Zapatero should not wear a defeated look on his face, because he has not been defeated. Nonetheless, Rajoy should not sport a triumphant smile either. Those who voted in the European Parliament elections in Spain form the solid core of both parties, but the direction of future general elections will be decided by that other 50 percent that abstained from voting.
(Madrid) ELECTORAL NIGHTS are characterized by a tension similar to that which is unleashed during the soccer league’s final day of play. From this, a winner is expected, along with several losers and a last minute surprise. It is also expected that – in this case – what was predicted by the polls will not come true. Well, neither thing happened on the night of Sunday, June 7th.
The polls were on the money (except for the one conducted by the Center for Sociological Research, CIS, whose lack of sound judgment is becoming habitual); there weren’t as many winners as expected, and the losers turned their heads towards the crisis, which used to not exist, and is now serving as an excuse for everything. What’s more, in an unprecedented defeat of European socialism, Leire Pajín turned the defeat of Spanish socialism into Europe’s last spiritual bastion. But what have we learned from these elections, and specifically, from this result?
“The spectacle of the Spanish campaign has shown us the true face of a useless ruling class, lacking ideas and the ability to project and convince us to believe in a vision that is no longer one of Europe, but rather of each of the country’s projects”
What the politicians do not tell us, but is easy to infer. Citizens -Spanish and European alike- have had enough of our political class. The spectacle of the Spanish campaign -and of other campaigns in the countries of the European Union- has shown us the true face of a useless ruling class, lacking ideas and the ability to project and convince us to believe in a vision that is no longer one of Europe, but rather of each of the country’s projects. Disgraceful, liars, demagogues, and incapable of recognizing even the most obvious. The extremely high percentage of voter abstention was dealt with in a couple of seconds.
In a poorly prepared press conference, during which she even forgot to cite the seat won by the Europe of the Nations coalition, the first vice-president, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, stated that she was pleased with the level of participation in Spain; it was average for the Union and “somewhat above” the level from five years ago. What shamelessness. She congratulated herself because 5 out of every 10 Spaniards turned their backs on this absurdity that is being put forward by our political class. If these elections were subject to the rules of the market, this show would already have already stopped running, due to a lack of an audience. The saddest thing is that this lesson will barely last a few days in the press, and will then fade away.
“For the PP, the question is if the transfer of voters that it has received from the PSOE is all that they can expect to receive, or if it is only a matter of time, and it can wait for the government to make mistakes, in order to continue receiving more voters in the next general elections”
Not too much, but more than just a little. The results of these elections neither confirm nor refute anything. Zapatero will not face congress with a defeated look on his face, because he hasn’t been defeated. And Rajoy will not have to promise good things in order to appease his party, regarding the crucial matter of a strong leadership. Neither of them has enough votes, because those who voted form the solid core of both parties, and future general elections will not be decided by those who have voted in these elections, but rather by that other 50 percent that decided to turn their backs – on both parties.
In upcoming years, the PSOE will have to ask itself if all of “their own” who abstained from voting this time can be won back, and how. For the PP, the question is if the transfer of voters that it has received from the PSOE is all that they can expect to receive, or if it is only a matter of time, and it can wait for the government to make mistakes, in order to continue receiving more voters in the next general elections. The strategical agendas of both parties will be established on the foundation of both crucial issues. And also their tactics, which is the worst part of it, because we citizens will suffer as a result with our eternal patience.
A stable vote. On May 28, I wrote about the data gathered by CIS in the month of April, in which there was an estimated difference of 3.1 percentage points in favor of the PP. This estimate was very close to the results announced on election night (3.7). This means that voting behavior barely changed during the campaign. And this is essentially because the June 7 vote was a “harsh” vote, from the most loyal, with the transfer and winning over of voters having already taken place before the campaign.
“It would be a mistake for the PP to use this data to start asking for Zapatero’s head, and for the elections to be moved up: the citizens have already clearly stated that this is not the path to be taken”
On May 7, using a national poll as a foundation, I estimated the PP’s performance in the month of April to be 2.2 percentage points above that of the PSOE. In other words, the processes of transfer, on one hand, and defection, on the other, were already in motion. Again, the issue is whether in the upcoming months we will observe these processes stabilize or maintain their cycle of preference reversal over time.
Lessons for both. Although it is not a main issue for either party’s executive committee, it would perhaps be worthwhile for both of them to reflect, even if it were just during the question time, on two matters: the growth of the UPyD, and both parties’ fear that it could turn into the new home for those dissatisfied with the traditional political class, and the medium term strategies that should come with the results.
It would be a mistake for the PP to use this data to start asking for Zapatero’s head, and for the elections to be moved up: the citizens have already clearly stated that this is not the path to be taken. We will have to see what kind of leadership ability Rajoy displays in order to say “no” to the advisors that urge him to repeat “go away, Mister Zapatero”. If he heads down this path, it will be a mistake.