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POLITICS

Spanish politics now a four horse race:poll

A new poll shows that bipartisan politics is firmly a thing of the past, as Spain’s two new political parties viewed as real contenders.

Spanish politics now a four horse race:poll
Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, who top Spanish voter intentions according to a new poll. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP.

The poll, carried out by Metroscopia for Spanish daily El País, revealed that Spain’s newer political parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos, are now practically neck and neck with Spain’s traditional big two parties, the ruling Popular Party (PP) and the Socialist party (PSOE).

If a general election were to take place tomorrow, Podemos, the left-wing anti-austerity party that is barely a year old, would come out on top, with 22.5 percent of the vote. It would be followed by the PSOE, with 20.2 percent, the PP with 18.6 percent and Ciudadanos with 18.4 percent.

Voters, fed up of Spain’s traditional two party system are increasingly lending their support to Podemos (We Can) and Ciudadanos (Citizens), who now pose a real threat to the PP and PSOE in the run up to Spain’s general elections.

While Podemos still come top of voter intentions, they have lost five points since last month’s poll, while Ciudadanos, founded in 2006 by Albert Rivera, are experiencing a meteoric rise leaping 8.1 percent in January to 18.4 percent now.

And Cs leader Albert Rivera has the best approval rating of the four party leaders, with 56 percent. Pedro Sánchez, leader of the PSOE, has 36 percent approval.

Pablo Iglesias, Podemos’ leader, has 32 percent while current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy trails with 24 percent approval rating.

Spaniards are tired of the two party system; 77 percent said that the 'best thing for our country' would be for the PP and PSOE to stop being the two dominant parties on the political scene.

"Spain finds itself facing a completely unprecedented scenario," said an El País editorial on the poll.

If no party obtains an absolute majority in the general election, to take place in December, 56 percent of Spaniards support a coalition between 'the centre-left and the left' while 50 percent support a coalition between the PSOE and Ciudadanos.

When it comes to a potential coalition, Spaniards seem to support the joining together of a new and old party. Only 32 percent support a partnership between the traditional two main parties, while the same percentage of Spaniards, 32 percent, support a coalition between the two new parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos. 

POLITICS

Spain’s Sánchez in Morocco to mend fences after crisis

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was in Rabat on Thursday to reset a "strategic partnership" despite criticism from within his left-wing government that it has caved into Moroccan pressure.

Spain's Sánchez in Morocco to mend fences after crisis

Sánchez and a dozen ministers are set to meet Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch for the first “high-level meeting” of its kind since 2015.

“Today we are consolidating a new stage in relations between Morocco and Spain,” Sánchez told journalists in Rabat, saying there was “enormous unexplored potential” between them.

His visit comes less than a year after he drew a line under a year-long diplomatic crisis by reversing decades of neutrality in the Western Sahara conflict to back Morocco’s position.

But Sánchez has faced criticism from both the left and right for the concession to Morocco, including from his administration’s number three, Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz of the hard-left Podemos party.

She has declined to join this week’s trip, in line with her party’s rejection of Sánchez’s “unilateral” U-turn on Western Sahara.

Spain’s right-wing opposition has also slammed Sánchez over the policy, with González Pons, a member of the European Parliament from the Popular Party, saying there was “no greater humiliation than bowing to the will of Morocco”.

Sánchez has defended his move as essential for Spanish interests.

On Thursday he called for new Spanish investments in Morocco, where his country is already the third-biggest foreign investor.

Investment deals

Around 20 deals were signed on Thursday to boost Spanish investments in everything from renewable energy to education, as well as doubling Spanish state support for firms setting up projects there.

Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch said the two countries “want to establish a new economic partnership in the service of development”.

The crisis between Rabat and Madrid had begun in 2021 when Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front which seeks independence for Western Sahara, was treated for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital.

Weeks later, more than 10,000 migrants surged into Spain’s tiny Ceuta enclave as Moroccan border forces looked the other way, an incident seen as a Moroccan move to punish Madrid.

In March last year, Madrid announced a “new stage” in relations and said it backed the North African kingdom’s plan for the Western Sahara of limited autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.

The following month, Sánchez paid a high-profile visit to Morocco and was hosted by King Mohammed VI.

The Spanish premier came under renewed fire this week for holding a high-level visit to Morocco without being hosted by the monarch.

Conservative newspaper El Mundo said the king “had shown his position of strength by standing Sánchez up”.

However, King Mohammed did this week invite the Spanish premier for a higher-profile state visit in the near future to “reinforce the positive dynamic” in their ties, according to a palace statement.

‘Honeymoon’

Cooperation over clandestine migration and terrorism is also high on the agenda during Sánchez’s visit.

After resuming cooperation with the kingdom, Spain said arrivals of irregular migrants on its territory from Morocco were down by a quarter last year compared with 2021.

Both countries faced criticism from human rights groups after at least 23 migrants died during a mass attempt to enter the Melilla enclave in June 2022.

Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska is set to ask his Moroccan counterpart Abdelouafi Laftit to return deportations of irregular migrants to pre-Covid levels, according to a ministry official.

The visit comes as the European Parliament lifts the immunity of two lawmakers targeted in a Belgian probe into suspected bribery linked to Morocco as well as Qatar.

Morocco has staunchly denied any wrongdoing, but the investigation by Belgian police has sparked tensions between key European states and the North African kingdom.

Moroccan politicians and media have accused France, a staunch ally of the kingdom, of “orchestrating” a European Parliament resolution critical of Morocco’s treatment of the press.

“There’s a honeymoon between Rabat and Madrid, and a cold crisis” between Rabat and Paris, French-Moroccan journalist Mustapha Tossa wrote on news website Atlasinfo.

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