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Outcome of upcoming Spanish elections still open

Polls predict different outcomes of the Spanish regional and municipal elections due on Sunday, with some predicting more wins for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party-wing party, while others found that the conservative Partido Popular (PP) would come out on top.

With only two days to go before the elections, Spain is preparing for a few months of a political “roller coaster” and a few weeks of “vertigo” that could mark the end of the current coalition government of Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE/S&D).

In Sunday’s elections, 35.1 million citizens will be able to vote, 243,446 more compared with the 2019 regional election, which will decide the distribution of the 67,152 councillors, 142 more than four years ago.

However, Sanchez’s PSOE has more “local power” regarding the number of councillors (22,341, compared to the 20,336 of the centre-right Partido Popular, PP) and the overall population governed: more than 8 million people.

Meanwhile, the election campaign, which has gone largely unnoticed by citizens, more concerned about inflation, record food prices and rising mortgages, has been overshadowed by alleged cases of vote-buying fraud in the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla, on the North African coast, and in Moj?car, Almer?a (Andalusia), two cases still under investigation by the judiciary.

On the other hand, although most political analysts think tanks and polling companies prefer to make a clear division between regional and municipal elections, in which the governments of the Autonomous Communities and city councils are decided, and national elections, it is almost inevitable to establish a link between the two.

“In municipal and regional elections, more and more people are voting on a territorial basis compared to the recent past. Citizens think about how their city is doing and how it has been governed in recent years”, Bel?n Barreiro, CEO of the polling company 40dB, recently told EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es, citing the example of Castilla y Le?n, the largest European region.

“In the case of the Castilla y Le?n (elections), there was a very curious case: the PP tried to run a national campaign, but citizens voted in a regional key”, Barreiro pointed out.

The PP and VOX want to say: ‘Adi?s to Sanchismo’

Despite those who try to separate the two borders, in party headquarters, almost nobody hides the fact that Sunday’s elections will be thoroughly analysed as a first “barometer” given December – the “Mother of all Battles”- in which the PP aspires to “oust” S?nchez from government and make forgive the “Sanchismo“, his political “legacy”, as the conservative party president Alberto N??ez Feij?o described it.

Meanwhile, the left camp defended PSOE-Unidas Podemos’ achievements over the last four years, particularly the post-pandemic social policies the government implemented.

And although she is not participating in Sunday’s elections, Yolanda D?az, Labour Minister and candidate for the prime minister’s office with the new left-wing alliance Sumar, claims that the PP does not have a project to govern the country.

For nearly four hectic campaign weeks, several electoral debates have been held both on public television RTVE and TV, although, according to experts, these do not have much influence on the final outcome.

Perhaps they can influence the undecided citizens, which make up around 30% of all voters and choose who to vote for almost at the last minute, the CEO of 40dB stressed.

Many post-election pacts and a victory for the PSOE?

“TV debates tend to be influential when polls point to a very close result between the first and the second political force, or in a multi-party system between several political forces for the second position”, Barreiro explains.

“What we know from electoral sociology is that, in general, electoral campaigns can influence very little, but that little vote they do influence, if (results) are close, becomes a vote that can change the fate of what happens”, the expert adds.

The latest poll published Monday depicted a very open scenario in which several regions may see a change of government and in which the PSOE would win the municipal elections, with the PP getting closer to them, according to the study by state-owned Centro de Investigaciones Sociol?gicas (CIS).

Other polls point to “technical ties” that could lead to many changes in regions such as Castilla-La Mancha (centre-south) and the Valencian Community (East), key political strongholds for both the PP and the PSOE.

In the case of local councils, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza are some cities where the polls show the closest results, which could tip the balance in the final days of the campaign that ends Friday.

According to the CIS estimates, 25.5% of the voters will decide who to vote for in the municipal elections when they vote, which will be Sunday.

“I think there are lots of emotional responses (voters), and others are more rational. That’s how human beings are. We mix and often reason and the heart is not at odds. In the decision-making process, both elements come together until, finally, there is that ‘click’, the great moment of decision (to cast a vote)”, Barreiro explained.

(Fernando Heller EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

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