As expected, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) of Prime Minister Jose Zapatero have been punished in the local elections which took place yesterday. Voters blame them for the poor economic performance of Spain over the past three years, with unemployment running at 21%.
The PSOE took 27.81% of the vote to the People’s Party (PP) 37.58% on a turnout of around 65%. The turnout was better than expected considering the one week of protests around Spain. Nearly half a million voters (2.5%) decided to take heed of the protesters requests and either spoilt their ballot papers or recorded a blank vote.
In the regional polls, the PSOE lost two traditional strongholds, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, although they will remain in power with the support of the left wing coalition, United Left (IU) in Extremadura.
The IU did well in a number of areas, splitting the left wing vote, allowing the PP to win more seats than might otherwise have been the case.
In Barcelona the PSOE lost their 32 year stranglehold on Barcelona, with the centre right Catalan Nationalist Convergence and Union (CiU) Party winning control.
In the Basque region the Bildu, a radical separatist coalition (see previous blog on Spain page, News) took 25% of the vote, beating the Basque Nationalist party. They also did well in Navarra where they took 11.64% of the vote and came third.
The People’s Party (PP), the main opposition in the national government strengthened their hold on Madrid, Valencia and Murcia. They also did well in Aragón but will be obliged to do a pact with the Aragonese Party (PAR). In Andalucía, although there was no regional election, the PP picked up all the major towns including Seville.
Jose Zapatero has said that this will not mean an early general election. The general election is scheduled for March next year.