Independentism and Nationalism: what it is at stake in the Spanish elections

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Next Sunday, April 28, Spaniards will vote at the polls for the new president of the government

Independentism and Nationalism: what is at stake in the Spanish elections

This week will be the definitive one for the Spaniards to decide which candidate to vote for in the next elections. According to different surveys, between 25% and 40% of voters still do not know who to choose and given that the political map is fragmented, candidates will have to seduce younger voters and women, who are emerging as saviors, in a campaign where it is estimated that around 70% of Spaniards will take the streets to vote, according to La Nueva España.

Leer en español: Independentismo y Nacionalismo: lo que se juega en las elecciones españolas

Pablo Casado for the Partido Popular (PP), Albert Rivera for the Ciudadanos party, Pablo Iglesias for the Podemos coalition, Santiago Abascal for the VOX party, and the current president Pedro Sánchez for the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) are the official candidates that seek to achieve the presidency in the midst of the independence crisis and the emergence of the nationalist sentiment that invades Spain.

It should be recalled that Sanchez took control of the country, after it began the process of motion of censure, a process by which Congress can stop giving their confidence to the president of the government and allow the removal of it. In June 2018, Sánchez gathered "the support of the deputies of his parliamentary group, Unidos Podemos, ERC, PNV, PDeCAT, Compromís, Bildu and Nueva Canarias" to obtain 180 votes out of the 176 necessary to dismiss Mariano Rajoy, according to El País. The dissatisfaction with Rajoy's management was due to "corruption in his party, more than his inability to resolve the Catalan conflict," according to The New York Times.

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A short government announced

In this way, Pedro Sánchez was seen as a savior amid the accusations of corruption in which Rajoy was sinking. However, for many political analysts, the announcement of new elections was obvious, because within the Congress of Deputies the Socialists have barely 84 seats, compared to 134 of the PP.

The need for the new elections was the necessary and perfect political movement for the PP to regain the reins of the country, since it promoted them in two critical situations of the Sánchez government: the dialogue with the Catalan separatists and the votes for the General Budget of Spain.

The past month of February, a possibility was proposed so that both the Spanish government and the Independentists could reach an agreement that within the formation of the parties table a representation existed in Catalonia, as it was mentioned in another article. However, Sanchez decided to pause the dialogues at a critical moment for his government.

On the one hand, there were all the traditional parties (PP, Ciudadanos, and VOX) marching against these approaches and, on the other, the impending vote on the Budget, and whose approval depended on Catalan support. Thus, without the support of the majority, Sánchez decided to call elections.

Who can win?

While there is no clear favorite, several Spanish media bet that Pedro Sanchez could continue in the presidency, "the PSOE would be in first place, with between 28 and 31.5% of the votes, and between 115 and 139 deputies (it currently has 85), out of a total of 350 members of Congress", as stated by El Heraldo. In this way, traditional right-wing parties could lose seats, moving away from the traditional absolute majority and giving way to a Congress without "stable majorities," according to El Periódico.

However, those who reach the presidency will have to face the independence crisis and, as a consequence, the increase of Spanish nationalism, a constant in the European country and which has increased with the vicinity of Sanchez to the Catalans.

So much so that in the first debates of the candidates, these two points were the most discussed, and in which right-wing candidates recriminated Sanchez, since "the leaders of the PP and Ciudadanos accused him of having put it (the unity of Spain ) at risk in order to stay in power", according to Contacto Hoy. In addition, they accused him of being a "traitor" and of "having plans to pardon independentist leaders currently under trial in Madrid for their participation in the secessionist attempt," according to El Nuevo Siglo.

Meanwhile, we will have to wait until next Sunday to see if Spain is unmarked by nationalist electoral tendencies, such as the case of Brazil or the United States; and if Sánchez remains in power, he will have to prove how he will handle his Achilles heel: the Catalans.


LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz

Translated from "Independentismo y Nacionalismo: lo que se juega en las elecciones españolas"