It has been a huge year for elections, the outcome of Greece’s Syriza party in January caused an international storm in the mainstream media with headlines dominated by the country and its economic situation. Results in Britain, Portugal and the regional result in France shed some light on the political space in Europe.
The Spanish People’s Party (PP) gained the largest share of the vote last week, winning with 28.7% of the vote and taking 123 seats. While the party’s leader Mariano Rajoy is now in charge of the country whether he can actually bring through his arty’s policies remains to be seen.
The reason for that is PP actually only gained a few percent more than the country’s socialist party PSOE and 8% more than anti-austerity Podemos. Podemos and PSOE together now have 159 seats, a shockingly high number considering Podemos was formed less than 20 months ago by Pablo Iglesias.
While centre right PP is now technically in control, the Spanish elections show how weak the status quo parties are becoming in at least parts of Europe. While right-leaning governments form the majority of EU parliaments, citizens across Europe seem to be engaging with the alternative parties be them socialists or far-right.
Podemos’ success is slightly more notable than Syriza in Greece as the economic environment isn’t quite as bad despite still having 20% youth unemployment. The fast rise of Podemos could also signal a better chance for Jeremy Corbyn in Britain than some believe in the UK.
While a lot can happen in four years, its possible that Podemos can be part of a coalition after being formed in less than half the time to Britain’s next national visit to the polls.