For over 30 years Spain has had a two-party political system comparable to that of the United States. Sometimes the conservative Christian-democratic PP would govern, other times the socialist PSOE would, and so on and so forth. Well, for those who might think that European Parliamentary elections don’t matter, Spain’s proof of the opposite.
Following the surprisingly good results in the May 2014 European elections of the anti-austerity party Podemos, led by an eloquent professor of political science called Pablo Iglesias who often appears on political talk shows, the “bipartidismo” has died hard. Podemos skyrocketed in the polls as the two traditional parties quarreled about their numerous respective corruption cases. Notwithstanding its original success, the new party has soon suffered an identity crisis as its third-in-line and co-founder resigned from his post due to ideological differences and calling for founding the party all over again. The party has not been terribly consistent in terms of ideology: anti-capitalist left, transverse, neo-communist, Nordic social democratic, a “tool for the people”, have all been terms given or taken by the party.
On the other hand, as Podemos slumped in the polls, another party has gained traction in Spain: Ciudadanos (Citizens). Labeled as center-left by some and center-right by others, the party led by Albert Rivera first made a name for itself as it defended unionism against secessionists in the Catalonian regional parliament. A European federalist party, Ciudadanos is progressive, staunchly in favor of a free-market economic model and against regional nationalism.
Right now most polls indicate that there will be a quadruple tie in the local elections in May and probably also in the general elections that will probably be held in November. In this new era of Spanish politics, big political parties will have to do what they have never done at a national level: form a coalition.