Spanish general election, 2015
A general election will be held in Spain on or before 20 December 2015, as provided by the current Spanish constitution and the Organic Law of the General Election Regime of 1985. It will open the 11th Legislature of Spain.
The election will be elect all 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies, and the 208 (out of a total of 266) directly elected seats in the Senate, determining the Prime Minister of Spain. The governing People's Party, led by current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, will battle to seek re-election for a second term in office.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Background
- 3 Candidates
- 4 Opinion polls
- 5 Latest possible date
- 6 References
The Congress of Deputies is composed of 350 members of Congress, who are elected in 50 multi-member electoral districts using the D'Hondt voting distribution system with the two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla electing one member each using plurality voting.
Unlike other neighboring countries' practice, such as Portugal, Greece or Italy, it is not frequent in Spain that elections resulting in hung parliaments end in coalition governments at the national level (though it is more common in the autonomous communities' regional parliaments). Rather, the party with the most seats will form a minority government with the parliamentary support of other parties, relying on legislature pacts or, in the event of a party holding a working majority (not absolute but large enough to govern on its own right), ad hoc agreements and/or different forms of parliamentary alliances, in order to pass legislation through the Congress.
Economic and political crisis
The 2011 general election had resulted in a landslide victory for Mariano Rajoy's People's Party (PP), a result of the ongoing financial crisis which had been hurting the country's economy since 2008. The ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), amidst a climate of high unpopularity, was ousted from power obtaining the worst election results since the first post-Francoist electoral process in 1977. Then-Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had decided to stand down as PM candidate in early 2011, and as party leader once the quadrennial party congress due for March 2012 was held. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, PSOE candidate for the 2011 election and former Deputy Prime Minister, was elected as the new Secretary-General in a tight fight against former Minister of Defence Carme Chacón.
Starting with high poll ratings at first immediately following the election, both PP and Rajoy's ratings began to fall after the approval of new austerity measures and spending cuts: a first austerity package including new tax hikes and a spending cut of 9,000 million euros on 30 December 2011 was followed by a harsh labor reform (which resulted in widespread protests and a general strike in March 2012) and a very austere state budget for 2012. The Bankia crash in May resulted in a dramatic rise of the Spanish risk premium, and in June the country's banking system needed a bailout from the IMF. Little over 6 months of government had seen support for the PP government plummet from 45% in the general election to 34% in mid-to late 2012 polls, the most support a political party has lost in its first months of government in the country's history. This was coupled with the PSOE inability to gain lost support, the memory on Zapatero's last government and its economic management still recent in its voters, as well as the emergence of major corruption scandals in both parties, regarding possible illegal financing on both the People's Party and the Socialist Party regional government of Andalusia.
Growing unpopularity and unrest with both parties and the current political system of Spain, coupled with an increase of the Catalan independence movement (and the ensuing political crisis) and the stagnant situation of the Spanish economy, still with high levels of unemployment, resulted in growing support for several minor national parties, such as left-wing United Left (IU), newly created Podemos party (Spanish for We Can; representing the 15-M movement), centrist Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) and Citizens (C's), and right-wing Vox (Latin for Voice), the latter being a recent split from the People's Party.
2014 European Parliament election
All of this culminated in the European Parliament election, 2014. Growing calls from the ruling PP government that economic recovery was already underway did not prevent a major collapse in support for both PP and PSOE, together falling below 50% of the votes for the first time in history. This came coupled with the confirmation of the spectacular rise for minor national parties that polls had partly predicted, but also a surprising strong performance of Podemos party. Former Socialist PM Felipe González's controversial remarks on a TV interview during the electoral campaign that "a grand coalition [between PP and PSOE] could be possible if the country needs it" may have helped hasten the bipartisanship's debacle, as it brought the center of debate on the issue of both parties "being the same" on the eyes of public opinion.
As a result of the election results, PSOE Secretary-General Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba announced his intention not to run as his party's candidate for the 2015 general election, stepping down on July 2014 after a new PSOE leader had been elected. This move was met with criticism and protest within his party's pro-republican militancy and on the social networks when on June 2 King Juan Carlos I announced his intention to abdicate on his son Felipe, because it was rumoured that Rubalcaba did not resign right away on May 26 in order to keep controlling the party during the succession process, which required the approval of an specific Organic Law on the matter.
Podemos' "phenomenon" and reactions
Immediately following the European Parliament election, opinion polls showed Podemos rising dramatically in vote estimation to third place nationally. In the following weeks, Podemos and its leader, Pablo Iglesias, were subject to numerous attacks by leading PP figures, such as Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and party's Vice-Secretary-General Carlos Floriano, referring to the new party as "populist", "televangelist" and "totalitarian". Others, such as former Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre, also accused Iglesias of supporting ETA, Chavism and Castroism.
At the same time, Rajoy's government studied the possibility of reforming the electoral law for the incoming 2015 local elections in order to allow the election winner to rule the council it had won even if it did not obtain 50% of the vote outright. This move has been criticized because such a law, as it was proposed, would benefit the PP the most in a scenario where the left vote would be divided, preventing left-wing coalitions to govern in many local councils. Also criticized was the chosen timing: just 10 months ahead of the local elections and after the PP's poor showings in the 2014 European election.
PSOE leadership changes
In the 2014 Extraordinary PSOE Federal Congress held after Rubalcaba's decision to renounce the party's leadership and to quit from active politics, Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón was elected Secretary-General by the militants, in a preliminary election held on 13 July, with 49% of the vote and a large margin over his competitors. In his victory speech, Sánchez proclaimed "the beginning of a new time in the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party" and that "it was the beginning of the end of Mariano Rajoy [as Prime Minister]". He was formally named to the post on July 26. A new Executive was also named, replacing most senior party members from Rubalcaba's period.
Upon his proclamation as Secretary-General, Sánchez highlighted the need for a renovated and 'clean' PSOE, promising to be blunt with corruption cases within the party. He also urged party members to work "for the millions of people that need a new PSOE", and to make the party "the most formidable instrument for making the country progress". "We [the PSOE] are the party of change, we are the left that will change Spain" Sánchez stated. He has favored a federal amendment of the Spanish Constitution, as a clear reference to the political situation in Catalonia. He has also said to be inspired by the "modernization drives" of both Felipe González in the past as well as of PD-leader Matteo Renzi in Italy.
The following galleries feature individuals who have been the subject of media speculation as being possible prime ministerial candidates in the 2015 general election. Individuals listed below have been mentioned as potential 2015 leading candidates for their parties.
With no term limit for the office of the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy is likely to seek re-election for a second term in office.
Other possible contenders
There have been media speculation that, should Rajoy choose not to seek re-election, there could be a few well-placed people within his party to become possible candidates in a future election.
- Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría — Deputy Prime Minister
- Alberto Núñez Feijóo — President of Galicia
- María Dolores de Cospedal — President of Castile-La Mancha and Secretary-General of the People's Party
- Esperanza Aguirre — former President of Madrid
- Alberto Ruíz Gallardón — former Mayor of Madrid and Minister of Justice
- José María Aznar — former PM Aznar said in an Antena 3 interview on 21 May 2013 that he wasn't discarding a return to active politics, at the same time that he criticized Rajoy's government performance.
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
- Pedro Sánchez — Secretary-General-elect of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
- Carme Chacón — former Minister of Defence
- Cayo Lara — General Coordinator of United Left
- Alberto Garzón — Secretary of Global Economic Policy of United Left
Union, Progress and Democracy
Latest possible date
The next general election cannot be held later than Sunday 20 December 2015. This date is determined as follows:
|Constitution: Article 68.4||The General Courts have a maximum term of four years, starting on election day||2011 election was held on 20 November 2011. Four years after 20 November 2011 is 20 November 2015|
|LOREG: Article 42.2||The decree calling for new elections will be automatically issued 25 days before the expiry date of the General Courts' term, and will be published the following day||25 days before 20 November 2015 is 26 October 2015. The day after 26 October 2015 is 27 October 2015|
|LOREG: Article 42.2||Elections must take place within 54 days of the publication of the election call decree||54 days after 27 October 2015 is 20 December 2015|
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