Carlos González Poses

 

Through all my life, watching any electoral election was a synonymous of a Popular Party’s victory. It’s a fact that, among other reactions, always made me curious. What’s more striking, it has been like that for any Galician born since 1982: PP has won all elections for the last 35 years. For that reason, I wondered: how did Galicians vote since my generation was born? Will we see PP loose in any election? What can we expect for the future? To answer it, here are 3 keys based on Galician voting through last 20 years.[1]

  1. Party system:

 

Until 2011, there was a closed competition in a two and a half party-system (Blondel, 1968): PP versus PSdeG + BNG, which were also fighting for the second place -with better results for the first-. But BNG and PSdeG are still mole related: the triangle shape in the lines of both PSdeG and BNG describe always better results in autonomic elections than in the closer general election in BNG, while the opposite in PSdeG. The persistent trend suggest some voters would be preferring nationalist options in autonomics, while estate options in general. Therefore, a dual voting may be occurring -although needed to be confirmed by survey data-.

From 2012, there are changes in the patterns of party competition: a new autonomic rival appeared in the left-side, AGE (a coalition mainly by Esquerda Unida and nationalist Anova), which stealed third place from BNG. They would latter integrate the coalition Podemos-En Marea (AGE + independents), conquering second place. On the right side, a very weak Cidadáns (C’s) appearead, with almost no representation. If consolidated, we’ll be in a multipartidist system with one dominant party, as set by (Siaroff, 2000)[2]

2. Dimensions of political competition

In general, it is considered that there are two classic dimensions of competition among parties in Spain[3]: the left-right one and the territorial. Galicia represents both.

It is, nonetheless, slightly different distributed in comparison to the whole Spain. On the right we had an overrepresented PP and a very weak C’s; while in the left PSdeG is les voted, since it competed first with BNG, and now with BNG and Podemos-En Marea. Besides, representation of nationalist dimension is both overrepresented and biased to the left (BNG and some En Marea). There is no right nationalism,[4]  but voters of PP and PSdeG are, still quite nationalist (CIS) [5]. In fact, PP and PSdeG define themselves as “galicianists”, and try to achieve those voters.[6]

After 15M, a new dimension of political competition emerged in the whole Spain: new vs old parties, where C’s and Podemos better competed at first. As said, those parties entered Galician party system, but with two interesting particularities.

First, AGE was created only 40 days before the election by people with no parliamentary experience, surpassing BNG, and hence surprising public opinion. Pablo Iglesias worked there as campaign assessor, and the coincidence with Podemos was also ideological: leftist although slightly more nationalist. This could indicate that new/old dimension was first introduced in Galicia than in the rest of Spain, two years before Podemos (and latter C’s) did in 2014.

Second, in last three elections C’s made better in general one and worst in autonomics, while PP made the opposite. One hypothesis is that some kind of contra-intuitive association could be made by some voters: PP being considered as the Galician right, while C’s would be the Spanish right. We might be observing the naissance of a new dual voting, paradoxically based on right and national axis between two declared non-nationalist parties.

3. PP’s predominance and the generational gap

As can be deduced, there hasn’t been any real competition to PP from a single party, with the only exception of 2008 -when it won by 3%-. In average, the competitive index (distance with second party) is 20%; and all their results in Galicia were above 46%. Despite it, they didn’t obtain absolute majority in 2005, hence not governed for a legislature.

 

A key factor in this overwhelming PP’s victories is the age. PP is very much stronger in voters +65 than in any other group, with a huge and increasing gap between older and younger generations.

 

This “cleavage” is key not only to explain PP victories, but also to foresee what might happen. It’s true that people tend to become more conservative when they get older[7]. But, on the other hand, the cohort effect -people who socialize in a determined context tend to acquire determined values- shows young people are not voting PP, probably because that’s not in their generation mindset.  The gap is so big that the cohort effect will probably be stronger than the lifecycle hypothesis. PP might be in troubles if they don’t reach younger voters, what seems that will happen.

In conclusion, Galicia has its own political system. Despite that, during last 20 years general political trends in Galicia and Spain were not so different: in first stage, when PP or PSOE were more voted in general elections in the whole Spain, they were more voted in Galicia too -either autonomics or general-[8]. Moreover, when Podemos and C’s appeared, they appeared in Galicia too.

However, there are also some remaining doubts. First one is if the new trends in patterns of party competition will consolidate, by creating a new clear party system. The main doubts are on BNG -will it keep losing votes and eventually disappearing?-, and C’s – which relative strength will they have? Will this dual voting fact be confirmed?

Finally, PP’s victory in elections seems guaranteed at least for a few years, but there’s a source of hope for their detractors: much of their voters are going to die soon, and this is not trivial in the third most aged community (INE). If, in addition, C’s doesn’t improve their results, new governments based on the coalition potential of En Marea, PSdeG and maybe BNG -if still exists- may get more common. I may assist to PP losing power of Xunta, but PP not winning elections probably will have to wait at least for my sons.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

– INE. Comunidades autónomas por edad media. Consultado Online: www.ine.es

– Electoral information obtained from Portal de Transparencia e Goberno Aberto of Xunta de Galicia. [https://transparencia.xunta.gal/portada

-Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS). Estudio nº , 2153, 2347, 2674, 3122 y3644. Encuesta Postelectoral de Galicia. Elecciones Autonómicas 2001, 2005, 2009, 2012 y 2016

-Fdez-Albertos (2015). Dime qué edad tienes y te diré a quien votas. Piedras de Papel (El diario). From: http://www.eldiario.es/piedrasdepapel/edad-voto-European-edition_6_262183820.html          [5/11/2017]

-Galindo, J (2015). 25-S. Brevísimo análisis electoral. Politikon (2015). From: https://politikon.es/2016/09/26/25s-muy-breve-analisis-postelectoral/ [5/11/2017]

-Lombao, David (2017). Galiza coma tarefa, Catalunya coma escusa. In Praza.gal. From:http://praza.gal/politica/15319/cronica-galicia-como-tarefa-catalunya-como-escusa/ [5/11/2017]

-Tilley James (2015) . Do we really become more conservative with age? In The Conversation [The Guardin blog] From: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/03/do-we-become-more-conservative-with-age-young-old-politics

-Wolinetz, J (2006). Party system and party systems in Handbook of political parties (ed by Katz & Crotty).

 

Notes:

[1] Graphs and data start at 2000 since there were no general or autonomic election before I was born: 28/12/1997.

[2] The ENP changed rised from 2,71 in first election to 3,3 in two latter elections, since confirming the condition of multipartidism made by the author. (Full classification included in Wolinetzs’ article)

[3]For example, those are used by Jorge Galindo en: 25-S. Brevísimo análisis electoral. Politikon (2015)

[4] There are some very little right nationalist party, but their size make them insignificant to this work, as Compromiso por Galicia or Converxencia XXI.

[5] Data supporting this is on questions about being a nationalist or Galician/Spanish feeling. They can be checked in any Postelectoral CIS studies refered at the Bibliography.

[6] In 2005, BNG and PSdeG promoted a new Estatuto from Galicia. Although at first there was unanimity, the Catalan crisis of 2006 Estatut ended with the project. Both PSdeG and BNG agreed on the key factor: declaring Galicia a nation, but PP voted against. (Praza, 2016) Others examples of this banal nationalism is Manuel Fraga declaring himself a galicinist, or statutes of PSdeG declare this too. In fact, their last leader, Xoaquin F.  Leiceaga, came from nationalist movement (BNG).

[7] Tilley, James (2016). Do we really become more conservative with age?

[8] See first graph and compare it to Spain results in General Elections (Info Electoral. Ministerio Interior).