On the Results of the 2019 Electoral Cycle and the Election Procedures in the Kingdom of Spain

E.P.Marmilova

Abstract

The article reflects on the results of the 2019 electoral cycle and contemplates election procedures in the Kingdom of Spain. The author draws several major conclusions throughout the paper. The PSOE received the majority vote in all types of elections. European Parliament election strengthened the political position of PSOE withing the Kingdom of Spain. The results of parliamentary election held in November 2019 showed that PSOE largely retained its positions while Vox became one of the three major parties in the country while maintaining a far-right policy. The author believes that the Kingdom of Spain was striving to increase the voter turnout at the European Parliament election, which is why this election was combined with regional and municipal elections. Parliamentary elections alone hold much importance for Spanish voters and always attract a high turnout. Most voters across Spanish provinces and autonomous cities give their vote to the country's major parties. Nevertheless, the regional parties from the autonomous communities are very likely to succeed since they are able to unite the voters based on their residence in one of the autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain.


In 2019, all four existing types of elections were held in the Kingdom of Spain: parliamentary elections (elecciones generales), regional elections (elecciones autonomicas), municipal elections (elecciones municipales) and European elections (elecciones europeas). The results of these four types of elections mean the renewal of political power on almost every level of government.

The parliamentary elections (elecciones generales) were held in April and November of 2019. On May 26 in 2019, the citizens of the Kingdom of Spain elected their representatives to the European Parliament as well as more than 8000 governments and their heads in 12 out of 17 regions of the Kingdom of Spain.

This paper aims at contemplating the election procedure and drawing some conclusions based on the results of the 2019 electoral cycle in the Spain.

Parliamentary and national elections in the Kingdom of Spain are an academic interest of both foreign and Russian researchers.

Dmitry Rogovitsky reveals the main parameters of consensus and differing views between the People's Party (hereinafter PP) and Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (hereinafter PSOE) while showing their influence on Spanish domestic and foreign policy from 1996 to 2004 [11]. Nely Fonseca analyzes the 2015 election in the Kingdom of Spain [4]. Aleksandr Sivoplyas provides a detailed analysis of Spanish party legislation, reveals procedures of party participation in the elections and in the activities of elected bodies as well as addresses the funding processes of parties [13].

Papers by Pedro C. Magalhães, Luís Aguiar-Conraria, Michael S. Lewis-Beck [7] Julian Aichholzera, Johanna Willmann [1] present statistical models that allow to predict the results of the elections in the Kingdom of Spain. Ronaldo Prati and Elial Said-Hung used machine learning methods in order to assess the importance of ideology-driven messages posted by Twitter users as well as other variables linked to posting of such messages in the course of election held in Spain on May 24 in 2015 [10].

Vladimir Vernikov sheds light on the reasons behind the defeat of PP and PSOE at the December 2015 elections as well as Citizens and Podemos ("We Can") success. According to Vernikov, "the major problem was not just the fragmented parliament, but also the ideological incompatibility of the four parties" [15].

The paper by Elena De la Poza, Lucas Jódar and A. Pricop states, "lack of trust in the government has led part of the register to change its voting intention and vote for new political offers." The scholars also conclude that "the 2015 Spanish General Elections converted the traditional two-party system into a four-party political scenario" [2].

The research for this paper was conducted through observing the voting process at one of the Spanish polling stations on May 26 in 2019 and interviewing (interview with the chair of electoral commission, interview with administrative officers at a Spanish city hall, voter surveys during the election, electoral statistics analysis, analysis of academic literature on election sourced from the Scopus database).

The Characteristics of Organizing Procedures for the Elections in the Kingdom of Spain

The European Parliament elections are held once in 5 years by a proportional representation without an electoral threshold (the minimum share of the vote required to achieve for getting a seat). The Kingdom of Spain represented a single constituency during the European Parliament elections. The seats are allocated by the D'Hondt method.

The Kingdom of Spain is one of the five countries with the highest number of MPs in the European Parliament.

Table 1. Countries with most members in the European Parliament
Country Number of MPs in 2019
Germany 96
France 74
Great Britain 73
Italy 73
Spain 54

The Cortes Generales (parliament) is the supreme legislative body in the Kingdom of Spain. The Cortes Generales is a bicameral parliament consisting of the Congress of Deputies (the lower house) and the Senate (the upper house). Members of both houses are elected according to general electoral law. The current Congress is composed of 350 deputies.

During parliamentary elections, the constituencies of the Kingdom of Spain correspond with its provinces. The Kingdom of Spain is divided into autonomous communities, which are in turn divided into 50 provinces plus 2 autonomous African cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Autonomous communities have a special legal status. They have their own parliaments, police force and other administrative bodies. One deputy represents each autonomous city in Congress. Minimum two deputies are required to represent each of the 50 provinces. Therefore, the initial number of deputy seats stands at 102, while the remaining 248 seats are allotted in proportion to the population of each province.

Table 2. The number of member seats in the constituencies following the April and November parliamentary elections in 2019
Constituency The number of seats
Madrid 37
Barcelona 32
Valencia 15
Alicante, Seville 12
Malaga 11
Murcia 10
Cádiz 9
A Coruña, Biscay, Balearic Islands, Las Palmas 8
Asturias, Granada, Pontevedra, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Zaragoza 7
Almería, Badajoz, Córdoba, Girona, Gipuzkoa, Tarragona, Toledo  6
Cantabria, Castellón, Ciudad Real, Huelva, Jaén, Navarre, Valladolid 5
Álava, Albacete, Burgos, Cáceres, León, Lleida, Lugo, Ourense, La Rioja, Salamanca  4
Ávila, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Huéscar, Palencia, Segovia, Teruel, Zamora 3
Soria  2

All the constituencies except Ceuta and Melilla use closed-list proportional representation. The seats are allocated by the D'Hondt method.

Each constituency is divided into districts that are comprised of 500 to 2000 voters.

Municipal elections are held all over the country on the same day as regional elections. Members of all municipalities as well as mayors are elected during municipal elections. Municipal deputy elections are held by proportional system, while mayoral elections are held by plurality voting. As a result, deputy elections in Ceuta and Melilla as well as mayoral elections are an exception to the general rule of the electoral system of the Kingdom of Spain. They are held by plurality voting instead of proportional representation.

Regional elections are elections where the citizens of autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain elect members of their respective autonomous parliaments.

The constitution of the Kingdom of Spain allows the autonomous communities to pick the election formula on their own. The autonomous communities prefer to use proportional representation both during parliamentary and municipal elections.

Regular parliamentary, regional and municipal elections in the Kingdom of Spain are held once in every 4 years. Early parliamentary elections are held in case the parliamentary parties are incapable of forming the Government of the Kingdom of Spain.

Table 3. Electoral thresholds in the Kingdom of Spain
Type of election Thresholds
European Parliament elections No minimum threshold
Parliamentary election 3% threshold
Regional election 3%, 5% or 6% thresholds, some autonomous communities apply the threshold only to the constituency; others apply it to the autonomous community as a whole.
Municipal election 5% threshold

The Kingdom of Spain uses a closed-list system, which means that the preferential order of candidates on the list cannot be changed during voting. Party and coalition lists are published in the national newspaper about a month before the election.

Carlos Sanz makes the following conclusions in his article called "The Effect of Electoral Systems on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment" [12]: "the open-list system increases turnout by between one and two percentage points. The results suggest that open-list systems, which introduce competition both across and within parties, are conducive to greater voter turnout."

According to Article 220 of the Organic Law on General Electoral Regime of the Kingdom of Spain [6], if a party, alliance, federation or group of voters is willing to contest the European Parliament elections, they need to gather no less than 15000 voter signatures. The voter may put only one signature for one specific party or alliance, obtaining two or more signatures from one voter is not allowed.

Parties, federations and alliances could replace this requirement by collecting the signatures of 50 elected officials: deputies, senators, Spanish MEPs, members of legislative assemblies in autonomous communities or members of local corporations. None of the elected could put their signatures for several applications. There are different rules for collecting signatures when it comes to participating in parliamentary, regional and municipal elections.

To participate in parliamentary elections (elecciones generales), a group of voters is required to collect to less than 1% of the total number of registered voters, while a political party is required to collect no less than 0.1%. A voter may not put their signature for several candidates.

Table 4 demonstrates the amount of signatures required to participate in the municipal elections depending on the population of a municipality.

Table 4. The amount of signatures required to participate in the municipal elections (elecciones municipales) under Article 187 of the Organic Law on General Electoral Regime of the Kingdom of Spain
Population of the municipality The required amount of signatures
less than 5000 no less than 1% of the signatures of the total number of registered voters
from 5001 to 10000 no less than 100 signatures
from 10 001 to 50 000 no less than 500 signatures
from 50 001 to 150 000 no less than 1500 signatures
from 150 001 to 300 000 no less than 3000 signatures
from 300 001 to 1 000 000 no less than 5000 signatures
1 000 001 and more no less than 8000 signatures

Voting is not obligatory as opposed to some other European states: Belgium, Greece and Bulgaria. Electronic voting is not used, but in case the citizen permanently resides outside the country, the policy states they have a right to vote by post [8].

Electoral commissions are formed for the duration of elections. Any citizen may become a member of the electoral commission on a random selection basis ("al azar por sorteo público" in Spanish), and participation in the work of the commission is obligatory in case a person is selected. If a selected person does not attend to their work as an electoral commission member, they are subjected to severe punishment by the state. The punishment includes imprisonment or a heavy fine.

The requirement for becoming a chair of an electoral commission ("un presidente" in Spanish) for a polling station is compulsory school education (equivalent to a high school diploma (11 years) or a secondary specialized school diploma in Russia). The chair of an electoral commission has two elected assistants ("dos vocales" in Spanish).

The independent model of electoral management is used in the Kingdom of Spain. This model involves independence of administrating authorities for elections, which is the most widespread model of electoral management in the world (the independent model is used in 114 countries, the mixed model is used in 31 countries, the governmental model is used in 40 countries) [9].

In the Kingdom of Spain, political parties have the right to send out ballot papers through post. This is not obligatory, since polling stations carry the same ballot papers. Not all parties send out ballots, only the parties that can cover postage and paper expenses.

Illustration 1. Pablo Iglesias, Secretary-General of Podemos: "If you think history has already been written, do not read this letter."

Voters get ballot papers for other parties on the Election Day. The ballot paper for the party of choice is put into an envelope. If two ballots are put into the envelope, the vote is nullified. Therefore, the parties send their ballots through post so that voters could make their decision at home. The voters may refuse from receiving ballots this way. A large number of such refusals was registered in the first half of 2019.

On May 26, 2019, the author observed the voting procedures at a polling station in the Spanish city of Seville.

Illustration 2. Photo from a Spanish polling station.

The voting officially began at 9AM and ended at 8PM.

Illustration 3. Electoral college business hours for the entire election day ("la jornada electoral" in Spanish): "We open at 9AM. We close at 8PM."

The voting procedure was comprised of three steps.

The first step involved the voter presenting their DNE identity card so that their first and last names could be used to search for their voter's number on the list. The second step involved the second member of electoral commission putting the voter's number and their DNE number on the list of attendees. The third step involved the third member of electoral commission opening the transparent ballot box so that the voter could put their envelope containing the ballot for a certain party or candidate. As can be seen, the voting procedure is quite simple.

Illustration 4. The parties mail similar ballot papers to the voters.

Despite the fact that the ballot boxes at all polling stations are transparent, the secrecy of vote is preserved since the ballot paper with the vote for a party or candidate is put into an envelope. The envelope ensures that the voter's decision is kept secret.

Illustration 5. A ballot box for electing deputies to the European Parliament.

Each member of electoral commission was given a booklet describing the guidelines to managing the voting procedure.

Illustration 6. The booklet for the members of electoral commission.

Each party appointed an observer to the polling station ("apoderados de los partidos políticos" in Spanish). Several police officers were present to maintain order at the polling station. There were no cameras.

The latest news and updates from the polling stations could be found on an official application called 26M Elecciones 2019, which was developed by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior. There were other applications, but the most reliable information could be found on this app, which was available for download on Google Play (Android) and App Store (iOS).

The following were the main hashtags used on Twitter: #Elecciones26M, #EleccionesUE2019, #26M.

Is there a possibility of election fraud or violations during the Spanish elections? No cases of election fraud or violations at the polling stations were detected during the observed election. It is possible, however, that election fraud took place in senior centers or monasteries/convents during previous elections. In Spain, there are still convents where the nuns are not allowed to leave the premises on their own accord. In the past, it was possible for a senior center director or a Mother/Father Superior to show proper identification of their wards and put their ballot envelopes into the ballot box. It was impossible to supervise such votes.

People's Sentiment towards Elections in Spain

The recent elections were important for the population of Spain.

Illustration 7. Ballot papers at local elections in May 2019. A picture of a Spanish polling station.

The Spanish people were very active during the combined 2019 elections. The author has conducted a small survey among the voters at a polling station in Andalucía on the single voting day in May 2019.

The answers to question of "How often do you go voting?" were as follows: "Always" ("Siempre participo"); "I always go to Spanish elections, but rarely to autonomous" ("En las elecciones de España siempre, si son Generales, pero en las autonómicas, a veces"); "I try to go to every election" ("Intento participar en todas").

The answers to question of "Why do you vote at the 2019 elections?" were as follows: "This is my right as a citizen" ("Es un derecho como ciudadano"); "I believe voting is important even if we do not agree with the final result, otherwise we would not have any right to comment on them or ask questions" ("Creo que es importante participar activamente aunque no estemos deacuerdo con los resultados finales, de lo contrario no tendríamos derecho a opinar o cuestionar"); "I want the party I identify with ideologically to represent me in Europe" ("Quiero que el partido con el que me identifico en ideas me represente en Europa").

The answers to question of "Will you vote in the 2024 European Parliament elections?" were largely positive, below are some examples: "I think I will!" ("Supongo que si!"); "Yes, as long as the European Union exists" ("Si, mientras siga existiendo la Unión Europea").

Political Parties of Spain

Pedro Sanchez is the leader of PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party). The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) became the country's leading party in June 2018 by successfully using the distrust towards People's Party (PP, or Partido Popular), the then-party-of-power, caused by corruption scandals of Mariano Rajoy Brey. The party's emblem colour is red.

The left-wing political party of Podemos (Spanish for "We can") stroke a coalition deal with PSOE. The party's emblem colour is purple. Pablo Iglesias Turrión – political scientist, politician and host – is the leader of Podemos.

Following the April 2019 elections, the center-left PP (People's Party, or Partido Popular) lost a large number of votes, achieving the worst result in its history since 1979. Pablo Casado, the leader of People's Party, has a degree in Law. He replaced Mariano Rajoy Brey after the latter's resignation. The author believes that the current lack of support at the elections is due to the party's new leadership. Another reason for low results is the fact of certain members being prosecuted for corruption. The party criticizes PSOE and Podemos. The party's emblem colour is blue.

Albert Rivera, a lawyer, is the founder and leader of Citizens (Ciudadanos). The party strongly opposes nationalism. The party organized numerous rallies in support of peaceful resolution of Catalonia crisis. Advertising such as billboards, posters and leaflets is largely used in party's election campaigns. The party's emblem colour is orange.

Illustration 8. A Citizens leaflet during the European Parliament elections. Leader of the party Albert Rivera and press secretary Inés Arrimadas in the Parliament of Catalonia. "Let's go!"

Santiago Abascal is the leader of the far-right Vox party (Spanish for "Voice"). The party failed to get any seats in the European Parliament in 2014 as opposed to 2019. The policy of the right-wing Vox promotes strengthening of Spanish sovereignty against the European Union (EU). People's Party supports Vox, which has caused a split inside the former. The support of Vox is in turn important for People's Party. The coalition of PP, Citizens and Vox is preventing PSOE and Podemos from gaining enough votes to become fully independent from these parties in forming the Government of Spain. The party's emblem colour is green.

Pedro Sanchez and PSOE turned the far-right Vox to their advantage by constantly stressing the threat that Vox poses to such "key" issues as feminism and historical memory in order to mobilize the socialist electorate. In his turn, Santiago Abascal, the leader of Vox, constantly stresses the breakthrough his party has made and promises to counter the left-wing PSOE and Podemos.

Ahora Repúblicas is an electoral alliance formed by left-wing republicans from Catalonia in order to contest the 2019 European Parliament elections in Spain. Oriol Junqueras is the leader of this alliance, currently in prison for charges of rebellion.

Junts per Catalunya is a political party formed in Catalonia on November 13, 2017 to contest an early election to the 135-seat Parliament of Catalonia. The party placed second overall and first among the three parties that openly support Catalan independence from the Kingdom of Spain. Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the party, is currently in Belgium to avoid prosecution from Spanish authorities.

En Comú Podem is an electoral coalition comprised of representatives of United and Alternative Left, Catalunya en Comú, Podemos and Revolta Global-Esquerra Anticapitalista. The coalition is represented in the Congress of Deputies. Jaume Asens, a lawyer, is the leader of this coalition.

Coalition for a Solidary Europe or CEUS is an electoral bloc of regional parties that contested the 2019 European Parliament election.

In 2018, there was a split inside Podemos: Manuela Carmena Castrillo (a Spanish lawyer and politician, the mayor of Madrid from 2015 to 2019) and Íñigo Errejón (former secretary for campaigning of Podemos), the key members of Podemos, left the party to form a new one – Más Madrid – in November 2018. Más Madrid is very popular in the city of Madrid with a population of more than 6.5 million. Podemos actually lost some votes to the newly founded Más Madrid at the municipal elections. On September 25 in 2019, Íñigo Errejón formed a new political party called Más País to contest the November parliamentary election.

At regional elections, the country's leading parties sometimes strike coalition deals with regional parties.

The Basque Nationalist Party is based on Basque nationalist ideology and the idea of independent or autonomous Basque state. Andoni Ortuzar, a journalist and politician, is the leader of the party.

The party of Chunta Aragonesista advocates for federal state, increased funding for the autonomous community of Aragon, protection of environment and water resources of the Ebro river valley and preservation of Aragonese language. José Luis Soro is the leader of the party.

The Aragonese Party is yet another Aragon advocate in Spain. Arturo Aliaga López is the chair of the party.

The United Left of Aragon is led by Adolfo Barrena Salces, a great supporter of environmental causes and an advocate for renewable energy sources.

Canarian Coalition or CC (Canarian nationalist party) was formed in 1993. It unites nationalists, communists and conservatives. Fernando Clavijo Batlle, the former president of the autonomous community of the Canary Islands, is the leader of the party.

Navarra Suma electoral alliance, or NA+, was formed shortly before the parliamentary and municipal elections in Spain in 2019. The alliance is comprised of Navarrese People's Union (a political party active in the autonomous community of Navarre), Citizens (Ciudadanos), and People's Party of Navarre (Partido Popular de Navarra). José Javier Esparza, the current president of the autonomous community of Nevarra, is the leader of the party.

Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG is a "political front" of the left-wing nationalist parties and individual members in the autonomous community of Galicia. Xosé Manuel Beiras – a Galician politician, economist, writer and professor of the University of Santiago de Compostela – is the leader of the party.

En Marea is a coalition formed by Podemos, Anova, United Left of Galicia and some other municipal coalitions. Luís Villares Naveira – a Spanish lawyer and candidate for President of Galicia in the 2016 Galician parliamentary election – is the leader of the party.

Regionalist Party of Cantabria or PRC was created in 1976 to protect Cantabria's interests. The leader of the party is Miguel Ángel Revilla, a famous Spanish politician, economist and the 9th President of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria.

The Adelante Andalucía electoral coalition was formed by Podemos Andalucía to contest the 2018 regional election in Andalucía. It was formed by United Left/The Greens–Assembly for Andalusia, Andalusian Left and Andalusian Spring. The last two parties were created after the Andalusian Party was dissolved. The leaders of the party are Teresa Rodríguez, a teacher and Arabian language specialist, and Antonio Maíllo, a Spanish professor and politician.

Compromís is a political coalition created by the Valencian Nationalist Bloc. Enric Morera, who was a member of European Parliament in 2004, is the leader of the party.

Teruel Existe or TE ("Teruel Exists") is a civil defense office in Teruel, Spain. Tomás Guitarte, a Spanish architect and politician, is the leader of the party.

Early Parliamentary Elections of April 2016

The previous parliamentary elections were held on June 26, 2019.

Following this election, People's Party (PP) struck a coalition deal with Citizens and Canarian Coalition to form a minority government.

On May 24 in 2018, the Audiencia Nacional (National Court of Spain) finalized the so-called Gürtel case. The case implicated that ever since its forming in 1989, the People's Party (PP) used an illicit funding system. On May 25 in 2018, the Congress of Deputies registered a motion of no confidence from PSOE towards Mariano Rajoy Brey. PSOE also demanded an early election. A vote on the no confidence motion was held on June 1: 180 voted "yes," 169 voted "no" and 1 abstained. Mariano Rajoy Brey and resigned from his posts as Prime Minister and People's Party leader. He was replaced by Pablo Casado.

Pedro Sanchez took over the new minority government with the support from the parties that favored the vote of no confidence towards Mariano Rajoy Brey and his Government.

On February 13 in 2019, the Congress of Deputies declined the government-spending bill and refused to support the socialist government. This was followed by announcement that Pedro Sanchez would schedule an early election for April 2019 while the specific date would be announced after the Council of Ministers on February 15, 2019.

On March 4 of 2019, upon the motion of Pedro Sanchez, the King of Spain signed a decree to dissolve Parliament and hold a rerun of national elections on April 28, 2019. This date was chosen to avoid the election from overlapping with municipal and autonomous elections as well as the European Parliament elections.

PSOE's goal was to win the April parliamentary elections since in that case Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the party, could become Prime Minister of Spain. PP was the main contestant for PSOE at this election, as well as other major Spanish parties: Citizens, Podemos and the newly formed far-right Vox.

Illustration 9. Invitation to Spanish parliamentary election of April 28, 2019 (register of voters ("oficina del censo electoral"), voter's card ("tarjeta censal"), the election of April 28, 2019 (elecciones 28 de Abril 2019), open the invitation to see the polling station where you have the right to vote ("abrir la tarjeta para ver la mesa y el local electoral donde le corresponde votar").

Table 5. The results of April 2019 parliamentary election in the Kingdom of Spain
Name of the party Number of votes Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) 7,513,142 123 28.67%
PP (People's Party) (National ultra-right party) 4,373,653 66 16.69%
Citizens 4,155,665 57 15.86%
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 3,135,480 33 11.97%
Vox (Spanish for "Voice") 2,688,092 24 10.26%
Republican Left of Catalonia–Sovereigntists 1,020,392 15 3.89%
En Comú Podem electoral alliance (Spanish for "In Common We Can") 615.665 7 2.35%
Junts per Catalunya (Spanish for "Together for Catalonia") 500.787 7 1.91%
Basque Nationalist Party 395.884 6 1.51%
Euskal Herria Bildu ("Basque Country Unite," a leftist Basque nationalist political coalition) 259.647 4 0.99%
En Común-Unidas Podemos electoral alliance ("In Common–United We Can") 238.061 2 0.91%
Compromís, a political coalition 173.821 1 0.66%
Canarian Coalition or CC (Canarian nationalist party) 137.664 2 0.53%
Navarra Suma electoral alliance, or NA+, comprised of Navarrese People's Union, Citizens and People's Party of Navarre 107,619 2 0.41%
Regionalist Party of Cantabria or PRC 52,266 1 0.20%

The turnout was 71.76%.

Vox achieved strong results, which allowed it to become the fifth party in the Spanish parliament while promoting a far-right policy. It is obvious that the new parties the Kingdom of Spain have a decent chance of winning the elections.

In his article, Stuart J. Turnbull-Dugarte analyzes Vox's success in the elections and emerging far-right tendencies in the party system of Spain. He notes that increased support towards the right is a direct result of Catalonia crisis [14].

European Parliament Elections

All EU countries held the elections to the European Parliament in May 2019. The citizens of Spain elected 54 of their representatives to the European Parliament on May 26, 2019. The chairs of the five parties elected to the Spanish parliament following the April 2019 elections took part in a debate before the European elections. A website was created to store all the necessary information on the electoral process in the Kingdom of Spain [3]. The slogan of this European election was published there as well: "By voting, you can determine what Europe is going to be like in the next few years in terms of employment, business, security, immigration and climate change." The author believes the slogan includes all of the key issues that concern the country's population.

The European Parliament elections were the most important elections for the country. The author believes that the Kingdom of Spain was striving to increase the voter turnout at the European Parliament election, which is why this election was combined with regional and municipal elections. The European Parliament election votes were tallied first. The results of this election could not be published before 11PM on Sunday, May 26, 2019.

Voter turnout at the 2014 European Parliament elections was quite low, amounting to 43.81%. The combined municipal, regional and European elections increased the turnout to 64.30%. Spanish experts also attribute the high turnout to combined election, saying that the European Parliament elections are "secondary in importance for the Spaniards."

Table 6. The 2019 European Parliament election results for the Kingdom of Spain
Name of the party Number of votes Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) 7,359,617 20 32.86 %
PP (People's Party) (National ultra-right party) 4,510,193 12 20.15 %
Citizens 2,726,642 7 12.18 %
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 2,252,378 6 10.07 %
Vox (Spanish for "Voice") 1,388,681 3 6.21 %
Ahora Repúblicas (Republics Now), an electoral coalition 1,257,484 3 5.58 %
Junts per Catalunya (Spanish for "Together for Catalonia") 1,025,411 2 4.54 %
CEUS – Coalition for a Solidary Europe 633.265 1 2.82 %

Other parties contested the European Parliament elections, including the recently formed ones, although they did not gain enough votes to send their representative to the European Parliament: CpE (a Spanish voters' list at the 2019 European Parliament elections in Spain, 1.32%), PACMA (Party Against Mistreatment of Animals, 1.32%) and others (1.96%).

Such results of the elections in Spain were to be expected. A relative majority of the people voted for electing the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) to the European Parliament, so the PSOE gained the largest number of Spanish seats in the European Parliament. PSOE's victory is not accidental, since the party has extensive experience in preparing for and contesting elections. The leader of the party was popular and famous enough to be elected Prime Minister of Spain, and his government managed to achieve stable economic growth.

Gaining the majority of votes at the combined elections was important for PSOE since the coalition with Podemos did not provide a sufficient majority to form a government following the April election. By gaining the majority vote at the European Parliament elections, PSOE strengthened its position both outside and inside the country.

The lower results of People's Party and Citizens compared to the previous election were due to Vox entering the arena. Part of the votes for these two parties clearly went over to the recently founded party.

Spanish representatives working in the European Parliament allow Spain to direct the EU's attention to issues of climate change and immigration. On December 1, Josep Borrell, the leader of PSOE in the European Parliament, was appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (the chief coordinator and representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy within the European Union).

Table 7. The representatives of political parties from the Kingdom of Spain in European Parliament factions following May 2019 European Parliament election
The Kingdom of Spain party The number of MEPs European faction
PSOE 20 Social Democrats (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, S&D)
PP 12 Center-right (European People's Party, EPP)
Citizens) 7 Liberals (Renew Europe, Renew)
CEUS – Coalition for a Solidary Europe 1
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 1 Green parties (Greens-European Free Alliance, Greens–EFA)
Ahora Repúblicas (Republics Now), an electoral coalition 1
Vox (Spanish for "Voice") 3 Eurosceptics (European Conservatives and Reformists)
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 5 Left-wing (European United Left–Nordic Green Left, GUE-NGL)
Ahora Repúblicas (Republics Now), an electoral coalition 1
Junts per Catalunya (Spanish for "Together for Catalonia") 2 Other (Non-inscrits)
Ahora Repúblicas (Republics Now), an electoral coalition 1

In case Brexit goes ahead, the Kingdom of Spain will get 59 seats in the European Parliament. Leading Spanish parties will be able to equally contest the vacant seats. Based on the results of the 2019 European Parliament election, the author assumes that PSOE might get at least two seats out of five. The number of social democrats representing Spain in the European Parliament will increase in this case. This will be a small contribution against the increasing number of populist representation in the European Parliament.

Regional Elections

The 2019 regional elections in Spain were held in order to elect regional parliaments of 12 autonomous communities out of 17 – Aragon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile and León, Castilla–La Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre (except Andalucía, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia and Valencian Community). Voter turnout at regional elections in these autonomous communities amounted to 66.84%.

Table 8. The results of May 2019 regional election in the Kingdom of Spain
Name of the party Number of votes Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) 3,284,810 259 32.00 %
PP (People's Party) (National ultra-right party) 2,427,062 178 23.64%
Citizens 1,435,876 87 13.99 %
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 669.509 36 6.52 %
Vox (Spanish for "Voice") 684.312 27 6.67%
Más Madrid (More Madrid) 471.538 20 4.59%
Navarra Suma electoral alliance, or NA+ 124.336 19 1.21%
Canarian Coalition, or CC (Canarian nationalist party) 194.846 17 1.90%
Regionalist Party of Cantabria, or PRC 122.479 15 1.19%

As can be seen from table 8, the regional parties were more successful in the autonomous community of the Canary Islands and the autonomous community of Cantabria. The leaders of these parties either were or are running the governments of autonomous communities. Some of them previously occupied key positions in Spain's major political parties.

Most voters across Spanish provinces and autonomous cities give their vote to the country's major parties. Nevertheless, the regional parties from the autonomous communities are very likely to succeed since they are able to unite the voters based on their residence in one of the autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain. Regional parties of autonomous communities represent the interests of specific regions of Spain. Such parties are typically led by experienced politicians who used to occupy key positions in Spain's major political parties.

The success of the regional parties winning the 2019 elections can among other things be explained by the fact that these are nationalist and populist parties, created and acting inside the autonomous communities.

Regional elections in Andalucía were held on December 2, 2018. The turnout was 56.44%.

Table 9. The results of 2018 regional election in Andalucía
Name of the party Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) 33 27.95%
PP (People's Party) (National ultra-right party) 26 20.75%
Citizens 21 18.27%
Adelante Andalucía (Forward Andalucía) 17 16.18%
Vox (Voice) 12 10.97%

Regional elections in Catalonia were held on December 21, 2017. The turnout was 79.09%.

The Catalan independence movement poses a serious issue for Spain. The politicians in this region are actively seeking to form a new independent state and are determined to do so at any cost while making their stand. Their desire is to ensure the recognition of Catalonia's right to self-determination both inside and outside Spain.

Table 10. The results of 2017 regional election in Catalonia
Name of the party Number of seats Share of votes
Citizens 36 25.35%
Junts per Catalunya (Spanish for "Together for Catalonia") 34 21.66%
ERC-CatSí (Republican Left of Catalonia–Catalonia Yes), a Catalan coalition for independence 32 21.38%
PSC, the socialist party of Catalonia 17 13.86%
Catalunya en Comú-Podem, a left-wing electoral coalition for self-government in Catalonia 8 7.46%
Popular Unity Candidacy, a left-wing pro-independence party 4 4.46%
PP 4 4.24%

The Citizens party success at this election may be explained by the fact that it organized numerous rallies in support of peaceful resolution of Catalonia crisis during its campaign.

Regional elections in Galicia and the Basque Country were held on September 25, 2016.

Table 11. The results of 2016 regional election in the Basque Country
Name of the party Number of seats Share of votes
Basque Nationalist Party 29 37.65%
Euskal Herria Bildu ("Basque Country Unite"), a political coalition (a left-wing Basque nationalist party lobbying for independence of the autonomous communities of Basque Country and Navarre). 17 21.23%
Elkarrekin Podemos ("United We Can"), a left-wing electoral alliance in the Basque Country 11 14.83%
PSE-EE, the socialist party of the Basque Country 9 11.94%
PP 9 10.16%
Citizens 0 2.02%

The turnout was 60.02%.

Table 12. The results of 2016 regional election in Galicia
Name of the party Number of seats Share of votes
PP 41 47.56%
En Marea, a coalition formed by Podemos, Anova, United Left of Galicia and some other municipal coalitions 14 19.07%
PSdeG-PSOE bloc 14 17.87%
Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG (a "political front" of the left-wing nationalist parties and individual members in the autonomous community of Galicia) and Ana Ponton 6 8.33%

The turnout was 53.63%.

Regional elections in the autonomous community of Valencia were combined with parliamentary elections of April 28, 2019.

Table 13. The results of April 2019 regional election in the Valencian Community
Name of the party Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE 27 23.87 %
PP 19 18.85 %
Ciudadanos (Citizens) 18 17.45%
The Compromís political coalition was formed by the Valencian Nationalist Bloc 17 16.44%
Vox (Voice) 10 10.44 %
Unides Podem coalition 8 7.98%

The turnout was 73.73%.

Municipal Elections

At the municipal elections, members of all municipalities as well as mayors were elected by plurality voting.

Foreign citizens did not have the right to vote at the European Parliament elections, but did at the municipal elections. This right is only granted to citizens of the Republic of Cabo Verde, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Iceland, the Republic of Peru, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Ecuador, the Kingdom of Norway, the New Zealand, the Republic of Paraguay and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Table 14. The results of 2019 municipal election in the Kingdom of Spain
Name of the party Number of votes Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) 6,657,119 22.329 29.26%
PP (People's Party) (National ultra-right party) 5,058,542 20.325 22.23%
Citizens 1,876,906 2788 8.25%
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya-Sobiranistes (Republican Left of Catalonia–Sovereigntists) 821.116 3109 3.61%
Vox (Spanish for "Voice") 659.736 530 2.90%
Junts per Catalunya (Spanish for "Together for Catalonia") 537.600 3109 2.36%
Más Madrid (More Madrid) 518.463 27 2.28%
Basque Nationalist Party 403.654 1052 1.77%
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 364.370 668 1.60%

Podemos did not realize its full potential at the municipal elections.

The Challenge of Forming the Government of Spain Following the April 2019 Parliamentary Elections

The elections held in April and May in 2019 resulted in PSOE scoring a victory in every type of elections, after which it attempted to form the Government of Spain without allying itself with any other party.

Two months after the parliamentary elections, the King of Spain held a meeting with the leaders of the winning parties. The meeting resulted in the King of Spain nominating a candidate for the head of the Spanish government. It is possible for the king to nominate a candidate out of the winning party representatives at sole judgement without considering the election results. The king typically chooses the leader of the party that scored the most votes at the parliamentary elections. This year, Felipe VI proposed Pedro Sanchez as Prime Ministerial candidate. Richard Gillespie emphasizes the fact that "forming the Government of Spain is one of the functions of parliament, and its negative influence stemming from the lack of consensus is obvious" [5].

Podemos does support PSOE, although many its representatives abstained from voting for Pedro Sanchez's candidacy for the Prime Minister of Spain. The situation arose from the fact that PSOE did express approval for Podemos representation in the new Spanish government. Some PSOE voters disapprove of the PSOE-Podemos coalition.

For PSOE to form the Government of Spain singlehandedly, the deputies in the parliament should have voted Pedro Sanchez for Prime Minister of Spain. The first round requires the Prime Minister candidate to gain the support of absolute majority, which amounts to 176 votes of total number of deputies of the Spanish parliament. If the candidate failed to do so in the first round, the second round requires him or her to gain more "yes" votes than "no." Pedro Sanchez failed to gain enough votes in both rounds.

Early Parliamentary Elections of November 2016

The parties were supposed to prepare an agreement on coalition government on December 20, 2019. They did not reach consensus, which is why the new parliamentary elections were held in November 2019.

Table 15. The results of November 2019 parliamentary election in the Kingdom of Spain
Name of the party Number of votes Number of seats Share of votes
PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) 6,792,199 120 28%
PP (People's Party) (National ultra-right party) 5,047,040 89 20.82%
Vox (Spanish for "Voice") 3,656,979 52 15.09%
Podemos (Spanish for "We can") 2,381,960 26 9.80%
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya-Sobiranistes (Republican Left of Catalonia–Sovereigntists) 874.859 13 3.61%
Citizens 1,650,318 10 6.79%
Junts per Catalunya (Spanish for "Together for Catalonia") 530.225 8 2.19%
En Comú Podem, an electoral coalition (Spanish for "In Common We Can") 549.173 7 2.27%
Basque Nationalist Party 379.002 6 1.57%
Euskal Herria Bildu ("Basque Country Unite," a leftist Basque nationalist political coalition) 277.621 5 1.15%
Más País ("More Country") 406.019 2 1.35%
Popular Unity Candidacy or CUP (Candidatura de Unidad Popular, a left-wing party in Catalonia) 246.971 2 1.01%
En Común ("Common Group of the Left") electoral alliance 188.231 2 0.77%
Canarian Coalition or CC (Canarian nationalist party) 124.289 2 0.51%
Navarra Suma electoral alliance, or NA+, consist of Navarrese People's Union (Unión del Pueblo Navarro), Citizens (Ciudadanos), and People's Party of Navarre (Partido Popular de Navarra) 99.078 2 0.41%
Més Compromís ("More Commitment"), a political coalition 176.287 1 0.73%
Galician Nationalist Bloc, or BNG (a "political front" of the left-wing nationalist parties and individual members in the autonomous community of Galicia) 120.456 1 0.5%
Regionalist Party of Cantabria, or PRC 68.830 1 0.28%
Teruel Existe, or TE ("Teruel Exists"), a civil defense office in Teruel, Spain 19.761 1 0.08%

As can be seen in Table 16, the parliamentary elections alone hold much importance for Spanish voters and always attract a high turnout. Since parliamentary parties were unable to form a government following the 2019 parliamentary election, the turnout for November 2019 election dropped.

Table 16. Voter turnout at parliamentary elections from 2011 to 2019
Election year Turnout Change from the previous election
2011 71.71% –2.1%
2015 73.2% +1.5%
2016 69.84% –3.4%
April 2019 71.76% +5.3%
November 2019 66.23% –5.5%

PSOE lost three seats following the November election as opposed to April election and largely kept its positions. Voters who voted PSOE would prefer it if Pedro Sanchez directly told Citizens that he would not enter into the agreement on forming a new coalition government with them. Pedro Sanchez said neither "yes" nor "no." Still, striking a deal with Citizens instead of Podemos would be more useful for Sanchez since Podemos had a much stronger stance on all political issues, which would make it more difficult to control than Citizens.

Citizens gained very little votes since the voters did not approve of the recent decisions made by the party. In this election campaign, the party did not have a clear stance on a number of important political issues. One set of issues was viewed from the right-wing perspective, while the other was viewed from the left-wing perspective. The voters used to vote Citizens hoping that this party will strike a coalition deal with PSOE. However, the members of Citizens kept saying they would only strike coalition deals with the parties that offered better terms. The leader of the party, Albert Rivera, resigned after his party lost most of the seats in the parliament, preserving only 10. José Manuel Villegas took over as the new leader of the party.

PP reclaimed the seats it lost earlier at the expense of seats lost by Citizens. Part of the usual Citizens voters gave their votes to PP at the November parliamentary elections. PP had a more consistent stance on the coalition arrangement with PSOE. PP is consistently against striking such deals.

Vox made an even greater breakthrough by gaining 52 seats in the parliament, owing it to a much clearer political position. Vox increased its result at the expense of Citizens and PP losing voters to them.

The Republican Left of Catalonia–Sovereigntists gained 13 seats despite nine independent politicians (including Oriol Junqueras, the leader of the party) being sentenced to 9 to 13 years of imprisonment for charges of sedition in Catalonia. If this party strikes a coalition deal with PSOE and Podemos, the Government of Spain could be formed. However, the Republican Left of Catalonia–Sovereigntists has a critical stance towards PSOE.

The deal has been struck between PSOE and Podemos, under which Pedro Sanchez becomes the Prime Minister while Pablo Iglesias becomes Deputy Prime Minister. The party of Más País supported the decision.

The November parliamentary elections demonstrated the existing potential of regional parties from autonomous communities (Popular Unity Candidacy, Canarian Coalition, Galician Nationalist Bloc and Regionalist Party of Cantabria).

Two months after the parliamentary elections of November 2019, the King of Spain will hold another meeting with the leaders of the winning parties to propose a Prime Ministerial candidate.

The election dates for the next 5 years are currently fixed.

Conclusion

Early parliamentary election was held in April 2019, while May 2019 saw combined European Parliament elections, municipal elections and elections in autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain. After a new government failed to form in the Kingdom of Spain, new early parliamentary elections were held in November 2019. By analyzing the results of all types of elections in the Kingdom of Spain, it is possible to summarize the results of the 2019 electoral cycle.

The turnout for this electoral cycle to European Parliament was higher than for the 2014 electoral cycle. The author believes that the Kingdom of Spain was striving to increase the voter turnout at the European Parliament election, which is why this election was combined with regional and municipal elections.

Parliamentary elections alone hold much importance for Spanish voters and always attract a high turnout.

The PSOE received the majority vote in all types of elections.

European Parliament election strengthened the political position of PSOE within the Kingdom of Spain. After all the elections ended, PSOE and its leader made it their goal to form the Government without the involvement of other parties despite their alliance with Podemos.

Following the November parliamentary elections, PSOE kept most of its seats, while the far-right Vox party became one of the three major parties in the country.

Most voters across Spanish provinces and autonomous cities give their vote to the country's major parties. Nevertheless, the regional parties from the autonomous communities are very likely to succeed since they are able to unite the voters based on their residence in one of the autonomous communities of the Kingdom of Spain.

Íñigo Errejón formed a new political party called Más País to contest the November parliamentary election. The party was able to secure seats in the parliament of the Kingdom of Spain.

Received 11.07.2019, revision received 16.12.2019.


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