GENERAL ELECTION

Spain’s four main parties running neck and neck in biggest cities — poll

Groups to focus election campaigning on 100 areas where half of Spaniards live

Clockwise from top left: Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, PP chief Mariano Rajoy, Ciudadanos’ Albert Rivera and Podemos’s Pablo Iglesias.
Clockwise from top left: Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, PP chief Mariano Rajoy, Ciudadanos’ Albert Rivera and Podemos’s Pablo Iglesias.

The four main parties running in the December 20 general election are all predicted to win a similar number of seats in Spain’s five most-populous areas. A survey carried out by polling firm Metroscopia in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Alicante shows that the combined 106 seats the cities deliver to Congress would be divided more or less equally between the ruling Popular Party, the Socialists, Ciudadanos and Podemos.

The four parties are running neck and neck, despite the belief that the two newest parties, Ciudadanos and Podemos, are strongest in the cities

Half of Spain’s population lives in 100 towns and cities, and these will be the principal focus for the country’s four main parties in the run-up to the December 20 vote. The PP and the Socialists lost significant ground to emerging parties Ciudadanos and Podemos in the May municipal and regional polls, and will be looking to recover their presence in the major conurbations that deliver the largest number of deputies to Congress. The four parties are running virtually neck and neck, despite the belief that the two newest groups, Ciudadanos and Podemos, are strongest in the cities. But loyalty to the two veteran parties remains.

According to the Metroscopia poll, the PP would obtain between 24 and 25 seats in these five areas; 24 would go to the Socialists; between 22 and 26 to Ciudadanos; and between 23 and 24 to Podemos. The results are similar to the ones obtained in the poll released by the state-funded CIS Center for Sociological Research last week, which gave a slight edge to the PP.

The appearance of Ciudadanos and Podemos has vastly altered Spain’s political landscape since the last general election in 2011. The PP could lose half the seats it gained in the country’s five largest cities four years ago, while the Socialists can expect to shed around 10.

The combined 45 to 50 seats that Podemos and Ciudadanos are predicted to win in Spain’s five largest cities represent the biggest change in politics since the country returned to democracy in the 1970s, ending the two-party system that has dominated since then.

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The biggest loser as a result of the changes has been the United Left party, which managed just five seats in 2011, and is only likely to take between one and three later this month.

The PP is predicted to win 11 seats in Madrid, down from the 19 it won in 2011. Ciudadanos will take between nine and 10 in the capital, while the Socialists are likely to scoop seven, down from 10 last time, according to Metroscopia.

The predictions will come as no surprise to the PP and the Socialists, which are still struggling to come to terms with their losses in Barcelona in May’s municipal elections. Podemos is the largest partner in a left-wing coalition that will likely win it between seven and eight seats in the Catalan capital. Ciudadanos is predicted to take six or seven, and the Socialists, six. The PP will likely be reduced to three seats, while Ciudadanos, which has its power base in Catalonia, is forecast to repeat its strong performance at the September 27 regional election.

The four parties are predicted to come out level in Valencia and Alicante, but in Seville, the Socialists will likely win five seats in Congress, followed by the PP with three, and the two new parties with one seat each. Ciudadanos has lent its support to the Socialists in Andalusia’s regional administration.