Spaniards go to the polls on Sunday to end months of political gridlock, and Britain’s historic vote to sever ties with the European Union could play an important, last-minute role. The election is an unprecedented repeat. The four main parties — the conservative Popular Party, the Socialist Party and two newcomers — were unable to form a coalition government after an inconclusive election in December. The Popular Party has acted as a caretaker government since then. Polls have indicated that the voting might again end in stalemate, prolonging the paralysis. But analysts say Brexit could further empower the anti-establishment, giving those most critical of European unity a boost. That might tip the scale in favor of the radical-leftist party, which had already looked set to oust the Socialists as the main voice on the left.
Spaniards are so angry about the inability of their leaders to work together that experts expect low participation on Sunday and say it is hard to predict the final outcome.
“Participation figures are going to drop with respect to the December election because some are very angry with the politicians and others are confused,” said Jose Diez Nicolas, who heads the Universidad Europea’s Department of Social Science Research. “It’s not that they are undecided. It’s that they don’t know who to vote for because there are so many messages flying around about who not to vote for.”
The Popular Party and the Socialists dominated Spanish governments for decades. But the two upstarts — the radical-leftist Unidos Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos — have shattered the hegemony of two-party politics. Their fresh-faced, 30-something leaders have added an element of energy to a mostly stagnant political landscape.