Turning blue

Following the PP's thumping victory in Andalucía last Sunday, everyone's asking "what it means" for the country as a whole

MARK NAYLER

Following the Popular Party (PP)'s thumping victory here in Andalucía last Sunday, everyone's asking "what it means" for the country as a whole - as if astute political guesswork, such as you see every week in my column (right?), is essential to arriving at a correct answer. But the main conclusion can be reached with some simple calculations: no one wants the Socialists attempting to lead the country any more.

Andalucía and Madrid are Spain's first and third most populated regions, respectively home to 18% and 14% of the country's 47 million people. In other words, since last May (when the PP won Madrid), regions accounting for 32% of Spaniards have chosen Conservative candidates.

That proportion rises to 37% when you factor in Castilla y Leon, where the PP took first place in elections held this February. The question then becomes, "Are there any good reasons for thinking that the other 63% of the country would vote in a radically different manner if a general election were held tomorrow?"

That's far from a rhetorical question, partly because turnout here last Sunday was a low 56%; and a lot could change between now and the end of 2023, when the next general election is due. But it's harder to answer in the affirmative if you take a closer look at WHERE the PP has secured its most emphatic victory for decades. The centre-right's bolstered position, it seems, is not only or perhaps not even mainly owed to voters fleeing the implosion of Ciudadanos, now a spent force in southern Spain.

Until December 2018, Andalucía had been a Socialist territory for almost four decades. Now, two votes and three-and-a-half years later, all of its eight provinces favour the Conservatives. Seville was the last to turn blue, voting PP on June 19th for the first time since Spain's return to democracy in the 1970s. This suggests that the regional vote expressed, among other things, a deep disappointment with the PSOE, which recorded its worst ever result in Andalucía last weekend.

If you were, say, Spain's Socialist prime minister studying the results in a PP-ruled Madrid, you'd have to be deluded or enormously arrogant not to suspect that no one likes you anymore. You'd also probably have no intention of holding an early general election to have that suspicion confirmed.

Andalucía has become a political laboratory, a microcosm of Spain, in which the efficacy of a lone Conservative government can be observed. Pedro Sánchez's cabinet is no doubt as envious of the PP's absolute majority as it is hopeful that Andalusians' evacuation of the centre-left is a freak result. The figures quoted above suggest otherwise.