By Hillman Hollister
I used to think that American politics were complicated—then I came to Spain. Here there are numerous political parties (none of which has been able to win a majority), whispers of a corrupt political elite, and parts of Spain which don’t even want to be parts of Spain. On the 26th of June, the country is set to engage in yet another round of elections to determine its next ruling party. This is the second election in the past seven months, and it seems as though Spaniards are just about filled to the brim with politics. With four major political parties competing for votes, there certainly is a lot to talk about.
The current situation
Curious to me is the fact that in Spain people vote for the party rather than the candidate. This means that, rather than being responsible to the voters, members of the administration are responsible to their party. This seems like a recipe for corruption. Another interesting aspect of Spanish politics is the tendency of the people to vote for the extremes. The polls currently show that the two leading parties are the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and the far left party Podemos. At first glance it might seem a bit odd that a party closer to the center like Ciudadanos would be trailing in the polls. But consider this: PP represents tradition; a right wing party which will help ground Spain in its roots. Podemos represents a radical new opportunity to lift the country up from its seemingly never-ending economic crisis. Podemos has pursued a tactic of portraying itself as the only alternative to PP, nudging out the other left wing candidate, Partido Socialista Obrera de España (PSOE).
The problem with two extremes
From an outsider’s opinion, the two-extreme scenario does not seem to be a healthy one. It appears obvious that PP is not the best option. Since 2012, the Partido Popular has been unable to solve many of Spain’s dire economic issues. Though they claim that the unemployment rate has gone down, this is in large part because people are leaving Spain to seek work and the labor force is shrinking. Moreover, the party has been implicated in an interminable list of corruption scandals. Podemos offers many attractive proposals (hundreds of them are listed on their website), but electing them to power could be a little bit risky. The shock of such a leftist party coming to power could potentially jeopardize the fragile state of Spain’s economy.
What about Ciudadanos?
Ciudadanos, unfortunately, is currently polling last among the 4 major parties in Spain. This is a shame considering its relatively central position on the ideology scale. This could be exactly what the country needs: a break from tradition which is not too extreme in its policies. Not to mention its leader, Albert Rivera, is young, articulate, and intelligent.