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ANALYSIS: What will the new right-wing coalition government do with Andalusia after 40 years of socialism?

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ANALYSIS: What will the new right-wing coalition government do with Andalusia after 40 years of socialism?
Women shout during a demonstration against the far-right party VOX outside parliament in Seville. Photo: AFP
12:38 CET+01:00
Traditional Catholic conservatives propose radical overhaul of regional government system while liberal reformists defend the status quo.

The Popular Party has done very well out of the results of the elections in Andalusia, their worst ever with just 21 percent of the vote.

Juanma Moreno, spun as Mariano Rajoy's candidate by the new leader's team during the campaign (he was expected to be replaced), gets to govern the 8.4 million citizens in Spain's most populous region from this week, following a confidence vote in the regional parliament today.

Diario Sur reports the outgoing socialists have organised busloads of feminists to protest outside the door. It will be the first time the PSOE has not governed in its southern heartland since the early 1980s.

After weeks of negotiations with Vox and Ciudadanos, the result is as most expected it to be on election night: the Popular Party will lead the coalition government, Ciudadanos gets the Deputy First Minister's job and a few other briefs, and controls the regional chamber via the Speaker's Committee, and Vox will support from parliament and has had some of its manifesto points included in the programme for government, in a document negotiated last week with the PP. Vox is electoral kryptonite for Ciudadanos, which hardly wants to mention the party, never mind place its signature next to Mr. Abascal's brand on the same piece of paper for posterity.

Two polls out over the past few days (El Español, Electomania) suggest why that might be the case: Ciudadanos and Popular Party voters are not very far from Vox positions at all on either illegal immigration or gender violence laws, two of the new party's most controversial media issues. 86.5 percent of Ciudadanos voters and 82.1 percent of PP voters would like to see illegal immigrants deported. 98 percent of PP voters and 93 percent of Ciudadanos voters would like to see some level of reform of gender violence legislation. Vox wants to repeal existing laws and introduce new ones that talk of domestic or “intrafamily” violence. Ciudadanos wants to promote current legislation and provide much more public funding for it.

This is not so much of a problem for the Popular Party, which is trying to regain favour among the growing Vox crowd—”the PP is the original version”, Pablo Casado said yesterday during a radio interview—but it poses a brand management problem for Albert Rivera, because Ciudadanos is supposed to be liberal reformist, not immigrant bashing anti-feminist.

A detailed look at the documents each party has negotiated with the PP shows that out of more than 150 discernible policy points, the three parties only seem to agree on five things: lowering inheritance and income taxes, promoting education for 16-18 year olds in mostly Catholic public-private schools, allowing parents to freely choose the schools their children attend, encouraging better work-life balance for busy parents…and protecting flamenco.


Photo: AFP

There are another five areas where they could probably get something useful done even if they are not in complete agreement at this early stage: reining in regional commercial offices abroad, slashing public funding for NGOs, slimming down regional bureaucracy, cutting costs at Canal Sur, the regional public TV station, and providing more funds to the police to deal with immigration.

This last point could be very conflictive. Vox says the regional health service will be handing over details of temporary ID documents for 52,000 illegal immigrants to the police so that they can do their work applying existing immigration legislation. The actual wording of the agreement with the PP is fuzzier and says the new regional executive will provide “documentary support” to the police for “border control”.

Two National Police unions put out a statement on Friday backing Vox on the numbers and saying they would welcome such a measure. They publicly accused the outgoing administration of “institutional disloyalty” towards the central government on the matter.

The PP has also agreed with Vox to set up a new regional families ministry, which will include more support for women with unwanted pregnancies (an anti-abortion policy), tax cuts for big families (a nod to Catholics), and a regional adoption plan.

The PP-Vox document, though, leaves out any mention of what might well be Mr. Abascal's most radical suggestion for Spain: getting rid of Spanish regional governments and parliaments altogether, a policy position that has some logic to it depending on one's diagnosis of the root causes of the Catalan separatist crisis but which has already generated vociferous rejection from regional nationalists and establishment constitutionalists alike. Given the 1978 Constitution contains articles and procedures allowing for its complete reform, the notion is not unconstitutional per se, as long as Vox were to gather the required amount of support and go about the process in the proper way. The PP-Ciudadanos document, though, calls for a defence of the status quo.

The right, which is now split three ways, is about to try to prove it can do governing coalitions in Spain, within the limits of the current system (so no fascism or tyranny, despite the panicked messaging from Podemos or the PSOE).

This bodes badly for the left as Spain gets to grips with five- or six-party politics, and there are only four months to go until all of the other elections in May, with the possibility of an early general election too.

Matthew Bennett is the creator of The Spain Report. You can read more of his writing on Patreon, and follow him on Twitter. Don't miss his podcast series with weekly in-depth analysis on Spain.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: 2019 in Spanish politics - How much creative destruction will Vox unleash?

 
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