Elections in Spain: What’s next for Rajoy, Podemos, others

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. It seems PM Mariano Rajoy simply refuses to lose, so to speak. So what’s next for him in your opinion, is it him (or at least somebody from PP) who still has the biggest chance to govern the country?

2. Pablo Iglesias is probably not satisfied with Podemos results. Do you Podemos still has potential to grow as a political party and how or maybe we saw its peak?

Answers:

Carsten Humlebæk, Associate professor, Department of International Business Communication, Copenhagen Business School, Marie Curie Research Fellow at Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville

1. He has a fair chance of becoming the next PM despite the many scandals and the fact that everybody has refused to support another Rajoy-led Government. The fact that the PP in any case holds an absolute majority in the Senate and thus holds a de-facto veto on any legislation from an alternative Government is also important in this situation. But just as the PSOE-Ciudadanos plan required the abstention of either PP or Podemos to form Government, Rajoy too is dependent on the abstention of either PSOE or Podemos to form Government and they have both promised not to support a Rajoy Government. But the scarce possibilities of forming any other Government may make them change their mind. In practice it would require the collaboration of both PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos, which seems unlikely. So it all depends on how the other parties react to the situation. If nobody changes their mind, a third round of elections cannot be excluded, although strong voices in Spanish society are urging the politicians to take their responsibilities seriously and form a viable government. Therefore the blame for causing another round of elections will be severe.

2. No, they are not satisfied and the polls were very wrong in predicting the ’sorpasso’ of Podemos (to become second largest party ahead of the PSOE). Also here it is difficult to predict what will happen and thus whether we have seen the peak of Podemos. In the end the excessive tacticism of Podemos seems to have backfired and therefore Podemos needs to learn to be less maximalist and engage in real negotiations of give and take – like they have learned at regional and municipal level in many places all over Spain since the regional and local election in May 2015 – if they want to convert the votes they obtain into real power. If they do not learn this lesson, we may well have seen the peak of Podemos.

Luis MorenoResearch Professor, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institute of Public Goods and Policies

1. Rajoy is the only leader who can claim victory in yesterday’s elections. He is the obvious candidate to form a government. However, he does not have a parliamentary majority, so the PP will need legislative support from another party (Ciudadanos?). Or the abstention of other parties to get a simple majority enabling him to form a new government. Negotiations will be tough, as for example, Ciudadanos wants to change the electoral system which has penalized them heavily (and ‘unfairly’).

2. Pablo Iglesias is the main loser of these elections. He has failed in his strategy of making Unidos-Podemos the main party of the left. At this time, it is difficult to predict the future development of Podemos. Its only ‘consolation’ rests on the fact that it is a young party and his voters are young.

Alejandro QuirogaReader in Spanish History, School of Historical Studies, Newcastle University

1. I reckon Rajoy will keep his post. It seems that the countless cases of corruption have reached a saturation point. No matter how many cases they have faced that there is no electoral penalty. However he does not have an easy task in front. I mean the socialists have already said that they won´t support a PP government. Rajoy could go for  a minority government but this will be problematic too, as he does not have the MPs to run the country. The other mathematic alternative, a government of PSOE-Podemos and Ciudadanos seems even more unlikely.

2. I am not sure whether Podemos has reached its electoral top. Probably not. They have the support of the youngsters and the urban population. They may have to change their strategy and the socialist behaviour in the next months will be crucial, but I still think this is a party with a huge potential.

Ramon Pacheco PardoLecturer, King’s College London

1. I think that Spain’s political parties cannot afford not to form a government. A third election in the space of one year or a bit longer would be very negative for the Spanish economy and increase the disillusion with politicians in Spain. Thus, I think that the Popular Party, which has been the most voted again, will probably be able to lead a new government this time around. Whether Mariano Rajoy will continue as prime minister is another question though, given his unpopularity with voters from other parties and with these other parties themselves.

2. I think that Podemos has probably reached its ceiling or is very close to it. Most left-wing Spaniards are centre-left, and even with an unpopular leader the PSOE has held as the second most voted party. Podemos will find it very hard to attract more centre-left voters than it currently has.

Francisco Romero Salvado, Reader in Modern Spanish History, University of Bristol

In regards to Podemos, it is clear that Pablo Iglesias’ gamble to overtake the PSOE by joining forces (or rather absorbing) the United Left has proven to be a total failure. This was fairly even recognized by him last night. Whether Podemos has already touched ceiling or it has still possibilities to grow it will depend on my opinion on two things: the economy and the country’s political stability.

The first question is the most difficult to answer. Everybody agrees that Rajoy pulled out last night a surprise. He won again and with a larger majority. The problem is that he still falls short of having a majority in parliament to be voted PM.

It is going to be tricky during the next weeks. It will all depend on the PSOE. I think after all these weeks of impasse, most people want a stable government, but can the PSOE vote or abstain to permit a Rajoy cabinet? If they do, this could profit Podemos, but if they don’t they will certainly anger most of Spain.

If I were the PSOE, I would allow but with very stringent conditions the formation of a PP-dominated cabinet and certainly without Rajoy.

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