26-J: Spain goes to the polls for the second time in six months
Barcelona (CNA).- More than 36 million Spanish citizens are entitled to vote this Sunday in the 26-J general election, after parties failed to form a government in December. With polls suggesting a very similar outcome, governing Conservative People's Party, PP, is expected to win the election. The results are not that clear for the rest of the parties. Alternative left 'Podemos', the only Spanish party supporting a referendum on independence in Catalonia, may come second, ahead of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Spanish Unionist 'Ciutadans'. In Catalonia, ‘En Comú Podem’, an alternative left coalition linked to Podemos, is set to win. In December, they got 12 MPs but their ambiguity regarding Catalonia's push for independence –the fact that they support a referendum but they do not consider it as a ‘red line’ in coalition negotiations- may benefit pro-independence left-wing ERC, which came second in December.
The People’s Party, PP, won the Spanish Election in 2015 with more than 7 million votes. The party, led by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, was the leading force in 37 of the 52 Spanish regions and obtained 123 MPs in the 350-seat Spanish Parliament. This figure represented a decline of 63 seats and forced the PP to try to reach an agreement in order to stay in power. However, negotiations failed, and a this new election had to be called.
The Spanish Socialist Party, PSOE, obtained in December 90 seats, 20 less than in 2011, and the two new parties running for the Spanish Elections for the first time, alternative left Podemos and Liberal Ciutadans, came third and fourth, respectively. Podemos got 68 seats and attracted part of the voters which supported PSOE in the past, while Ciutadans got 40 seats, less than many pollsters expected. PSOE and Ciutadans tried to form a coalition, but didn’t get enough support from other parties to win the investiture debate.
Will 'En Comú Podem' win again in Catalonia?
In December, Catalan alternative left coalition En Comú Podem obtained 12 MPs in the Spanish Parliament while pro-independence left wing ERC achieved its best result ever in a Spanish Election, obtaining 9 seats.
'Democràcia i Llibertat', that today is running as Liberal Convergència, secured in December 8 MPs and the Catalan Socialist Party 7 MPs, half of what they obtained in 2011. Ciutadans got 5 representatives in their first time running for the Spanish Elections, the same number of seats as the Catalan People’s Party (PPC).
‘Podemos’ soften their conditions
The only Spanish party which openly supports to hold a referendum on independence in Catalonia is ‘Podemos’, which is ‘En Comú Podem’s partner in Spain.
After the 20-D Spanish Elections, in which ‘Podemos’ obtained 68 MPs, the party put a sine qua non condition on reaching agreements with the other Spanish parties: holding a referendum in Catalonia “with guarantees” and with “a single, clear question”, said the party’s leader, Pablo Iglesias. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’, the two main parties likely to reach agreements with ‘Podemos’ in order to obtain the required majority to govern, accused Iglesias of “putting red lines” and forcing the country to call for new elections.
Probably as a result of that, during the campaign for the 26-J Spanish Elections, Iglesias has insisted that “there will be no red lines”, which has concerned and unleashed criticism from the pro-independence parties’ supporters.
Smear scandal involving PP
Last week, a recording published by Spanish newspaper ‘Público’ revealed that current Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz, and the Director of Catalonia’s Anti-Fraud office, Daniel De Alfonso, allegedly plotted to find different ways to accuse and discredit Catalonia’s main pro-independence parties left-wing ERC and liberal Convergència.
Fernández Díaz, who is PP’s candidate for the Spanish Elections in Barcelona, considered himself a “victim” and described the recordings as “illegal techniques” which aimed “to damage a political adversary and a particular party [PP]” on the race to the Spanish Elections.