Spain heading into its most uncertain polls in history

Monitoring Desk

MADRID: Political parties in Spain have kicked off their campaigns with mutual accusations ahead of general elections on April 28, which could produce unexpected results.

Parties are looking for ways to persuade a high percentage of undecided voters — 41% according to polls.

While right-wing political parties are highlighting the Catalonia independence problem, the left wing is highlighting the rising right-wing threat.

In previous elections, parties held more moderate campaigns for coalition prospects. However, 2019’s campaign started with a declaration of red lines and strong accusations.

After December’s parliamentary elections in the southern Andalusian autonomous region, the conservative Popular Party (PP) established a coalition government with the center to center-right Citizens (C’s) Party and the far-right Vox Party.

It is expected that the three parties will maintain their alliance post-elections.

However, polls published so far in Spain’s media predict that the total number of deputies of the PP, C’s and Vox parties will not be enough consist majority in the parliament.

The polls also show that the total votes of the ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Podemos Party will not be enough to put the leftist bloc in charge.

Even though a coalition between PSOE and C’s would secure the majority to form a government, C’s has already rejected forming such an alliance.

C’s leader Albert Rivera said “there will be no agreement, no matter what” after elections with PSOE leader and current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, accusing him of buckling under the demands of “the separatist Catalans”.

Only a month after the general elections, the Spanish people will head to the ballot boxes once again on May 26 for the European Parliamentary elections, as well as regional and local elections.

The nomination of some separatist Catalan politicians, who are on trial as a result of the illegal pro-independence referendum of Oct. 1, 2017, is leading democracy discussions in the country.

The pro-independence political parties in Catalonia demand that the detained Catalan politicians be allowed to participate in the election campaigns. However, this has been rejected by both the Central Election Board and Spanish courts.

Additionally, some detained Catalan politicians — who were nominated from top of their respective candidate list — are leading to discussions of legality post-elections, if they were to be elected.

The far-right Vox party, which will participate in general elections for the first time, has made the Catalonia independence problem the most important agenda item in its election campaign.

If Vox leader Santiago Abascal governs Spain, he has promised to implement Article 155 of the constitution to freeze the autonomous administration of Catalonia, close the local police department (Mossos d’Esquadra) and hand it over to the national police, declare separatist Catalan parties illegal, close them and arrest separatist politicians.

Vox is also trying to woo voters with its policies against Islam and immigration. Spain’s political system based on two major parties, PP and PSOE, collapsed following the 2008-2014 economic crisis, and the political instability problem is not expected to be resolved with the upcoming elections.

As a result of the economic crisis, the presence of new parties such as Podemos and C’s had caused PP and PSOE to lose votes. Since 2015, no parties have been able to gain the majority to form a government, which led the country to hold general elections for a third time in the last four years.

On July 26, 2016, Spain held elections once again after it couldn’t form a government in the 2015 elections. The minority government established by the PP remained in power until June 2018.

Following a vote of no confidence, the PP was replaced by another minority government under the PSOE, and after eight months of rule, the party decided to hold early general elections. (AA)