As predicted by most polls yesterday, the Spanish Socialist party won a narrow victory over the Popular Party yesterday. Turn-out was the lowest of any elections held since democracy was restored in Spain after Franco’s death – over 50% of the Spanish electorate chose to stay at home in spite of the fact that, as usual, polling was held on a Sunday and voters could go to their polling station from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
The result of the ballot was very close, with PSOE party winning just 2 more seats than the PP. Popular Party leaders and candidates said they were delighted with their party’s performance which, according to party spokesmen, proved that Spaniards want a strong opposition. In his end-of-election-night speech, the Socialist candidate Borell thanked voters for their support and said the margen would have been greater if more people had gone to vote.
All Spanish newspapers include headlines referring to the unprecedented low levels of voters’ participation in these elections this morning:
– “Abstention reaches an all-time record” (Cadena Ser)
– “Abstention is the winner of the European Elections” (El Pais)
– “PSOE wins elections marked by the high level of abstention” (El Mundo)
– “General indifference” (La Razon)
Infact there has been a feeling of apathy and indifference surrounding these elections right from the start of the campaign.
As I mentioned yesterday, it will be a relief not to have any more elections in Spain for a while. Even Cadena Ser substituted its traditional Election Night live programme at the last minute with football commentary from the England versus France match in Portugal, probably because they realised that interest in the elections was at an all time low.
They interrupted the match commentary with occasional updates on results and with the speeches made by Borell and Mayor Oreja, but the emphasis was on sports rather than politics.
It is more difficult to explain the level of absentees in France, Germany, Italy.. and especially in in the new member states. Political commentators in the Spanish media stress this morning that given the general lack of interest among voters throughout Europe, and with anti-EU parties getting excellent results in countries like Britain, it is difficult to know how Europe can proceed towards further integration and a constitution, when Europeans seem to be at least uninterested in the whole process, and at worst highly sceptical.