A fresh election would yield lower turnout and hurt Podemos

New poll shows that Ciudadanos, the other emerging party, could benefit from voter weariness

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera (far right) observes Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias (far left) in Congress.
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera (far right) observes Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias (far left) in Congress.ULY MARTÍN

A new survey of Spanish voters shows that holding a fresh election would result in lower turnout and hurt the anti-austerity party Podemos.

Participation at the inconclusive election of December 20 was 73.18%, short of the historical record of 73.7% achieved in 2004.

And if citizens are asked to return to the polls in June as a result of political leaders’ inability to reach governing deals, turnout could drop to 69%, according to a survey conducted by the polling firm Metroscopia.

Voter loyalty for Podemos is is the lowest of the four main parties, the poll shows

“The decline in turnout, and therefore abstention, may be the result of three factors,” notes Ángel Valencia, a professor of political science at Málaga University.

“On one hand, there’s been a very intense political cycle in which citizens have had to vote too much in very little time, and this may cause weariness among voters,” he says, alluding to the local, regional and general elections that were held in 2015.

“Secondly, abstention hits the left harder, and the current fragmentation of the left, added to its failure to form a government, are favoring this trend,” adds Valencia. “Finally, it could be a way to punish parties for their inability to reach deals and form a government. It looks like the hopefulness over the new leaders, the new way of doing politics, has waned.”

70% of proposals accepted

Anabel Díez / José Marcos

Following a fruitless three-way meeting between the Socialist Party (PSOE), Podemos and Ciudadanos on Thursday of last week, the PSOE has released a statement saying that it accepts 70% of the anti-austerity party's proposals for a governing deal.

At the meeting, Podemos insisted on including two issues that it knew would never be accepted by the two other parties at the table: Catalonia's right to a referendum on self-rule, and much higher public spending.

"Out of respect for your document, for your voters, for all of Spanish society, and because we honor our commitments to you, here is the reply that the PSOE would have defended at the negotiating table, if we'd had the chance that you decided to block," says the statement.

Spain’s two emerging parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos, took Spanish politics by storm in 2015 with promises of radical change to the “old” way of doing politics. They called on citizens to help them break the two-party system by which the Popular Party (PP) and Socialist Party (PSOE) simply took turns in government.

Spaniards obliged, but turnout was not quite what either party had been hoping for, and neither Podemos nor Ciudadanos achieved the kind of congressional presence – 69 and 40 seats, respectively – that polls had been suggesting.

Since then, political leaders have been scrambling to make deals that will give them enough of a majority, but efforts have so far proven fruitless. The PP, which holds the most seats (123), has been at the helm of a caretaker government since December, but their deadline is fast approaching. If no alliances are reached by May 2, parliament will be dissolved and fresh elections called for June 26.

The new poll shows that if this happens, the lower turnout will favor the PP and Ciudadanos because their voters are more faithful and more willing to go back to the polling stations, says José Pablo Ferrándiz, chief researcher at Metroscopia.

“The percentage of potential Podemos voters who say they will vote with all certainty in new elections is also very high, but not so the party’s voter loyalty, which is the lowest of the four main parties.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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