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Spanish Regional and Local Elections 2011 WIDESPREAD DEFEAT FOR THE LEFT, CLEAR VICTORY FOR THE RIGHT 23 May 2011 Importance of these elections Elections were held in 13 of the 17 autonomous regions in Spain on the 22nd of May. That is, all regions except Andalusia, the Basque Country, Galicia and Catalonia, which will hold them at other dates. Municipal elections have also been held in all towns. The regional elections in Spain are significant because the regional governments have authority over many important matters, such as public health, social care, education, agriculture and stockbreeding, trains and roadways within their territory, town planning, housing, culture and leisure, sport and tourism. Therefore, the State has exclusive authority over certain common matters such as international relations, defence and the armed forces, justice, legislation, customs, nationality and immigration matters, the treasury… Context A country in crisis and preparing for the general elections

Spain is currently going through a severe economic crisis with almost 5 million people unemployed (21% of the active population and 3.2 million more than in 2007). This has lead to the regional elections being considered as an evaluation of the electorate’s opinion on the way the national government is managing the economic crisis, and a possible ‘punishment’ of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) (the current national governing party). In addition, they were a precursor to the next general elections, which will be held in March 2012, unless they are moved forward as the opposition is requesting. The political situation in Spain is bipartisan. Since 1982, control of the national government has been shared out between the Popular Party (PP) (conservative) and the PSOE (socialist). The regional map, however, is somewhat more varied. There are regions where there are only these two parties, while regional parties appear in others with great strength, so much that they even manage to have representation in the national parliament (CiU, BNG, Canarian Coalition, PNV...). Contact Robert Mack Chairman, EMEA Public Affairs Practice

Mariana Frade and Laura Rodríguez Spanish Public Affairs Practice

Burson-Marsteller EMEA Public Affairs Practice 37 Square de Meeûs, 1000 Brussels • Tel +32 2 743 66 11 • Fax +32 2 733 66 11 •

One month before the elections, 79.5% of citizens felt the economic situation was ‘bad or very bad’, and 31% thought the situation would get worse, according to a survey carried out by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (Sociological Research Centre; CIS). In addition, the study showed that 67.2% of citizens perceived the current political situation as ‘bad or very bad’, and 58% considered the government’s management to be ‘bad or very bad’. Furthermore, on the 15th of May, one week before the elections, a social movement grew in Spain under the name Democracia Real Ya! (Real Democracy Now!), which united thousands of citizens in Spain's main cities and had a wide-ranging international impact in the media and especially on social networks, which were used to organise it (#15M, #democraciarealya, @spanishrevolution, @acampadasol...). The aim: to do away with the two-party system and protest against the current political system and electoral law, as well as the influence of economic power in the Spanish government. Regional and municipal elections: Results Out of the autonomous regions that have held elections, 5 used to have PSOE governments (Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha, Aragon, the Balearic Islands and Asturias) and 3 had PP governments (Castile and Leon, Madrid and Valencian Community). Navarre had a coalition government between the Navarrese People's Union and the Popular Party, the Canaries between the PP and Canarian Coalition and Cantabria between the Regionalist Party of Cantabria and the PSOE. On Sunday, 22nd May, the PP won council and regional government elections by a difference of 9.7 points and more than 2 million votes. In more than 30 out of 50 large provincial capitals, and in more than 13 out of 17 regional governments, the PP will govern for the next four years. Party


Votes 2011 8.474.031

Votes 2007 7.916.075



The traditional PSOE strongholds, such as Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha, Aragon and Cantabria, have been taken over by representatives from the PP, in a result that even El País, a left-leaning newspaper, entitled: ‘The PP trounces the socialists’. In Castile-La Mancha, after 28 years of socialist government the PP shattered its dominance; in Aragon, the PP defeated 12 years of PSOE government; and, in Extremadura, the Popular Party was victorious in number of votes, but may be excluded from the government due to the alliance between the PSOE and United Left. But that is not all: in traditionally right-wing areas (Madrid, Valencian Community, Murcia...), the distance has increased so much that voting percentages of between 50 and 60 percent of the electorate have been reached. In terms of municipal elections, the PSOE has achieved the worst result in its history, and of the 16 provincial capitals it was governing by itself, it only held onto four: Toledo, Lleida, Soria and Cuenca. Barcelona and Seville are notable cases, as they were until recently symbols of socialist municipal power, but have now passed to the hands of the opposition. In Barcelona, the party voted for most was CiU, following 32 years of socialist control; and in Seville, the PP obtained an absolute majority after 12 years of socialist dominance. Growth of other parties Inrush of Bildu in Basque institutions. Bildu, a controversial coalition of parties that brings together radical Basques from parties close to ETA (its participation had been challenged before the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court), has become the second political force in the Basque Country, with 313,231 votes in this region and Navarre (more than 276,000 in the Basque

Country alone). Will this be the party that makes peace in the Basque Country possible? United Left achieved 1,424,119 votes throughout the country, surpassing the 5.48% it achieved in the 2007 election to reach 6.53% in 2011. It lost support in Andalusia, however. UPyD (centre-reformist) took 94 councils, one of which was Madrid. In total, it achieved 464,000 votes throughout Spain and was confirmed as the fifth national political force, especially in the capital. General elections The current results seem to predict a PP victory in the general elections scheduled for next year. Extrapolating these results, the PP would be 13 seats from absolute majority in Parliament, with 163 representatives. The PSOE would have 117 seats, the worst result in its history. CiU would be the third political force in Parliament, with 16 representatives, and United Left would go from having 2 representatives, as it does currently, to 15. Bildu, meanwhile, would have 7 representatives. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, secretary general of the PSOE, took it as his own failure, conceded defeat and attributed it to electoral punishment for three years of economic crisis. Even still, the president of the government declared he was not going to move the elections forward or step down. Original text by Spanish Public Affairs Practice. For more information, please contact or /


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Elecciones autonómicas y municipales  

Las elecciones autonómicas y municipales en España de 2011 han servido para sondear la opinión de los ciudadanos sobre la acción del gobiern...