23-07-23: translating results of municipals to generals is an inconsistent exercise

elecciones generales

Fernando González Urbaneja | Quite a few (including two national newspapers) have applied the arithmetic template of Sunday’s results to a general election with a result that would be favourable to the grand coalition of the left/nationalists, headed and sponsored by Pedro Sánchez. In this case the PP would be the most voted party with 140 deputies (with VOX in retreat below 20 seats) while the PSOE would remain as it is with 120 seats, enough to form a government majority together with its usual partners, despite the retreat of Podemos reincarnated under the SUMAR formula which is the fourth or fifth since the original of the meritorious Communist Party of Spain headed by Santiago Carrillo.

Sunday’s elections had a powerful national content with the rejection/support of Pedro Sánchez as a fundamental reference point. But not only that. Voters were voting for city councils and regional parliaments with a personal and local component as powerful as the “Sanchista” vector.

For the general elections on 23 July, the proposal is different and specific. The general elections are 52 simultaneous elections in as many electoral districts (provinces) where the brand name counts, but also the local circumstances and the corrected proportional electoral model that favours the parties with the most votes in each constituency.

A relevant fact is that the difference between PP and PSOE is not enough to qualify Feijóo’s party as the undisputed winner. It is clear that it has gained a great deal of regional and local power, but the overall difference in votes is too small (three and a half points, 750,000 votes) to guarantee the winner a majority in government. It is true that the PP’s advantage in Madrid and Andalusia are valuable assets, but they only compensate for the disadvantage in Catalonia. The Valencian vector, which is always considered critical, looks more of a draw than an advantage.

An unknown quantity on the verge of the final stretch of the general elections is the ballot or ballots of the left-wing parties to the left of the PSOE. Whether they will unite on a single list should become clear over the next few weeks. It does not guarantee a good result, it is a necessary condition, but not necessarily a sufficient one.

Another unknown is whether the message of fear of VOX, of the far-right, is enough to mobilise enough votes to pull votes away from the Partido Popular or whether this is already a worn-out and useless argument.

The first temptation of the socialist leaders in the early hours of Monday morning was to blame the media conspiracy and the difficulties in conveying the message of the effectiveness of Sánchez’s management and the economic situation, the best in Europe in the opinion of the socialist spokespersons. Getting this message right or wrong will be the key to the 23 July meeting.

For the time being, 53 days before the meeting, the results of last Sunday have already had an effect, and the game that is now being played is with other cards and different rules. Nothing has been determined.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.