The snap Spanish general election called on February 15th by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez came about after the Catalan parties his minority government relied on rejected his budget.
It was always going to be difficult for Sanchez, who has been in the job for less than a year, to pass his budget. Deep tensions still exist in Spain and the Catalan Question has most certainly not been resolved. Unfortunately for Sanchez, the trial of the Catalan leaders, accused of rebellion and misuse of public funds, began at almost the same time as budged negotiations came to a head.
I last wrote about Catalonia and Spanish politics in late 2017 and early 2018. This was at the time of the Independence referendum and the subsequent crackdown by Madrid at the behest of the former Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy.
Rajoy was forced to resign on June 1st, 2018 when he lost a Vote to No Confidence, called by Pedro Sanchez, following the sentencing of a former People's Party treasurer for 33 years for money laundering, among other crimes.
The law in Spain dictates that the leader of the party who successfully pass a Motion of No Confidence must form the next Government. Incredibly, that led to Pedro Sanchez becoming the Prime Minister despite his Socialist Party having less than a quarter of the total Congress seats.
Since then, the Socialist Party have polled consistently somewhere between 22% and 28%. In fact, they have placed first in over the last 20 polls stretching back since the election as called. While it is not inconceivable that they will not win the most seats on April 28th, they certainly look set to do so today.
I think it's fair to say they have benefited from a buoyant economy as Spain had a great second half of 2018 with economic growth set to hit 2.2% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020. There is a finally a sense of the "the good times are back" for many in Spain though this can rapidly change if Europe heads towards a recession.
The Socialist Party have benefited from a splintering of the right of centre vote. The Citizen's Party have taken quite a lot of former People's Party voters who became disillusioned with the corruption while the Vox Party, a more right-wing party, are now regularly polling at over 10%.
I will definitely start following the election campaign more closely as we reach the crescendo. I do believe that the Socialists will win most seats but forming a government will prove very difficult. We may end up seeing a coalition of the right, though it remains to be seen whether the People's Party or the Citizens would replicate their Andalusian coalition in a national election...