On June 19, the Andalusian elections took place with a major victory for the conservative Popular Party (PP), which gained the absolute majority at the regional parliament for the first time. The question now is whether the results could be seen as a premonition of next year’s general elections and the twilight of the leftist national government coalition.
The defeat is particularly upsetting for the Socialist Party taking into consideration that Andalusia has always been its stronghold in Spain. Andalusia, the most populated region of the country with 8.3 million inhabitants, is considered one of the jewels in the crown of Spanish politics.
However, Andalusia also has the worst Human Development Index, the highest unemployment rate and deep inequality gaps. In fact, it is perceived as a backward region with only 13 percent of the Spanish GDP and a per capita income of 17,000 Euro, below the 25,000 Euro average of the rest of the country.
The PP has been struggling to win Andalusia since 1992, when the first regional elections were held after Francisco Franco’s death, the last Spanish dictator. Finally, the PP acceded to power in the region after the 2018 election thanks to a coalition with Citizens, the liberal party, and the abstention of the far-right party Vox, although the Socialist Party gained more votes and seats at the regional Parliament.
The 2022 election was of great importance in assessing the approval of the first right government in Andalusia and in predicting the future development of Spanish politics. The PP was entirely triumphant, in that firstly it would now be able to form a government that would not depend on any other party.
Secondly, the PP literally absorbed its former partner in the coalition, the Citizens party, who could not get one single seat in Parliament. Thirdly, the PP leader using a moderate discourse managed to curb the growth of the far-right party whose turnout has stabilized at around 15 percent of the electorate. Lastly, and more importantly, the PP stands up as the hegemonic party of Andalusia for the first time.
How could the PP attain such a good result in the Andalusian election? There are several circumstances that could explain their success. On the one hand, the energy crisis and inflation has worn the national leftist coalition with obvious consequences at regional level.
On the other hand, several studies have shown that the low general turnout benefited the right wing, and only 58.36 percent of the Andalusians voted in this election. The fact is that generally speaking people from low class backgrounds vote for the Left but are more difficult to mobilize on polling day, the exact opposite occurs with the higher classes.
Moreover, the PP´s government has invested an important amount of time and energy in creating the illusion of the so called “Andalucian economic miracle”, which many people believed even though it was misleading.
The Socialist Party should take a note of the electoral result and carry out political damage control. Andalusia is not the first region where the leftist coalition has had a setback since it took office in 2019, it happened previously in Madrid, Castilla, and Leon.
Notwithstanding the severe loss in Andalusia, the Socialist Party in the national government still has 18 months to change the current negative public opinion. However, the Ukrainian conflict and the negative economic perspective will hinder their efforts to alter the existing political drift.