Spanish politics polarised ahead of an important election year

by Lorraine Williamson
election year

MADRID – Next year will be an important election year in Spain, with regional, parliamentary and presidential elections. The economy, increased electricity prices and the increasing polarisation of political campaigns will no doubt dominate the election year. 

Observers expect a highly polarised election campaign next year. The background to this is the changed leadership of the conservatives. In the spring, Alberto Núñez Feijóo replaced then-incumbent party leader Pablo Casado after internal disagreements over the direction of the party. With Feijóo, the conservatives are now changing their strategy: unlike his predecessor, Feijóo does not rule out an alliance with the far-right Vox. However, he would rather snatch voters from Vox and rule alone. 

On the cutting edge 

It is no coincidence that the conservatives on the right see an opportunity: Vox is currently losing ground. Right-wing nationalists’ biggest issues, such as xenophobia or a hard line against the Catalan separatists, are currently off the agenda. Given the general economic situation in the world, the Spaniards now have other concerns. This is the premise of Feijóo. He wants to win voters over to the conservatives by evoking traditional moderate values. 

At the same time, Feijóo doesn’t want to cut ties with the right-wing nationalists altogether, as he might one day need Vox as an ally in a coalition. Feijóo has therefore announced talks with Vox party leader Santiago Abascal. Under Feijóo’s predecessor Pablo Casado, such a thing would have been unthinkable. 

Socialists move left to please coalition partner 

While the conservatives slide to the right, the currently ruling socialists slide further and further to the left. In order not to show weakness before the super election year, Pedro Sánchez and the socialists make remarkably often concessions to their left-wing coalition partner Unidas Podemos. For example, the Spanish government has recently taken over part of the costs of public transport. Since then, anyone with a monthly subscription can travel for free by train. This measure is likely to remain in place until the end of the year. And it costs the state a lot of money. 

Money as a decisive choice factor 

Sánchez is looking for ways and means to relieve the population even more financially. Because the increased electricity costs and inflation of about 10% are putting pressure on the purchasing power of the Spaniards. An important factor in the coming elections in Spain. Because wages are below the EU average, votes are often cast with the wallet.

Excess income tax 

Sánchez also wants to get an excess profit tax through parliament. It is intended to funnel money into the Spanish treasury. It is a temporary tax for those companies headquartered in Spain that make a lot of money from the current fluctuations in electricity prices: banks and energy suppliers with an annual turnover of more than one billion euros. For Sánchez, it is very important to allay the frustration of the Spaniards about the increased electricity costs. Otherwise, the socialists risk being voted out: the conservatives have been ahead in the polls for weeks. 

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