Spain’s political parties – except the left-leaning Podemos – have expressed support for French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron following the first round of the national election held there on Sunday. Both the Spanish conservative Popular Party (PP) and the Socialist Party (PSOE) ignored the fact that their French counterparts have, in fact, been left out of the race for the French presidency, and publicly backed the former minister who founded his own party, En Marche!, a year ago.
Spain’s Ciudadanos party, which sees itself as the clearest equivalent of En Marche!, issued the most enthusiastic support for Macron on Monday. By contrast Podemos, which supported the leftist French candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has avoided backing the candidate.
The challenge in the 21st century is for liberalism to defeat populism
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera
“He himself has underscored the similarities between our values, proposals, and our economic and social programs,” said Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera in a radio interview on Spanish network Onda Cero. “The En Marche! movement is very similar to Ciudadanos. The similarity is basically that it is a center movement with a progressive vision of politics that seeks to renew, not to destroy.
“The challenge in the 21st century is for liberalism to defeat populism,” he added. Liberalism has better ideas and better projects to defeat populism than the conservatives and the socialists.”
Despite the fact that the result of Sunday’s vote represents a blow to traditional parties, Spain’s two main blocs have quickly adopted Macron, a pro-EU former banker, as their choice to defeat the far right, as represented by Marine Le Pen.
Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, of the PP, told the SER radio station on Monday that Macron’s project “is the one that resembles the Spanish government’s the most.”
Neither the Spanish executive or PP party leaders have said a word about the fact that French conservatives have been left out of the race.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Socialists have taken a nuanced stand on the unquestionable debacle suffered by their French counterparts. While there is no praise for Macron, there is a unanimous feeling that the main thing is “to defeat the extreme right.”
The future of Europe is at stake. I hope that France will support Macron
Former Socialist Party secretary general Pedro Sánchez
“The future of Europe is at stake. Even if we don’t like his project, I hope that France will support Macron,” said former PSOE secretary general Pedro Sánchez.
“There are no excuses. We are risking the European project and our model of coexistence,” added Susana Díaz, the Andalusian premier.
And Patxi López, a former Basque premier and speaker of Congress, tweeted: “We are hurt by the results of the Socialist Party in France. But we have to learn: neither sterile radicalisms nor a resigned left.”
Upbraided by other parties for failing to back Macron, Podemos MEP Miguel Urbán said that “it is very difficult to choose between a banker of austerity and the monsters of the past that become present through Le Pen.” According to him, the choice now for French voters is either to abstain or “to cover their noses” and vote for Macron.
English version by Susana Urra.