Popular Party Crushes Socialist Party in Spanish Regional Elections

Popular Party Crushes Socialist Party in Spanish Regional Elections
The total difference in support was 10 percentage points with 99% of ballots counted
El Mundo: El PP arrolla al PSOE en las urnas
Álvaro Carvajal reporting from Madrid May 23, 2011

Check El Mundo‘s front page for the Javascript electoral map.

It was a bad night for the PSOE all right, as Ferraz predicted. The PP had a crushing victory in regional and municipal elections as the Socialists paid dearly for their management of the economic crisis and the five million unemployed. The voters’ castigation of Zapatero was so convincing that, with more than 9 months to go until the general elections, the question in the air is whether he can even finish the next legislative session. For the moment, the President has ruled out advance elections in order to concentrate on the economic crisis.

The populares have wiped the socialistas off the map. The data speaks for itself. With 100% of the votes counted, the PP obtained 37.53% and the PSOE 27.79%. The difference rounds to ten percent, practically double what the populares won in 1995 when they anticipated the change to come in the general elections of 1996. In 2007 the PP also won, but the difference was only 7 tenths of one percent (35.62%-34.92%).

The lesson is that the PP has painted Spain blue and prepared what could be the landing of Mariano Rajoy in La Moncloa next March. The “populars” won more than 2,200,000 votes and 5,000 council seats than the Socialists. It received half a million more votes than in 2007.

For its part, the PSOE is all disconsolation and sadness. Erased from the regional political maps, it bled votes in the municipal elections and lost more than a million and a half in all. They are suffocated for the immediate future by the voters’ rejection of the Zapatero Government’s policies. Still, their alliances with the PNV and CC guarantee they can rule until the end of the legislature.

From this Monday, Ferraz will fire the starting gun for primary elections to select a new leader for the general election campaign, a delicate situation. We will see if these facts don’t push any aspirants to give up and wait for a less black time. The thumping is such that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero though it necessary to appear before journalists and take responsibility for the election as a castigation of his leadership. The President will “say goodbye” to the elections leaving his party knocked out and without territorial power.

The populares will probably double their offensive to call an advance election. Asked about it, Zapatero dismissed this scenario in order to “complete reforms that are indispensable to the economic recovery“. In his public appearance, Rajoy did not make demands, but he was a meter from Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón and Esperanza Aguirre while the partisans who went to Génova cheered for a “Zapatero resignation” to bring about a “Rajoy presidency”.

Indignation Lifts Up the United Left
Those discontented with the PSOE, and possibly the May 15 Protest Movement as well, have given wings to Izquierda Unida (The United Left) which finally enjoyed a great election night and consolidated itself as a third force. It obtained 6.32% percent of the vote compared to 5.48% in 2007, more than 1,400,000 ballots in all.

The indignation expressed in demonstrations all over Spain, like the band at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, has been reflected in the ballot box, where despite fears of a fall in participation, the voting rate instead rose to 66.22%, two points higher than in 2007. The most remarkable aspect is the black vote, which had a record showing for the democracy at 2.55%. Nullified votes also rose to 1.69%.

There were more winners on this night. Bildu, which was finally allowed to participate in the elections after a Constitutional Court decision, obtained some great results. It is situated as a second political force in the Basque Country, after gaining 25% of the votes and 82 more council seats than the PNV. In Navarre, the coalition sponsored by the Basque nationalist left won 11.64% of the vote and became a third political force, in front of NaBai. The ex-leaders of Batasuna, like Joseba Permach and Rufi Etxeberria, celebrated the results in Bildu’s general headquarters. For its part, the PNV received a slightly greater amount of the vote in the Basque Country (29.9%).

UPyD, running for the first time in some local polls, continued to grow and won 2.08% of the vote, as many in the state of Madrid as in the city. Among the Catalan leagues, CiU won 3.47% and ERC 1.21% of the total votes in municipal elections.

Castilla-La Mancha Falls to the Popular Party
The Socialist bloodletting has a name: Castilla-La Mancha. The turnover in this historically socialist region was complete, and what seemed unthinkable for years has finally occurred.

The fight to govern from Toledo was one of the PP’s obsessions, and it concentrated on raising up a “number two” from the party in anticipation of the national elections. Maria Dolores de Cospedal has obtained an important majority and opened a new cycle in Castilla-La Mancha.

The PSOE has saved Extremadura, another historical stronghold which for some moments looked like it would also fall into the hands of the PP. It would have but for a handful of votes. A predictable pact between the PSOE and IU will leave Fernández Vara the president of the region although the populares received the most votes.

The PP won the elections in all Autonomous Communities in play except Asturias and Navarre. Especially significant are the cases of the Balearic Islands and Cantabria, where it gained an absolute majority in territories in which it was outside of the government due to alliance-making.

Aragon has also changed color. The “popular” Luisa Fernanda Rudi has overturned the government with seven seats, but she will need to make a pact with PAR to become the first female president in the region.

In “popular” fiefdoms like Madrid, Valencia, La Rioja, and Murcia, the PSOE suffered painful defeats. In the case of Madrid, Aguirre augmented her already ample advantage, and in Valencia, Camps survived despite the corruption of the “Gürtel case”.

The only bad news for Génova was in Asturias. Álvarez-Cascos – the candidate Rajoy rejected who created his own party – won the elections with six seats more than the PP. As such, the leader of the Asturian Forum will need votes from the PP to govern..unless there is a PSOE-PP alliance.

In the Canary Islands, the PP won the most votes, but the government will depend on alliances. Given the results, any scenario is possible.

Change in Barcelona and Sevilla
Turning to the municipal plane, the PP has also wiped the Socialists off the map, as the latter lost two of its emblematic and historic cities: Barcelona and Sevilla.

The CiU’s victory in Barcelona means, besides the end of 32 years of Socialist government there, the collapse of the foundation of the PSC which without the Catalan capital will have to learn how to live without the “heart” that sustained it for three decades. So begins the era of Xavier Trías.

In Sevilla, the PP swept to an absolute majority which gives many lessons. And it is the populares who now govern in all the capitals of the province of Andalusia, which seems to anticipate the winds of change announced by pollsters. The president of the region will not be decided for another nine months, but the PP appears to be a serious aspirant to the principal granary of the PSOE.

Of the seven most important cities in the country, the PSOE would only maintain Zaragoza if it formed a triumvirate with the PAR and Chunta. This would appear to be difficult because PP regional leader Rudi will need the PAR to govern the region, and this alliance would presumably include the capital.

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