• Spain's news in English

Andalusia warm-up sees parties jostle for power

AFP · 20 Mar 2015, 15:07

Published: 20 Mar 2015 15:07 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Recent years of recession and corruption scandals make the southern region of farms and tourist beaches a prime testing ground for Spain's new political dynamic, transformed by the crisis and ensuing austerity measures.
The two parties that have taken turns to govern Spain since the 1980s face a rival pair of surging protest movements in a dress rehearsal for the national polls due around November.
It is an important warm-up for contenders such as left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos, which is looking to match the feat of its ally Syriza in Greece.
Pablo Iglesias kisses Podemos' candidate  in Andalusia Teresa Rodriguez during a meeting, in Malaga on March 14th. Photo Jorge Guerrero / AFP
Syriza won Greek elections in January on a wave of discontent about economic cuts imposed during an economic crisis -- the same trend that has pushed Podemos to the top of the polls in Spain.
Podemos was buoyed by Syriza's victory, but was given pause for thought by the tense squabbles Syriza is now locked in with European powers over Greece's debt.
In Andalusia, "everyone will interpret the results as if it were a first round in the general elections," said Anton Losada, a political scientist at Santiago de Compostela university.
"That is going to happen with the Andalusian election and will happen again with the other local and regional elections in May."
The main opposition Socialist Party, in power in Andalusia since 1982, is seeking re-election against the conservative Popular Party which currently governs Spain.
Polls indicate neither of the giants will win an absolute majority in the regional parliament from Andalusia's 6.5 million voters.
The winner may have to strike an alliance with Podemos or with another upstart contender, the centre-right Ciudadanos.
Albert Rivera (L) with Ciudadanos candidate for the presidency of Andalusia Juan Marin during a rally in Malaga on March 8th. Photo: Jorge Guerrera / AFP
That could foreshadow what coalitions may later be forged to govern Spain, since polls indicate the national election may also fail to hand one party an absolute majority.
Andalusia was among the regions hardest hit by the collapse of Spain's housing market in 2008. Its regional unemployment rate is the highest in the country at 34.2 percent.
Socialist leaders there, along with certain labour union representatives, have been hit by a series of corruption scandals.
The Socialists have fallen out with their current coalition partners, the United Left, and look set to lose seats in Sunday's vote, according to polls.
The Popular Party is also losing support there, blamed by voters for hardship under the economic cuts its national government has imposed.
Enter Podemos and Ciudadanos, which rank third and fourth in polls of voting intentions in Andalusia with around 11 and 15 percent of the vote respectively.
Formed just in January 2014, Podemos has also topped recent national polls.
Its pony-tailed leader Pablo Iglesias, 36, vows to end austerity and do away with what he brands a corrupt political elite.
But his alleged links to Venezuelan leaders -- regular bogeymen in the Spanish media -- and his support for Syriza threaten to put off some voters. 
Ready to scoop them up is Ciudadanos, which started as a Catalan anti-independence party and then expanded onto the national stage in recent months. It shares Podemos's stance against corruption but strikes a more moderate tone.
Story continues below…
"In Ciudadanos, we want justice. What Podemos wants is revenge," said Ciudadanos' leader Albert Rivera, 35, in an interview in El Mundo newspaper this week.
"We could have a more diverse Andalusian parliament, with new political forces getting in, and their support could become necessary to govern," said Jaime Ferri Dura, a political scientist at Madrid's Complutense University.
Polls suggest the Socialists will gain the most votes and be the ones to choose a coalition partner, while renewing their hold on the regional administration -- a prospect that exasperates the ruling conservatives.
"In Andalusia we have had so many problems that we cannot afford to be in the hands of the inexperienced," Ana Mestre, a regional Popular Party deputy for the coastal province of Cadiz, told AFP.
"One thing is very clear: voting for Ciudadanos, Podemos or United Left will be a vote for the Socialist Party."
Susana Diaz speaks during a campaign meeting in the southern Spanish town of Vicar on March 13th. Photo: Jorge Guerrera / AFP

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Recipe: How to make classic Spanish ham croquettes
Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

Learn how to make this all-time Spanish favourite at home.

Halloween weekend: Sunny skies and nightmare traffic
Authorities expect 5.5 million cars to take to the road over the 'puente'. Archive photo: AFP

Spain is set for great weather over the long weekend. But be prepared for nightmare traffic.

Southern Spain will become a desert with global warming
Photo: Steven Stralton / Flickr

Southern Spain will become a desert if global warning continues, scientists have warned.

Eight Spanish films to truely terrify you this Halloween
Photo: Corie Howell / Flickr Creative Commons.

Looking for something to give you goosebumps this Halloween? The Local looks at eight Spanish films that are sure to have you cowering beneath the covers.

Spain's Socialists refuse to go easy on Rajoy once in power
Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists may have reluctantly decided to let Mariano Rajoy govern again but they will not go easy on the acting conservative premier once he re-takes power, they warned on Thursday.

Spain's Podemos sees golden opportunity in Socialist woes
Pablo Iglesias is ready to step up in opposition. Photo: AFP

As Spain's conservatives prepare to re-take power after 10 months of political limbo, anti-austerity party Podemos has set its sights on replacing the divided Socialists as the main opposition force.

Wildlife ranger accused over decapitated bison in Valencia
The headless corpse of Sauro was found last month. Photo: Carlos Alamo / Reserva de Valdeserrillas

The case of the beheaded bison at a wildlife reserve in Valencia just got a whole lot weirder.

Spain jobless drops below 20% for first time in six years
The unemployed queuing up outside a Madrid job centre. Photo: AFP

Spain's unemployment fell below 20 percent for the first time in six years, official figures showed on Thursday.

'Saints not ghouls' insists Spanish church for Halloween
Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

Spanish bishops are urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as "saints, virgins and apostles".

Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
jobs available