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Monday, October 27, 2014

No Podemos parar: Spain's six-month-old protest party comes second in new opinion poll

On this blog, we have been tracking Podemos, Spain's six-month-old anti-establishment party, since its very first success in the European Parliament elections in May - when the party came from nowhere to secure five MEPs (see here and here).

The rise of Podemos has continued since. According to a new poll released by Tele Cinco yesterday, the party led by Pablo Iglesias would finish second in a general election with 24.1% of votes - behind Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Partido Popular (on 28.3%) but ahead of the Socialist Party (on 23.7%).

Podemos was only officially registered as a political party in March and is already polling as Spain's second most popular party. This is absolutely extraordinary in itself, but this second graph is even more interesting:

Essentially, this poll suggests we may be looking at the following two post-election scenarios:
  • A strongly anti-austerity left-wing coalition including the Socialist Party, Podemos and the United Left (53% of votes in total in this specific poll).
  • An unusual 'grand coalition' between the centre-right Partido Popular and the Socialist Party, an option which we discussed here.
The new Socialist leader Pedro S├ínchez has so far ruled out joining forces with either Partido Popular or Podemos, but the next Spanish general election is still a year away - so things may well change. Opinion polls can certainly be wrong, but as we noted in our previous blog posts, the steady rise of Podemos should not necessarily come as a surprise. There was a gap in the market, so to say. Spain, the country that had given birth to the indignados movement, had no real anti-establishment party.

Now that Podemos has entered stage and is consistently polling well, traditional parties may be forced to engage with its arguments. At the same time, we would expect Podemos to come under greater scrutiny and pressure as Spaniards begin to contemplate its role as an opposition party or even as a member of a governing coalition.

One thing Spain's mainstream political forces should keep in mind is that, as Italy's Five Star Movement showed last year, simply ignoring a protest party and hoping it will go away can often backfire.


jon livesey said...

I reckon they should just ignore Podemos. After all, look how well that has worked with the UKIP.

Rik said...

The strategy to tackle populism/protest parties differs in the stages of their rise.

Not yet seriously on the market. Work on the link with the (potentially) disenfranchised voters. Both on taking popular opinion serious as well as programm points.
A stage which already long gone in Spain.

When you have missed that. Try to keep them out of the news. Difficult as there are always traditional party morons that want to show off their self proclaimed moral superiority. A trap nearly 100% of the traditional parties fall in.
Basically also a goner in Spain.

If that opportunity is passed. Basically treat them like a normal party at least marketing wise.
Just realise that possibly a majority of the electorate do not really like their immigrants for instance especially those of the 3rd world variety.
On important issues realise that people will accept a majority popular decision/view, but when there is a missmatch between that and the composition of government/parliament likely a problem will arise. Just look at your 2 Bn now, it pushes away people from the EU.
Seen the fact that may be even more than half the electorate simply doesnot feel represented in Westminster on this issue. With a lot of rather fanatic ones among them.

Spain is in the third stage now (as is Germany). Realistically they are there to stay. Calling views that large groups have facist or racist is subsequently counterproductive. You donot sell Fords by calling people that buy Toyotas, idiots or having a bad taste and straight in to their faces on top of that.

Anyway Spains traditional parties simply seem to have a talent to alienate people (like Catalonians), so they will 'manage' this one as well. So unless the protest party implodes, they have a problem.
While France, Holland, UK and Italy show how to run a party like that. Basically make it identical with their leader (and kick unrational opposition immediately out).

Rik said...

Grand coalitions are a great danger for traditional parties.
When it is clear what has to be done and the guys who messed the thing up are out of the way it might be different.

However here it is not clear what should be done (not for the large majority) and anyway politicians seem more concerned with their own jobs than with doing a good job.

The parties that messed the thing up are still present as such (there is no clear cut with the past).
Not even for the audience showing that there is something to vote for.

Unappealing leaders.
Not solving the problem in the time given by the electorate. You cannot keep messing things up.

Talent to run into other problems (Catalonia). That should be off the table by now.
Anyway it is an issue that alienates more and more people.
Similar to say the Ukraine. If you drown in problems of your own design donot start a new adventure that is not massively backed especially long term. When it comes to paying, people who have to face cuts themselves lose their first basic reaction (Russia and Putin are dodgy/dangerous).

Jesper said...

It might be the arguments or it might be the people leading the parties. My guess is that even if the established political parties changed their policies to be identical to the new parties they'd still lose.

The corruption scandals involving the established political parties makes it difficult to believe they'll do anything about the (at least perceived) corruption, cronyism, nepotism, incompetence etc etc.

The rise of anti-establishment parties is said to be about leading individuals in political parties. It might be that it is true in the sense that people will not vote for the established political parties due to the individuals leading the established political parties. & a coup in the established political parties might not change that- he/she who wields the knife cannot become king/queen.

I know that there are political parties that I'll not vote for due to the individuals leading these parties and this despite the fact that I like many of their policies. Maybe I'm unique in that, maybe I'm not.

Rik said...

1. Traditional political parties should have avoided that they alienate large groups of their historical voterbase to start with.
Increasingly larger groups have felt and still feel themselves ignored by them.
Also the degree of alienation seems to have risen.
For these groups now the stage of anything but... has arrived.
Incredibly difficult if not impossible to reverse that. When your credibility is gone it is over at least for those groups.

Now there is a sort of real alternative and the thing looks to be falling apart. The alternative in Spain isnot really that strong. The leader is not really appealing. And he is from the pretty extreme left. While at least half of the disenfranchised is on the right and would never vote for an extreem lefty under anything close to normal circumstances.

2. Traditional parties now need a makeover to have it work. Other faces and make it clear that the old ways are over.

3. Hard to comprehend for a Northener but very likely the corruption is less of a problem as is mismanagement and ignoring the voterbase.

4. Leaders are essential. Most people vote for leaders not policies. Most traditional parties would have fallen apart if they did.
Likely even more so for the undecided voters (that determine the outcome of an election).

5. Another point is that a lot of people are simply not buying what traditional parties want to sell them. Look in the UK at Mr Ed, hardly matters what he says on the EU. With Farage and Cameron battling it out who is the real thing/product. Farage mainly on being fed up with anything EU. Cameron with an active reneg agenda. Milli is only using rhetoric, simply totally not appealing. Took the wrong strategy as Labour could not analyse the polls propely. All the top of the agenda issues are nearly EU related and very easy to link them. As Farage has successfully done with immigration.

So in a nutshell you are by far unique, but basically show how most people react to these things.

Jesper said...

A timely story:

For the lazy, a quote from it:
"A survey by the state pollster in July showed political corruption is the second-biggest concern for Spaniards after the country’s 24 percent unemployment rate, the second highest in the European Union. "