Andalusia, the most populous region of Spain, votes this Sunday to elect a new regional government.
These are elections that are considered crucial because its result could anticipate the scenario that the Spanish would face in the general electionsscheduled for next year.
Although there is no lack of rumors according to which, the friction between the partners of the PSOE-Podemos coalition government could bring forward the call to the polls for the end of this year.
More than 6.6 million Andalusians will be able to vote on June 19 to elect the 109 members of Parliament who will carry out the XII Legislature in that region.
They are elections that the current president of the Andalusian Government and candidate of the Popular Party (PP), Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, advanced seeking to improve the results that in 2018 made him president, although with certain nuances: without having won the elections, in coalition with the liberals of Ciudadanos and with the parliamentary support of the deputies of Vox, the extreme right-wing party that continues to grow in Spain.
Not too motivated, Andalusians dream of a government that stops unemployment, one of the highest in the country.
A survey by the Center for Sociological Research (CIS) -an autonomous body that depends on the Ministry of the Presidency- indicates that 62 percent of Andalusians consider that unemployment is one of the three most important problems in Andalusia.
The president of Vox, Santiago Abascal, and the candidate for the presidency of the Junta de Andalucía on the right, Macarena Olona. Photo: EFE
The polls sweeten the ears of Moreno Bonilla, a politician who was almost unknown when he ran four years ago and who could revalidate his mandate -the polls give him 36.6 percent of his ticket- with a forecast that predicts that he will add more votes than the entire left.
And despite the fact that he aspires to achieve a majority that allows him to govern alone, and for which he should manage to overcome the 55 deputies of his party in Parliament, he would need the support of Vox, which, for now, is only willing to give it in exchange to enter the government.
“If he only needs a single seat from Vox, one abstention, he will not be president if Vox is not within the government,” warned the candidate of the far-right party, Macarena Olona, to Moreno Bonilla.
The strategy of the PSOE
Juan Espadas, the PSOE candidate that President Pedro Sánchez supported in the primaries against his historical rival within the party, Susana Díaz, strives to play a worthy role and get no less than 33 socialist deputies to sit in Parliament, the figure lowest in the history of the PSOE in Andalusia.
The elections this Sunday in Andalusia, a challenge for the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez. Photo: AFP
“Andalusia has been a stronghold of the PSOE. We have had four decades of socialist government. And even when Moreno Bonilla governs with Ciudadanos in this Legislature, the previous elections were won by the PSOE (in number of votes, which does not guarantee having sufficient parliamentary support to form a government)”, he tells Clarion Antonio Conde Argudo, president of the Association of Political Scientists of Andalusia.
Ciudadanos, the party that today occupies the vice-presidency in the coalition government with the PP, could obtain such modest results that it is not unthinkable that it will disappear from the Andalusian Parliament, according to some forecasts.
The formation Por Andalucía, the union of several parties, from which Podemos was left out for being late for the registration deadlines, presents as a candidate Inmaculada Nieto, from Izquierda Unida, who is joined by Más País -a split from the Podemos by Pablo Iglesias-, Equo and the Andalusian People’s Initiative.
The local party, Adelante Andalucía, whose candidate is Teresa Rodríguez, would also lose parliamentary presence.
The president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, does not hide his strategy: if the PP is first in votes, he proposed to the PSOE to facilitate the formation of governments in those autonomies and municipalities in which it wins in the next elections in exchange for abstaining in the voting of the election of the future president of Andalusia, if the PP is first in votes. The maneuver aims to not have to count on Vox to anoint Moreno Bonilla president again.
“There is an enhancement of the figure of the PP candidate as someone moderate and somewhat hiding the acronym of the party itself. There is a tendency of the PP to a moderate center and it is moving away from the vote that the extreme right of Vox is fishing -Conde Argudo thinks-. He has realized that he cannot be in that niche of votes and has gone to that moderate center asking for the vote of the discontent of the Socialist Party”.
According to the political scientist, “this is going to be extrapolated to the national level. They are going to try to capture the center vote, which was a vote of discontent with the Socialist Party and with the Popular Party itself. The PP is going to try to attract him again”.
Surveys project a growth of Voxwhich would reach around 18 percent of the votes, which would allow him to add eight more deputies than he obtained in 2018.
About 20 percent of the electorate has not yet decided their vote for this Sunday. Y the ghost of abstention -in Spain elections are not mandatory- grows.
“Voting by mail has increased but there is a great disaffection and not only from Andalusian citizens,” says Conde Argudo.
Correos, the postal entity that sends ballots to citizens who ask to vote remotely, received almost 180,000 applications, a figure that implies an increase of 98 percent regarding the Andalusians who requested it in the last regional elections of 2018.
“We have participated in the campaign events of the main parties and the militancy itself has dropped. They have not been able to attract mass influx to these events. That is a paradigm of disaffection and of the little illusion that militancy has, ”adds the political scientist and underlines the issue that keeps Andalusians awake: the lack of work.
“The province with the most unemployment in Spain is in Cádiz,” says Conde Argudo.
According to figures from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, eight of the ten cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants with the most unemployed in Spain are in Andalusia.
With these early elections, Andalusia fulfills a decade of governments that did not come to an end. There were three electoral advances: in 2015, in 2018 and this Sunday.