Spanish general election, 2015
The next Spanish general election will be held on or before Sunday, 20 December 2015, as provided by the Spanish constitution and the Organic Law of the General Election Regime of 1985. It will open the 11th Legislature of Spain, to elect the 11th Cortes Generales of the Kingdom of Spain. At stake will be all 350 seats to the Congress of Deputies and 208 of 266 seats to the Senate.
An opinion article published in Público on 8 December 2014 suggested that the probable date for the election would be either on 25 October or on a Sunday in November (8, 15, 22 or 29, 1 discarded due to it being All Saints' Day).
Unlike other neighboring countries' practice, such as Portugal, Greece or Italy, elections in Spain that result in hung parliaments rarely result 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 has historically formed a minority government with the confidence and supply 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 variable geometry pacts, in order to pass legislation through the Congress.
Congress of Deputies
The electoral system in Spain is on the basis of universal suffrage in a secret ballot. For the Congress of Deputies its 350 members are elected in 50 multi-member districts using the D'Hondt method and a closed-list proportional representation. Ceuta and Melilla elect 1 member each using plurality voting. Each district is entitled to an initial minimum of 2 seats, with the remaining 248 seats being allocated among the 50 provinces in proportion to their populations. Only lists polling above 3% of the total vote in each district (which includes blank ballots—for none of the above) are entitled to enter the seat distribution.
For the Senate, each of the 47 peninsular districts (the provinces) is assigned 4 seats. For insular provinces, such as Baleares and Canarias, districts are the islands themselves, with the larger — Mallorca, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife — being assigned 3 seats each, and the smaller — Menorca, Ibiza-Formentera, Fuerteventura, Gomera, Hierro, Lanzarote and La Palma — 1 each. Ceuta and Melilla are assigned 2 seats each, for a total of 208 directly elected seats. In districts electing 4 seats, electors may vote for up to 3 candidates; in those with 2 or 3 seats, for up to 2 candidates; and for 1 candidate in single-member constituencies. Electors vote for individual candidates: those attaining the largest number of votes in each district are elected for a 4-year term of office.
In addition, the legislative assemblies of the autonomous communities are entitled to appoint at least 1 senator each, as well as 1 senator for every million inhabitants, adding up a variable number of appointed seats to the directly-elected 208 senators. This appointment usually does not take place at the same time that the general election, but when the autonomous communities hold their elections.
Dual membership of both chambers of the Cortes or of the Cortes and regional assemblies is prohibited, meaning that candidates must resign from regional assemblies if elected. Active judges, magistrates, ombudsmen, serving military personnel, active police officers and members of constitutional and electoral tribunals are also ineligible, as well as CEOs or equivalent leaders of state monopolies and public bodies, such as the Spanish state broadcaster RTVE. Additionally, under the Political Parties Law, June 2002, parties and individual candidates may be prevented from standing by the Spanish Supreme Court if they are judicially perceived to discriminate against people on the basis of ideology, religion, beliefs, nationality, race, gender or sexual orientation, foment or organise violence as a means of achieving political objectives or support or compliment the actions of "terrorist organisations".
Following changes to the electoral law which took effect for the 2007 municipal elections, candidates' lists must be composed of at least 40% of candidates of either gender and each group of five candidates must contain at least two males and two females.
Parties and coalitions of different parties which have registered with the Electoral Commission can present lists of candidates. Groups of electors which have not registered with the commission can also present lists, provided that they obtain the signatures of 1% of registered electors in a particular district. Also since 30 January 2011, political parties without representation in any of the Chambers in the previous general election are required to obtain the signatures of 0.1% of registered electors in the districts they want to stand for in order to present lists for those districts.
The 2011 general election had resulted in a landslide victory for Mariano Rajoy's People's Party after the financial crisis starting in 2008 had eroded away the popularity of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which was ousted from power with its worst election results up to that time. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba was elected as new party leader in February 2012, succeeding Zapatero.
Following the election, ratings for the new PP government under Mariano Rajoy began to fall after approving new austerity measures and spending cuts. A first austerity package including new tax rises and a spending cut of 9 billion euros on 30 December 2011 was followed by a labor reform (which resulted in widespread protests and a general strike in March 2012) and an austere state budget for 2012, as well as a major spending cut of 65 billion euros in July 2012, including a VAT rise from 18% to 21%. The crash of Bankia, one of the largest banks of Spain, in May 2012 resulted in a dramatic rise of the Spanish risk premium, and in June the country's banking system needed a bailout from the IMF. It was later revealed that Bankia had falsified its accounting books until 2012, in order to create the illusion that it was a creditworthy entity when it was bankrupt.
Despite the enormous loss of popularity for Rajoy's government, the PSOE remained unable to regain lost support, with the memory of Zapatero's last government and its economic management still fresh in voters' minds. This came coupled with the emergence of major corruption scandals regarding possible illegal financing of both the People's Party and the Socialist Party regional government of Andalusia, and the increasing prominence of the Catalan independence movement, with the ensuing political crisis.
The breaking point came after the eruption of the Bárcenas affair: leading PP members, including PM Rajoy himself, were accused of having received undeclared monthly amounts of money since the 1990s. After this point, corruption and fraud became one of the major issues of the country, according to a February 2013 CIS opinion poll (rising to 40% from 17.7% the previous month), proving the crisis was not only an economic one, but also one of confidence in politics and political parties as a whole.
All of this culminated in the 2014 European Parliament election. Claims from the ruling PP government that economic recovery was already underway did not prevent a major collapse in support for both main parties, together falling below 50% of the votes for the first time ever. This came coupled with the confirmation of a large rise in support for minor national parties that polls had partly predicted, but also a surprisingly strong performance for the new Podemos party, which from that moment began to attract the support of those disaffected with both PP and PSOE, according to opinion polls.
PSOE leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba resigned the day after the European election. A PSOE extraordinary congress was held, resulting in Pedro Sánchez being elected as new party leader. The election was also said to have hastened the 39 year-reigning King Juan Carlos I's abdication in favor of his son Felipe on June 2014.
As of late 2014, political events began to speed up. Two Cabinet ministers resigned: Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, after Rajoy ordered the withdrawal of Gallardon's bill to reform the abortion law, and Health Minister Ana Mato, already heavily critizised for her management of the Ebola crisis in Spain, after being summoned to court on alegations of having beneffited from corruption crimes allegedly committed by her former husband Jesús Sepúlveda, charged in the Gürtel case.
At the same time, the sudden emergence in late 2014 of several episodes of corruption which had taken place over the course of the past years and decades was compared to the Italian Tangentopoli episode in the 1990s, being dubbed by some media as 'the Spanish Tangentopoli' or 'Black October'. Notable scandals include the charging of Jordi Pujol i Soley with tax fraud related to an undeclared inheritance in Andorra, accompanied by allegations of bribery, embezzlement, breach of trust, influence peddling, forgery of documents and money laundering crimes during his time as Catalonia President; the Caja Madrid "black" credit cards expenses scandal; a formal accusation against the People's Party of having benefited from the activities underwent by the Gürtel network, knowing and allowing such activities; or Operation Punica, a large anti-corruption operation resulting in 51 people arrested, among those notable figures from both PP and PSOE, because of their involvement in a major scandal of public work contract kickbacks. After this, Podemos began to consistently top the opinion polls, neck-to-neck and even ahead of PP and PSOE, both of which saw their combined support ratings plummet to unprecedented levels, barely above 40%.
Parties and candidates
The following galleries feature individuals who have been the subject of media speculation as being possible prime ministerial candidates in the 2015 general election. Only parties standing at a national level are shown, as regionalist parties are mathematically unable to win enough seats to command a large enough majority to form a government of their own.
The People's Party (PP) is the largest and current governing political party in Spain, with 185 seats in the Spanish Congress of Deputies. Its current party leader Mariano Rajoy has been Prime Minister since 21 December 2011. Rajoy has announced his will to seek re-election for a second term in office, being the only person to have officially expressed an intention to run as party candidate.
The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) is the second-largest political party of Spain and the largest opposition party in the Congress with 110 seats. The party has announced that it will elect its candidate for the 2015 general election in primaries scheduled to be held after the 2015 local elections. Current PSOE Secretary-General Pedro Sánchez, party leader from 26 July 2014 succeeding Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, is the only person to have announced an explicit intention to run for the position. There is strong speculation, both from the media and within the party itself, that incumbent President of Andalusia Susana Díaz may seek to stand as well, despite her having denied such a possibility before the 2015 Andalusian election.
United Left (IU) is the third-largest national political formation with a presence in the Congress, having 11 seats. Its leader, Cayo Lara, announced on 16 November 2014, that he would not stand as the coalition's candidate for the 2015 general election, paving the way for Alberto Garzón to become IU candidate through a process of primaries.
Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) is the fourth-largest national political party in the Congress, with 5 seats. The party is scheduled to held primaries to elect its candidate shortly before the general election. Current party leader Rosa Díez is the only person who has announced an intention to stand.
We Can (PODEMOS) and Citizens (C's), despite not standing for election in 2011 and thus having no seats in Congress, have shown a strong performance in opinion polls since the 2014 European Parliament election. Pablo Iglesias Turrión is scheduled to run for Podemos, while Albert Rivera has been expected to stand as his party's candidate, despite also expressing an intention to run in the 2015 Catalonian election, scheduled to be held shortly before the general election.
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.||The 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||The election 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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