Freedom prevails in Spain, for now

Diego Sanchez de la Cruz // 27.06.2016

Spain’s center-right has clearly advanced its electoral position with last Sunday’s General Election. Polls predicted a good result for the far-left populist movement led by Podemos, but the final outcome has been very different.

The governing PP has won 600,000 votes while the coalition between Podemos, the Communist Party (Izquierda Unida) and other regional parties has lost 1.1 million votes.

Two key factors explain this remarkable evolution of Spain’s political landscape. First and foremost, the anti-Rajoy campaign launched by all other parties has been perceived as sectarian by voters. Over the last six months, all the opposition parties tried to articulate a government agreement that did not involve the Popular Party, in spite of the fact that the Rajoy-led group had won the General Election held last December. Voters did not respond to discuss strategy and, in fact, their support to all other parties has fallen while the PP has improved its results significantly.

Second, the fear of populism and its impact on the economy has grown over the past several months. Podemos had managed to capture a certain number of moderate voters who were disenchanted with the mainstream parties, but their coalition with Izquierda Unida, our old communist party, has scared many of these voters away.

During the past few weeks, CIVISMO has actively engaged in the campaign for Spain’s General Election by releasing two key reports: our traditional Tax Freedom Day report and a Spanish version of Timbro’s Authoritarian Populism Index. Both reports were featured on traditional media and also became popular on Twitter, where they both became a Trending Topic after tens of thousands of users commented on the findings.

Meanwhile, our experts have appeared regularly on prime time TV to promote lower taxes and a better business climate for entrepreneurs. We have also highlighted the worsening of economic performance in Spanish cities were Podemos and its allies are in power since May 2015.

Ideas matter and this election was about ideas. Authoritarian populism is a disease that cannot be cured in one day, but last Sunday’s result is a first step in that direction. But we are ambitious: we are not only going to continue focusing on the need to stop far-left extremism, but we are also working towards promoting second generation reforms that should improve Spain’s level of economic freedom.

Diego Sanchez de la Cruz is Director of Civismo.

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