PSC in Catalonia which could count on the power of the municipality of Barcelona to counterbalance the CiU control of the Generalitat (until 2003, when the PSC won the Generalitat). It has always been the largest party in Barcelona and has ruled since 1979. So Jordi Hereu’s defeat last night was one of the major stories of the night. The CiU, led by Xavier Trias, won 15 seats and 28.7% (25.5% in 2007) against 22.14% and 11 seats for mayor Jordi Hereu’s PSC. The PP increased its support in the Catalan capital from 7 seats to 8 seats, and will probably form the support block for Xavier Trias. ICV, with 10.4% and 5 seats, also increased its support. ERC was the other major scalp in the capital, whose alliance with other nationalists failed to convince and halved the ERC caucus from 4 to 2 and from 8.8% to 5.6%.
In Catalonia, after a disastrous result (18%) in the regional elections of November 2010, the PSC did well (but not that well) taking 25% to the CiU’s 27.1% (which might/will begin to take the brunt of the tough austerity needed in Catalonia as well). It still lost first place to CiU and receded by 7%. The ERC (9%) and ICV (8%) suffered loses but did better than in November, as did the PP (12.7%). CiU also gained Girona, a longtime Socialist-controlled city, taking 10 seats to the PSC’s 7 and enough to govern with the PP (3). The PSC held an overall majority in Lleida and a plurality in Tarragona though CiU-PP has enough seats to govern there. It lost nearly 14% in its working-class Barcelona suburban stronghold of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (also Spain’s 16th largest city) where the anti-immigration PxC won 7%, but should hold power.
The PP won another huge majority in Valencia with 20 out of 33 seats. But Rita Barbera’s support as mayor fell slightly from 56.7% to 52.5% and 21 seats to 20 seats. The PSPV’s 21.76% is the worst Socialist showing ever, and reduces the party to a 8-seat rump. CC-BNV and EUPV, with 3 and 2 seats respectively, made their entry (or re-entry) into the local council.
Sevilla and Andalusia are the other major story of the night. Sevilla, the largest city in Andalusia, ruled by the PSOE since 1999, fell to the PP which won its best result by far. The PP won an overall majority, taking 20 seats – a net gain of 5 since 2007 (its vote increased from 41.8% to 49.3%) while the PSOE receded from 15 seats to 11 seats (and from 40.5% to 29.5%). Apparently holding up the PSOE since 2007 didn’t do IU any favours, as it too suffered with a loss of one seat (from 3 to 2) and a loss of 1.2% in vote share.
In the rest of Andalusia, the PP controlled 5 out of 8 provincial capitals in 2007 and was aiming to take the last three: Sevilla, Jaén and Córdoba (held by IU). It was not all that hard, given that the PP was the largest party in all 8 capitals four years ago. In the five it controlled, it held its ground in Granada, it won a majority in Almería, increased its majority in Málaga, though it lost support in Huelva and Cádiz. In Jaén, it gained 3 seats to win an overall majority while the PSOE and IU fell. In Córdoba, not only did it gain two seats to get a majority the governing IU fell into third with 15% – a loss of over 20% of the vote and a loss of 7 seats. A new party, Union Cordobesa, took second with 15.23% and 5 seats.
In the autonomous community of Andalusia, a stronghold of the PSOE which has been the largest party in all elections except the 1979 locals (where the UCD was the largest by a hair), the PP won 39.36% against 32.22% for the PSOE (lowest since 1979). I don’t know what to attribute this rout in the Andalusian stronghold to. It could be a mix of national situations and unusual regional circumstances (the PSOE is corrupt here). I would gather unemployment is at record highs in poor Andalusia, which was also at the heart of the construction/housing boom with all those condos on the beach.
In Zaragoza, the PP increased its support considerably from 34% to 41% and from 12 to 15 seats. But while the PSOE fell back by 11%, and lost 3 seats, it still has enough seats to hold on with the support of CHA (which held all 3 seats) and IU (which gained 2 seats to win 3 overall). The PP has no likely allies as PAR got routed, losing both seats in the Aragonese capital. In Huesca, the PP gained four seats and could govern with the support of PAR which until now supported the PSOE. In Teruel, a city led by a PAR-PSOE administration, the PP picked up 4 seats to win an overall majority and 12 seats while PAR lost nearly 10% of its vote and 3 seats (leaving it with 1).
The PP held its huge majority and its 19 seats in Murcia while UPyD entered the assembly. The PSOE lost three seats, and IU gained one. Boring.
In Palma de Mallorca, the PP gained 2% and 3 seats (for a total of 17). But it allows the PP to gain control of a city ruled by a PSOE-PSM-UM coalition since 2007. The PSOE lost 2 seats, the PSM held both while UM/CxI got swept out both (and finished sixth with 1.5%).
In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the PP gained 4 seats and 7% to gain control of the largest city in the Canaries, controlled since 2007 by a PSOE-led coalition. The Socialists lost a full 19% of the vote, losing 6 seats. Its ally – a local party (CPGC) defended both seats while Nueva Canaria won 6% and 2 seats (it had fallen 0.5% short of one in 2007). In Tenerife, the CC’s Miguel Zerolo Aguilar finds himself tied 9 seats apiece with the PP (which gained 3). He could hold on with 5 Socialists (who lost two of their colleagues) or 3 members from two local parties.
The PNV won its first overall majority since 1979 in Bilbao, the Bizkaian capital controlled by the Basque Nationalist Party since 1979 and mayor Iñaki Azkuna since 1999. Its 44.12% and 15 seats make for the largest success of the PNV in Bilbao. The PP placed second, with 6 seats – a loss of one. Bildu won 14.21% and 4 seats, while the PSE-EE lost 8.6% and won 13.47%. This is a record low even in the unimpressive results sheet of the Socialists in local elections in Bilbao. But while Bilbao has a strong PNV local machine, the PSE-EE is strong at other levels: it won 36.78% in the 2008 general election. A fourth place showing is disastrous by any measure for the Socialists here.
The story in Euskadi is the success of Bildu, the new Abertzale (the ‘patriotic left’, or leftie Basque nationalists) party composed of EA, Alternatiba and some will say Batasuna, reformed ETA militants and other unsavoury types. Bildu, however, has pretty publicly renounced both violence and ETA and there is little danger that Bildu is anything close to a new political front for ETA. A belief shared even by Socialists such as Lehendakari Patxi Lopez. Bildu won 25.45% of the vote, one of the strongest showings for any abertzale party in Euskadi. The PNV won 30.05%, 1% less than in 2007. The Socialists lost 8.1% and won a distant third with 16.34% while the PP lost 2% and won 13.53% (the lowest for the PP since 1991 in any election). Bildu won 953 councillors against 872 for the PNV. It won 96 municipalities in Euskadi, including 74 with a majority. PNV won 97, 59 with a majority. These results, giving over 58% to Basque nationalists, is certainly a success given how the Basque nationalist option seemingly fell back in 2008 (the PNV came second to the Socialists in Euskadi) and 2009 (the PNV lost control of the Basque government in favour of a PSE-PP pact).
Bildu’s eruption is a sign of the continued strength of the abertzale left and how strong it can be when it is allowed to participate. It is also, perhaps, in part a reaction to the way the Spanish state has pilloried the abertzale outfits in recent years (banning most of them) and a strong vote against the Lopez regional government which is apparently unpopular. My guess, uneducated, is that the pact between the Socialists and PP which gave the Socialists the control of the Basque government in 2009 has revitalized Basque nationalism – apparently the most radical version. It has also hurt the Socialists, perhaps dangerously so, considering that the Basque Socialists can draw votes – especially in general elections – from lite-nationalists and anti-PP strategic voters. After all, the ‘EE’ part of the PSE-EE refers to an old party, merged with the PSE in 1993, which was founded as the political party of ETA-PM (the politico-military/moderate wing of ETA at the transition). The PNV itself has not been all that convincing in opposition to the Basque regional government and might appear outdated or tame to some Basque nationalists awaken from dormancy by the PSE-PP pact (which is a campaign point for both Bildu and PNV).
Bildu won 56 municipalities in Gipuzkoa, including 43 with an overall majority, representing nearly half of all municipalities. It won 34.6% of the vote and took 22 seats in the Juntas Generales of the province. Gipuzkoa is the most nationalist and left-leaning of the three provinces, with its mountainous Basque-speaking working-class villages providing a strong militant base for ETA and for abertzale forces. In the Juntas Generales of the province, the PNV won 14 seats (-2), the PSE 10 (-6), the PP 4 (-2), Aralar 1 (-1) and EB-B lost all four of its seats. In Donostia/San Sebastián, Bildu has probably ending the 20-year rule of the PSE’s Odón Elorza, taking 24.3% and 8 seats in the Gipuzkoan capital against 22.6% (7 seats) for Elorza’s Socialists who lost nearly 15%. The PP held all 6 seats and the PNV gained one to win 6. Bildu will need to ally itself with somebody, which is tricky. Elorza, however, has indicated that only the largest party should govern. He could, if he wants to lie, govern with the PP. But Bildu could govern easily with the support of the PNV. The PNV would look bad if it were to deny fellow nationalists such a prize.
The PNV failed to win an overall majority in the Juntas Generales of Bizkaia, losing one of its 23 seats (it now holds 22) and winning 37.2% of the vote. Bildu took 21% and won 12 seats, PSE took 9 (-5) and the PP 8 (nc). EB-B and Aralar were thrown out, losing their three seats. In Araba’s Juntas Generales, the PP is the largest party with 16 seats (+1) with the PNV winning 13 (-1) and Bildu 11. The Socialists won 9 (-5) and EB-B 2 (+1).
In Galicia, the PP has not gained enough to throw out all the biparty PSdeG-BNG coalitions governing in all six major cities. In A Coruña the PP did win enough seats to wrestle control of this old PSdeG stronghold. In Lugo, despite loses, the Socialist-BNG bloc can continue in power. In Pontevedra, the incumbent BNG-led administration picked up four seats including one from the PP and allows it to rule with the Socialists. The Socialists made some major gains in Ourense (over 10% and 3 seats) at the PP and BNG’s expense and asserts its power. The Socialists also gained at the BNG and PP’s expense in Vigo where it can continue governing. In Santiago de Compostela, it was a tight affair (only a handful of votes) but the PP won an overall majority gaining 2 seats at the expense of the BNG and PSdeG and finally takes control of a city held by the Socialists since 1987. But somewhere Franco is smiling as the Socialists lost control of El Ferrol as the PP made major gains (+18%).
Other PP gains include León, Palencia, Vitoria-Gasteiz (though it lacks a majority, with PNV, Bildu and PSE tied with 6 seats apiece to the PP’s 9), Albacete, Mérida, Cáceres, Logroño and perhaps Segovia (the PSOE needs IU to govern, being tied 12-12 with PP). The PSOE won an increased majority in Soria and increased its presence in Toledo (where it governs with IU). I don’t want my Socialist readers to commit suicide after reading this whole lot of bad news, so I’ll say that the PSOE gained Cuenca from the PP. Somebody would do well to explain how the PP managed to lose that.
If you’re a right-winger or Basque nationalist, you’re probably dancing around in joy; and if you’re a Socialist you’re looking for the next time the train passes to commit suicide. Some final conclusions of these elections…
The overall and universal conclusion is that the PP won these elections and the PSOE lost them. Nobody can contest that. The economy is down the hole, the government is taking the blame for it and the necessary austerity which accompanies recessions. Spanish youths are disillusioned, have little job opportunities and are looking to immigrate abroad. Many Spaniards are struggling to make ends meet as they lost their jobs. Such things spell disaster for most governments. It did spell disaster for the Socialists on 22-M.
But lest we forget that Mariano Rajoy’s popularity ratings are only slightly less ghastly than Zapatero’s ratings. There is silenced rumblings against him in the PP which he managed to silence in 2008 and won the rights to quell it all with this victory. But though Rajoy-Zapatero would be a Rajoy victory, Zapatero is retiring. The PSOE will be led by a new figure in 2012, just as the PP was led by a new figure (Rajoy) in 2004 when Aznar retired (though he apparently didn’t if you went by the overpaid stupid foreign journalists). That new figure will either be Interior Minister and government #2 Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba or Defense Minister Carme Chacón. The PSOE’s establishment favours Rubacalba and are pushing for a victory by acclamation for him, which, to me, would be a bad idea. But polls have shown that Rubacalba and Chacón are popular – more than Rajoy at least – and could at least narrow the PSOE-PP gap to the PSOE’s advantage. They will, however, need to break away from Zapatero and convince voters that though they hate Zapatero and probably the PSOE, that the Socialists should be given a third term over the PP. It requires running away from your record, basically. It is a very hard thing to do, even if your opponent is unpopular personally, but everything is possible in politics – which also move very fast, of course.
There is also much more strategic voting in general elections, where regionalists and IU do poorer than in local elections. The electoral system practically calls for it, but there is also deep polarization of Spanish politics – the left overs of the Civil War – between left and right. There a whole lot of voters who would vote for the right in a lot of other places who would rather drink battery acid than vote PP (who is seen by the left and opponents as a fascist Francoist party). And vice-versa (the right and opponents see the PSOE as red atheists). Conceivably, a number of IU and regionalist voters (especially those who voted for the smaller, non-nationalist ones like the PRC, CHA etc; but even some lite Basque and Catalan nationalists) would/will comeback to the PSOE. The PP will also get votes from those who favour local parties in rural areas, it might mend brides with the UPN and I doubt the FAC will run in the general elections (or if it did, it would do poorly).
2012 still favours the right in any case, but I would bet on something much closer than what happened on 22-M. After all, the 1995 PP landslide was followed by a close race (though a PP victory) in 1996. Felipe González had tapped into the Civil War side of politics in Spain to achieve that save-face result in 1996 for the PSOE. In 2012, the PSOE could either tap into that or Rajoy’s personality to achieve if not a victory then a save-face result.
I will have forgotten something or made a stupid mistake(s) somewhere. But if you’ve read all these ramblings, you deserve a big cookie.