Recent opinion polls carried out ahead of this year’s general election in Spain reveal one clear fact: that Spanish voters are planning to change the country’s political map, sweeping away the two-party system that has been in place with few variations since the 1980s, when democracy returned after the demise of the Franco dictatorship.
The latest survey tells the same story: new left-wing party Podemos and the centre-left non-nationalist Catalan formation Ciudadanos are faring well in the polls, leaving Spain’s traditional two main parties, the ruling Popular Party and the Socialists (PSOE), far from the levels of support they enjoyed at the 2011 general election. But the rising popularity that Podemos has registered so far in the polls appears to be levelling out, according to this latest survey.
If a general election were to be held tomorrow, Podemos would take 27.7% of the vote, beating out the Popular Party (20.9%) and the PSOE (18.3%). Ciudadanos would win 12.2% of the ballots cast, while the United Left / Initiative for Catalan Greens (IU/ICV) and Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) would take just 6.5% and 4.5%, respectively.
When the survey was carried out, on February 3rd and 4th, Podemos had just staged a rally in Madrid’s central Puerto del Sol square, which saw 150,000 people come out in support of the new party, which burst on to the political scene last year with a surprisingly strong showing at the European elections.
Party founder and leader Pablo Iglesias, however, has failed to shed light on the details of his party’s policies, something that has been used by other groups to attack Podemos, and is beginning to be cited by citizens as a problem. The party’s discourse has, until now, focused on speaking about dreams becoming reality, such as the recent elections in Greece that gave power to an anti-austerity government. For Podemos, Greece is the example to follow, while the rest of the parties are wary of the actions of the Greek government and are keeping a close eye on the European Union’s response.
Compared to the previous month, however, voter intention for Podemos has fallen by 0.5%. Parties will be announcing their candidates for regional elections in Andalusia in the coming weeks, while municipal and other regional ballots are scheduled for May. That will be a key moment for Podemos, when they will show Spain who their representatives are.
Meanwhile, the PP has risen slightly in the polls compared to the previous month, while the PSOE has lost 0.5% of support in terms of voter intention.
Ciudadanos, meanwhile, has risen by four points to 12.2%, revealing support for the actual party itself rather than simply a rejection of other parties. A total of 47% of those who say they will vote for the party led by Albert Rivera justify their decision by saying they believe it is the party that “is closest to what they think and believe.” Those who support it because of their “disappointment and disenchantment with other parties” have fallen to 29%.
For Podemos, however, 45% of their intended voters cite disappointment and disenchantment with other parties as the reason for their choice. These views are of key importance for the other parties, as they will influence their strategies in terms of winning back votes.