What’s going on in Spanish politics with three general elections in just four years?

For four decades, the political institutions of Spain have been fought over by two major parties that reflected the Centre-Right/Centre-Left divisions in so much of European politics – a system known in Spain as “bipartidismo”. But chronic corruption in the political system and the economic crisis of recent years following the global downturn, which saw a double dip recesssion and unemployment peaking at 26%, has led to the perceived failure of the two establishment parties and given rise to tumultuous electoral change that is still working its way through the system.

Spain is a country deeply divided along several political clevages: Right-wing vs Left-wing, old parties vs new parties, centralist vs federalist. Consequently, the Spanish political landscape is in a state of profound flux and the general elections of December 2015, June 2016 and April 2019 – three polls in just four years – represented a major upset to the political establishment of the nation. 

After six months with a caretaker government between the first two of these elections, following the second election, there was a further period of 10 months with another caretaker government, before the People’s Party was allowed to form a minority administration which fell in June 2018. Now the most recent election has failed to return a party with an overall majority and coalition talks are in progress.

For an explanation of how the Spanish political system works and the result of the recent general election, check out my guide here.


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