“Spain is not going to be the same anymore and we are very happy,” declared Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, last night. He’s right: the two-party system which has governed Spain since its emergence from dictatorship in 1975 has just ended. Podemos, an anti-austerity populist party that didn’t exist two years ago, has taken 20pc of the vote in the elections; Ciudadanos, a more centrist upstart, won 13pc. Both have deprived the conservative Popular Party of its majority. It finished first with 29pc of the vote, but it’s not enough to govern. The PP’s main rival, the Socialist Party (PSOE), won 22pc.
So what now? It’s all uncharted territory. Spain’s democratic history has shown a two-party system (below) working reasonably well:-
“I am going to form a government” says Mariano Rajoy – but how? With whom? Just as with Sweden’s election, two main parties have performed badly due to the rise of insurgents – yet one of these battered parties will have to try to lead the country. Not a recipe for stable, strong government.
It’s a good result for Podemos, given its recent opinion poll performance (below).