26 May 2011

¿Qué pasa?

Mayor of Alcala - but for how much longer?
Last Sunday, 22 May, municipal and regional elections were held across much of Spain.  The right-wing Partido Popular (People's Party or PP)  made sweeping gains across the country, as many people blame the country's economic woes on the Socialist Party (PSOE).  The PSOE are still in power in the national government, but are unlikely to win next year's general election unless some miracle happens in the meantime - the PP have a 10% lead.  Meanwhile, many left-wingers disillusioned with the austerity measures introduced by the PSOE voted instead for the Izquierda Unida (United Left or IU), adding to the PSOE's problems.

Locally, the PSOE (who have held power in Alcala since democracy returned to Spain in the 1980s) have come under increasingly intense criticism for enchufismo (string-pulling) and clannishness, awarding jobs and contracts to their friends and supporters.  A few months ago this came to a head with the removal of an Alcalá man, Gabriel Almagro, from the Diputación de Cádiz (equivalent to the County Council) followed by the resignation of the deputy head of the Junta de Andalucía, Luis Pizarro, in protest.  All is not well in the cuña de socialismo gaditano - but it does look relatively harmless compared to the levels of corruption unearthed in the past few years within the PP, and the smell of sour grapes hangs heavily in the air.

In Alcalá right now though, the air is full of questions. The results announced Sunday night indicated that the PSOE had maintained their majority, albeit reduced, with seven seats, the PP picking up four and the IU two.  However the following morning the scrutineers discovered a counting error, whereby 25 votes meant for the IU had been  wrongly allocated to the PP.  This resulted in a seat being transferred to the IU from the PSOE, leaving them with just six of the thirteen seats. 

Juan Carlos Fernández Luna - our next mayor?
This leaves the IU in an interesting position. Juan Carlos Fernández Luna, a local schoolteacher and leader of the IU in Alcalá, has called a meeting of affiliates and sympathisers to see if they would be willing to negotiate one of the other parties, but has so far not indicated what type of pact might be considered, or with whom.  Theoretically, if the IU formed a coalition with the PP they could outnumber the PSOE, but ideologically this would be highly controversial and alienate supporters of both parties (Nick Clegg might be able to offer some advice here).

Luna has publicly stated that he wants to take over as the town's Mayor in June - presumably this would be the price of his electoral support for one of the other parties.

The PSOE leader Javier Pizarro said that although in the citizens of Alcalá have given them a wake-up call, the Socialists still picked up more votes here than the other parties, and they would be prepared to govern either with a minority (as they did in the early 1990s) or with a pact with the IU.

Watch this space ...

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