Monday, November 21, 2011

Spain rejects socialism – only three per cent of EU citizens now have Left-wing governments

Congratulations to Mariano Rajoy, whose Partido Popular has won a thumping victory in Spain: nearly eleven million votes to the Socialists' seven million, 186 seats to their 110. It's not often that you get the same headline in ABC and El País , but a result on such a scale allowed no room for interpretation: the two old rivals agreed that Spain had entrusted her future wholly to the conservatives.

The achievement is all the more remarkable because, while the Socialist Party (PSOE) picks up votes from Left-of-Centre voters across Spain, Right-of-Centre voters in Catalonia and the Basque Country tend to support local autonomist parties. This means that, in order to win an overall majority, the PP traditionally has to outpoll PSOE by a large margin in the rest of the country. It did so on this occasion. Four of Spain's 50 provinces are in Catalonia, and three in the Basque lands. Of the remaining 43, the PP won 42 (plus Álava in the Basque Country for good measure). In Castilian-speaking Spain, only the citadels of orange-scented Seville poke out above the blue tide.

Thank Heaven the result was decisive. In Greece and in Italy, elected premiers have been toppled in favour of Brussels placemen, and a hung parliament might have opened the door to an eventual Euro-putsch in Spain. Both sides in Spanish politics have, in the past, been equivocal about the verdict of the ballot box. Everyone knows that Spanish conservatives refused to accept the Left's narrow victory in 1936. What is often forgotten is that republicans were every bit as reluctant to accept the Right's victory two years earlier. A long history of uprisings and pronuncamientos meant that democracy was widely seen as a means to an end rather than as a desirable system in its own right. more