Both the ruling Popular Party and the opposition Socialists fared badly in Spain’s parliamentary elections yesterday. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party lost its parliamentary majority (with 28.72 percent of the popular vote and 123 seats) and Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez led his party to it worst drubbing in recent history (with 22 percent of the vote and 90 seats).
The big winner was Podemos (with 20.66 percent of the popular vote but only 69 seats), the left-wing, anti-austerity party led by Pablo Iglesias.*
Though Mr. Rajoy’s conservative Popular party won the most votes, they weren’t enough for it to rule on its own, putting Spain on the path toward a minority or coalition government led by the incumbent or one of his rivals. Spain, which emerged from a recession in mid-2013 after a raft of belt-tightening measures and labor reforms, is growing at around 3% this year, the fastest rate among major eurozone economies. But the country is still coping with an unemployment rate of more than 20%, only slightly below the level when Mr. Rajoy took office in 2011. . .
Nearly half of Spain’s electorate voted Sunday for parties that rejected the austerity measures Mr. Rajoy applied while halting the country’s slide toward insolvency. Voters in Greece and Portugal this year cast out governments that had imposed similar spending cuts and tax increases demanded by creditors to weather the eurozone’s debt crisis.
“One of the conclusions of the election is that the left, even if it´s quite fragmented, has resurged in Spain,” said Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence. . .
Added together, the Socialists, Podemos and other leftist parties finished nearly as strong, winning 161 seats. And these parties have more potential allies among smaller regional parties from the Basque Country, Catalonia and Canary Islands, which won a total of 26 seats.
Spain now follows Greece and Portugal in rejecting the Draconian austerity measures—that created soaring unemployment, declining wages, and deteriorating social services—national and European elites have imposed in the aftermath of the 2007-08 global financial crash.
*Spain’s rules for elections to the Congress of Deputies generally favor the two large parties and parties with concentrated regional strength, at the expense of national third parties. Hence, the discrepancy between Podemos’s share of the popular vote and the number of parliamentary seats.