The leftist parties suffered a debacle in the local elections, sustaining heavy losses all over Spain.
The elections were a dress rehearsal for the upcoming parliamentary elections which thus
bode another catastrophe for the recent losers. Following these elections, President
Pedro Sánchez announced that he was dissolving the parliament to
advance the parliamentary elections, scheduled at the end of the
year, in the hope of jolting voters into realizing that what’s
truly at stake is the Welfare State system.
by Jack Wright
The leftist parties (“progressives”) suffered a debacle that even they, despite numerous opinion polls forecasting such a result of the local elections held on 28 May 2023, were not prepared for. They sustained heavy losses all over Spain, including in their traditional strongholds in Asturias, Andalusia, and Extremadura where habitual leftist voters went for the conservative parties, mainly the Partido Popular but also the extreme-right Vox party.
In the heart of the country, the Madrileños reelected the incumbents: the Mayor of the City of Madrid, Jose Luís Martínez-Almeida, and Isabel Díaz Ayuso, President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, with a stunning vote of absolute majority. Both politicians are members of the Partido Popular.
The buzz, growing louder every minute in the aftermath of Sunday’s municipal and regional elections, is that Pedro Sánchez, secretary-general of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and at once President of Spain’s central government, had better start packing his bags. That he will soon have to vacate the Moncloa Palace, seat of the central government and the official residence of the President of Spain.
It is widely believed that the elections were a dress rehearsal for the upcoming parliamentary elections, slated for the end of this year, from which a new Prime Minister (and President of the Government) will emerge.
It looks improbable at this point in time that the new leader of the country will still be Sánchez. With PSOE the main fatality of the local elections, it just doesn’t seem likely that he could avenge himself. PSOE’s devastating defeat makes it look like the parliamentary elections could hardly yield better results for the socialdemocratic party and, hence, for Sánchez too.
On the other hand, Ayuso is widely seen as aiming to become the first woman President–Prime Minister of Spain in the not-so-distant future, especially if Alberto Núñez Feijóo, current president of the Partido Popular, is able to come up with only a timid victory in the coming general elections.
If one went by the results Ayuso achieved in the Autonomous Community of Madrid last 28 May, the idea that her ambition will be fulfilled isn’t far too farfetched. However, there are credible dissenting gurus who would point out that voters behave differently in local than in nationwide elections. They wouldn’t vote for a particular political party in parliamentary elections as they would in local. So that for Ayuso the premiership isn’t quite in the bag. Yet?
On Monday, following the local elections, Pedro Sánchez announced that he was dissolving the parliament in two days, to advance the parliamentary elections.
There will be snap elections on 23 July 2023, less than two months away from the local elections.
Many on the left of the political spectrum – and some in the center – figure that with the defeat of their own parties in the local elections, primarily PSOE, an early parliamentary election will jolt their voters and disaffected centrist voters into realizing that what is now at stake is no less than the survival of the modern and efficient Welfare State system that up till now enjoys universal coverage, thanks to PSOE administrations. A system that most Spaniards hold close to their hearts but which the neoliberal conservative parties are making no bones about its dismantlement. (“The current system isn’t viable,” so goes their mantra. “Privatization is the only way to go.”)
Will there be life after the coming elections for PSOE?
Featured image/Jack Wright, Emmettie. (PSOE and PP logos/PSOE and PP, PD)
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