New Opportunities For Spanish Political Parties

The era of absolute majorities in Spanish politics is over.

Two principal issues have exacerbated dissatisfaction toward the political establishment. First, voters perceive that both social democratic and conservative parties’ policies appear to be converging; second, corruption cases have damaged the credibility of mainstream parties, which have been slow to react to scandals.

The combination of economic uncertainty and public disenchantment has opened a window of opportunity for new parties such as Podemos on the left and the Catalonia party on the center-right. National elections in Spain are scheduled for the end of 2015. At this stage, all signs point to fragmentation among parties, and any coalition government would have to make compromises. The significance, Fernando Navarrete, chief financial officer at Instituto de Crédito Oficial, a state-owned bank attached to Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Competitiveness, reminds us, is that “it would lack political capital and a mandate to reverse reforms already undertaken.”

Spain’s electorate is crisis-weary. Now that the labor market has turned the corner and house prices have leveled off, many reason, why put those improvements at stake by voting for a party that might renege on promises? Spaniards have high home-ownership rates, with mortgages based on flexible interest rates. They would prefer the umbrella of eurozone monetary policy, fearing an exit might prompt massive inflation.