Andalusia: regional elections, national tendency?

The PSOE (Socialist Workers Party of Spain) has fallen, the right is rising and Vox’s far-right has broken into the institutions. These results have caused a spectrum of feelings: disappointment, pessimism and, at the same time, they unleashed anger and important mobilizations. Questions were posed: Is this the perspective for Spain? What can be done to avoid it? People´s disappointment with the PSOE and the fact that Podemos doesn’t turn into an alternative nationally, but instead into a bad copy of the old political structures; paves the way for the right wing expressed in PP (Popular Party), Ciudadanos (Citizens) and Vox. Wherever they pop their heads out, like in Brazil, Europe and now Spain, far right candidates cause a popular reaction that proves there’s strength to face them. The problem is not in the people, but in the politics of inconsistent leaders.

It isn’t an irreversible phenomenon. To stop them, we have to confront them on the streets and build a new broad, left wing alternative that doesn’t let down its followers or compromise its radical agenda. Social polarization across the globe is the main context in which we have to analyze social and political processes. The Andalusian elections do not escape from this reality.

The result

Being the most inhabited region of the country (6.5 million people), the Andalusian results are considered an indicator of voting intent for the municipal elections of 2019 and eventual general elections. Because of that, the two traditional parties (PSOE and the PP) gave it all, as if it were a national election.

The results were: PSOE-A: 27,9% – 33 seats; PP: 20,8% – 26 seats; Ciudadanos: 18,3% – 21 seats; Adelante Andalucía: 16,2% – 17 seats y Vox: 11% – entered with 12 seats. A table with the details of the 2018/15 elections illustrates the magnitude of the political changes. The PSOE sank losing 14 seats, the PP lost 7 seats, Cs gained 12 more, Vox entered with 12 seats and Adelante Andalucía fell from 20 to 17 seats.

Another important fact is there was a low turnout of 58,65%, almost four points down from 2015, which shows that there is a share of disappointment with parties and their politics of austerity and corruption. Previous polls made predictions that didn’t contemplate the election´s two main phenomena: the magnitude of the PSOE’s collapse and the Vox´s results.

Possible coalitions to form the absolute majority of 55 could be: Vox, PP and Ciudadanos 59 seats; PSOE and Ciudadanos 54; PSOE, Adelante Andalucía 50 and PP, Ciudadanos 47. The concrete situation is that if the reactionary forces make a deal, they could form a majority and govern. Both Juan Manuel Moreno and Juan Marin are standing for the investiture, and are willing to pact with Vox, which has no intention of becoming an obstacle to getting the “communists” of the PSOE-A out of power.

The two party system has been shaken

The PSOE has taken a crippling blow, since Susana Diaz, “the Sultan”, was in power as a continuity of a socialist reign that lasted 36 years. She campaigned with a low profile, aspiring to capitalize her government management. Toward the end of her campaign, she almost exclusively dedicated herself to asking for votes by agitating the ghost of Vox.

The defeat is also a clear sign for Pedro Sanchez and the PSOE in their first contest after the vote of no confidence. Polls showed that they were recovering nationally, but last Sunday’s elections lay a mantle of doubt on that perspective.

The elections were also a test for the PP, being the first contest after the fall of Mariano Rajoy. With Pablo Casado as the new leader, they didn’t know how the right wing vote would be distributed. The PP secretary general fully focused during the campaign on supporting Juan Manuel Moreno. As a result, the PP kept falling, although it could get to power through the parliamentary system. The PP-PSOE duopoly, axis of the 1978 constitutional assembly, is increasingly losing legitimacy among the population, emptied of content and rotted by corruption.

Those benefited and those not

The weakening of the mainstream parties in recent times has given Podemos a great opportunity of becoming an alternative that could capitalize the anger at the establishment. Unfortunately, that opportunity moves further away with every election. Adelante Andalucía (Podemos-A, Izquierda Unida, Los Verdes-CA, IA y PA), led by Teresa Rodriguez (Izquierda Anticapitalista), didn’t maintain the sum of the votes of its two main components and fell in votes. The fact that Podemos is no longer a alternative nationally and the deterioration of Pablo Iglesia’s image have an influence which proves impossible to ignore.

The centerpiece of their campaign was a critique of the PSOE-A because of its pact with Ciudadanos in the previous legislature. They presented themselves as “the only barrier against the right” and an “alternative to the PSOE”, with proposals of “transparency and positive changes for the people”.

The confluence in Adelante Andalucía facilitated the growth of Ciudadanos. Ines Arrimadas (Andalusian by birth) left Catalonia and set up headquarters in Andalusia with Albert Rivera to support their candidate Juan Marin. Ciudadanos contested the right wing electorate with the PP with three political concepts: “against Catalan independence, against corruption and for change”, and they did well, because they grew in votes.

The far right was also favored, with the strong irruption of Vox in the institutions for the first time, with Francisco Serrano as a candidate and Santiago Abascal as their maximum leader. This formation has an anti-feminist, xenophobic and homophobic program, that rejects the current regime of autonomous regions and promotes a strong Spanish nationalism. It was presented without a local structure and only with national proposals. It should be noted that the collaboration of the mass media in establishing Ciudadanos and Vox in the national political arena was not minor.

Opinions for debate

The fall of the PSOE-A was an unexpected wake up call that Sanchez wasn´t able to dodge and pushes the government toward advancing the national election date. The two main exponents of the regime are still suffering from important electoral setbacks, which simultaneously deepens the problems of a weakened regime, that cannot give progressive answers to the majority of workers and the people.

Ciudadanos reaffirmed the dynamism that they had already manifested when Arrimadas was the elected in Catalonia. There’s no way we can ignore the rising of Vox in the context of a Europe where fascists are starting to show up.

In the middle of an increasing social and political polarization, the loss of votes shifted the old parties to the right. Some time ago, when Podemos had emerged from the 15-M indignados, it had moved them to the left. Podemos is disappointing thousands of people that believed that an real progressive and substantial change was possible. Their adaptation to the regime in exchange for positions of power, their approximation to the PSOE, which is part of the problem and not of the solution, and their increasingly bureaucratic internal mechanisms, has them stumbling from crisis to crisis and not appearing as an alternative.

There are some cynics that read the rising of the right and the far right as a response to the “Procés”. They place the blame for the appearance of fascists, on the millions of Catalans that democratically voted for self-determination in the 1O referendum, on the political prisoners and the politically exiled, on all who don´t want a king or oppression. It is a filthy trick.

If they had minimal political honesty they would have to say that in Spain the 1978 regime is still in force, with its Francoist imprint that doesn’t impede the reactionaries in the development of their politics, but rather allows and encourages them.

Also, many self-proclaimed “democrats”, “progressives” and “republicans” didn’t support self-determination, kept themselves “equidistant” from 15S and the Catalan people. They keep a complicit silence in the face of repression, the existence of political prisoners with false charges and the attacks on democratic liberties. This lack of active and mobilized solidarity with the Catalan struggle is what emboldens the right and the far right.

Our challenge: building a new political alternative

It would be risky to affirm that the Andalusian results mark the general trend of where the votes will go in Spain, more so in this country of frequently shifting realities. At the same time, it would be mistaken to cross our arms and wait to see if the Andalusian scenario repeats itself or not.

A new challenge presents itself: we have to transform the sadness and concern over the result into active and organized anger, to reverse or stop the right in all its expressions. Vox hasn’t occupied a single seat yet and there are already mobilizations against them. That’s the example we need to follow, which shows that we should not give up now. The rise of the right isn´t irreversible and it isn´t the dominant factor in the world situation. Polarization, electorally expressed at different moments, with a clear majority in the mobilizations against the reactionaries.

Besides confronting them on the streets, we have to organize a regroupment of truly democratic and consistent forces, to build a new anti-capitalist, feminist and anti-racist political alternative for in the Spanish state.

We must raise an alternative with a consistently radical program to favor the popular majority and not a handful of corrupt capitalists and speculators protected by local governments and the European Union. Building this much needed alternative is a big, but not impossible task, and we have to start by placing its pillars. This is one of the most important conclusions of the Andalusian elections.