Sunday

25th Aug 2019

Spain's traditional two-party system in disarray after EU vote

  • Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias - his party, only established early this year, got eight percent of the vote (Photo: Jairo Vargas)

Spain will send the most diverse delegation ever to the European Parliament with its 54 MEPs coming from 10 different political parties.

The country's traditional two-party system took a large knock in Sunday's vote. The governing centre-right Partido Popular lost eight seats compared to 2009 while the opposition Socialists (PSOE) lost nine and received only half the votes it got five years ago.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

PSOE leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Monday he was stepping down due the result – the party's worst ever.

In the 2009 EP election, the two parties together received 81 percent of the votes. This year they got only 49 percent, a development that many commentators in Spain see as being the beginning of the end of the country's two-party system.

The big surprise of the EP election was the new left-wing party Podemos that was created earlier this year, born out of the indignation movement that occupied city squares across Spain in 2011.

Podemos emerged as the fourth party, garnering eight percent of the votes and five new MEPs. The party is expected to group up with Greece's Syriza in the parliament.

The region of Catalonia had a different kind of anti-establishment vote where pro-independence parties got the greatest support. Four of the most-voted parties and coalitions are in favour of a referendum on independence from Spain.

The clear regional winner – Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) – saw its support within the Catalan region rise from 9 percent in 2009 to nearly 23 percent this year.

Party leader Oriol Junqueras said the result was "another step towards the freedom and independence of our country".

The separatist movement managed to engage their voters with a voter turnout of almost 48 percent compared to 37 percent in 2009 in Catalonia alone. The national average was 46 percent, slightly above the EP election five years ago.

The election result is being seen as an indicator of the general elections in Spain next year.

"The Spanish are in general very angry with politicians and with politics – be it municipal or be it European," said José Ignacio Torreblanca Payá, head of the Madrid office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, in an interview.

However, Spain's anti-establishment parties – unlike in many EU member states – are not anti-EU.

Years of international isolation during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco is the main reason why Spain has no eurosceptic or anti-EU parties.

After Franco's death, it was Europe that Spain looked towards for democracy and prosperity.

"European integration and democracy is the same thing (for Spain)," says Torreblanca.

Meanwhile Antonia Maria Ruiz Jiménez, sociology professor at Seville's Pablo de Olavide University says that while there is some criticism of the EU's, discussion has never touched on withdrawing from the Union, or even opting out from some of its laws.

"In Spain, political discourse does not hint at the possibility of a threat to national sovereignty as a consequence of integration," she adds.

Spain's EP election campaign kicks off

Small predominantly left-wing parties look set to take EP seats from Spain's governing Partido Popular and the opposition socialists. Nevertheless the two main political players are likely to retain some 30 percent of votes each.

Podemos party co-founder resigns

The Spanish party's number three, Monedero, said it is losing its identity ahead of next Autumn's general election.

Feature

Greens yet to be convinced by von der Leyen nomination

After a inconclusive meeting with Ursula von der Leyen at the European Parliament on Monday, all Green MEPs will now get to meet her on Wednesday - ahead of the key vote on her nomination as EU Commission president.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us