Spain's EP election campaign kicks off
Spain's European Parliament election campaign officially kicked off on Friday (9 May) – with a new poll suggesting the vote on 25 May will be a head to head between the governing Partido Popular (PP) and the opposition socialists (PSOE).
The PP is expected to get 33.7 percent of the votes, or around 20-21 MEPs, with the PSOE on 31 percent, yielding some 18 or 19 MEPs. In both cases this is less than the elections five years ago when the parties won 23 and 21 seats respectively.
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In third place is a coalition of leftwing parties, Izquierda Unida (IU), which is set to increase its representation from its current seat to five seats. The centrist Unión Progreso y Democracia (UPyD) is set to gain three seats – up two.
The Coalición por Europa, made up of centralist regional nationalist parties from the Basque Country and Catalonia, among others, is also expected to win three seats. Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), a left separatist party, is set to double its MEPs, from one to two.
Another leftwing regional coalition, Los Pueblos Deciden, is expected to win one seat while newcomer party, Podemos, which believes in a social alliance without a left-right wing stamp, is expected to enter the European Parliament, also with one seat.
Some political analysts argue that the move from the traditional parties to the smaller parties is a sign of dissatisfaction with Spain's traditional politics and the beginning of the end of the country's long dominated two-party system.
The European elections are seen as an indicator of the outcome of next year's general election although that logic has not always proven to be the case in previous elections.
So far, the debate among MEP-hopefuls is centered on Spain's economic situation with the main party candidates taking very different positions.
The main socialist candidate Elena Valenciano called for the votes of all those who are against the "Europe of the Troika", "neoliberal-only thought" and "social injustice".
PP's Miguel Arias Canete called for voters to support the governing party in order to "defend the interests of the Spanish while at the same time constructing Europe". He added that the PP had "put order in the house" regarding Spain's economic crisis.
The fight for votes is expected to be hard fought as almost half of eligible voters are abstainers, indecisive voters or those reluctant to reveal who they will vote for.
The poll of 4,737 people by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS) was published on Thursday.