AS Britain prepares for a snap general election, Spanish voters are getting ready to go to the ballot box themselves ahead of an election this Sunday.
While Spaniards have cast their votes once already this year, no single party got a majority. The largest party, the left-leaning PSOE, called new elections after its coalition talks with left-wing upstart Podemos broke down.
While the PSOE led by Pedro Sanchez are expected to emerge as election winners again, it is far from certain whether they will win enough votes to gain a majority.
And with the Catalonia riots causing waves across Spanish society and polarising opinions, a surprise could still be in store come Monday.
While the socialists are expected to emerge on top again, leader Pedro Sanchez looks unlikely to get the majority he was hoping for when he agreed to go back to the public in September. His backtracking, at least rhetorically, on his support for further Catalan autonomy has been attacked by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias who has accused him of mimicking PP and Vox. Nonetheless, he remains popular with vast swathes of the electorate for increasing the minimum wage and rolling back some austerity measures.
Spain’s centre-right party had taken a lurch to the right recently, in an attempt to claw votes back from far-right Vox, which has eaten into its traditional base. During the recent Catalan riots against the imprisonment of pro-independence politicians, its leader Pablo Casado called for the immediate suspension of Catalan autonomy on the pretext of restoring order to the region. While his party is expected to make some gains, it remains tainted in the minds of many Spaniards for implementing crushing austerity policies when it was last in government.
The left-wing anti-austerity party sent shock waves through the Spanish political establishment back in 2016 when the new party stormed to third place. However, it has struggled to capitalise on its gains since. It is the only major party which supports granting a vote on independence to Catalonia and is hoping to distinguish itself from the PSOE with its ambitious social policies, including reducing the working week to 34 hours and imposing rent controls.
The far-right party’s hard-line anti-independence stance on Catalonia has proved popular among the Spanish electorate following the October riots in Barcelona, with a recent poll putting the party in third place. Its leader Santiago Abascal recently described Catalan Independence as a ‘coup d’etat’ against the Spanish state. The party has also threatened to ban pro-independence parties and to take back Gibraltar from Britain if it gets its hands on the reigns of power.
Dubbed as Spain’s answer to Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party in France after it rocketed to third place in April’s elections, the centrists have been beset by a chain of damaging controversies ever since. Its eagerness to enter regional alliances with Vox saw Barcelona Pride ban the party from the city’s Pride parade in June and its tough stance on Catalan independence has seen it shed more left-leaning voters.
The animal rights party which wants to ban the sale of animals had its best showing yet in the April elections, gaining over 300,000 votes. The anti-war party also wants to ban blood sports, such as bullfighting.
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya
The Catalan pro-independence party has surged in popularity in Barcelona following the jailing of the organisers of Catalan’s illegal independence referendum. Their jump in support comes on the back of the collapse of Ciudadanos in the region, who are against self-determination.