It will be a victory by attrition. When Spaniards go to the polls again on June 26 after the December election failed to produce a new government, turnout will be lower, a new poll for EL PAÍS shows.
And the Metroscopia survey also suggests that the Popular Party (PP) will benefit from that 3.2-point drop in voter participation (to 70%), and earn the most seats in parliament again.
The poll also forecasts that the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the anti-austerity Podemos will both lose votes this second time round, while Ciudadanos and United Left (IU) will perform better.
We will not deal with the PP, we are a radically different party. The PP is our adversary
Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez
According to Metroscopia estimates, the PP will receive 29% of the vote, followed by the PSOE with 20.3%, Podemos with 18.1% and Ciudadanos with 16.9%. The smaller Communist Party-led United Left (IU) stands to double its presence with 6.6%, although it may run in tandem with Podemos.
No grand coalition
Despite forecasts of a stronger PP emerging from the elections, Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez – the only candidate to have attempted a bid at the prime minister’s office, attracting the sole support of Ciudadanos – says he will continue to reject the notion of a grand coalition with the conservatives led by acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy.
Secret talks with Podemos
The Socialist Party opened up a secret dialogue with Podemos in a bid to explore the chance of a deal without breaking with its official partner, Ciudadanos.
Testimony gathered by EL PAÍS among PSOE and Podemos leaders who are familiar with those contacts suggests that economic issues and the anti-austerity party's demands for cabinet positions were the real cause for failure to agree, rather than the idea of a hypothetical referendum on Catalan independence, which Podemos theoretically supports and the Socialists reject.
“We will not deal with the PP, we are a radically different party,” he told members of the party federal committee behind closed doors at a Saturday meeting. “The PP is our adversary.”
Rajoy has called for a cross-party coalition that would include Spain’s two main forces and possibly also the center-right Ciudadanos.
But in the four months since the December election, Rajoy has been unable to attract support of any kind from other parties in Congress, which are unwilling to associate themselves with a party tainted by corruption scandals.
Sources close to Sánchez say that even if Rajoy stepped aside in favor of a new candidate – something Rajoy does not appear to be contemplating – there would still be no chance of a grand coalition with the PP.
But sources at the Saturday meeting also say that Sánchez's request for agreement from delegates was met with silence. The federal committee is responsible for laying out party guidelines, and it will do so again after this fresh election.
The meeting barely mentioned the PSOE’s only partner, Ciudadanos, with whom it drafted a governing program that has failed to attract enough congressional support for a majority: the Socialists have 90 seats and Ciudadanos has 40, short of the 176 required.
One committee member, Javier Lambán, who is the regional premier of Aragon, said that the agreement that produced the 200-point joint program between the Socialists and Ciudadanos was a thing of the past and that it was time for each party to move on.
English version by Susana Urra.