The European left can’t catch a break. There is more sad news from Spain. After the December 2015 elections shattered the traditional two-party system, and six months of failed negotiations detonated a call for re-elections, the new left coalition, Unidos Podemos, has failed to meet the number of seats that all polls had lined up for them. Last night, Pablo Iglesias’s plan to ‘take the heavens by storm’ has suffered a major setback since Podemos’s meteoric rise began two years ago.
1. Great expectations, mediocre results.
The polls didn’t even get the voter turnout right, which remained higher than assumed (69%). But the real problem came in estimating the vote transfers of left-wing voters.
For weeks, polls were suggesting a low mobilisation of centre-ground parties and a sharp polarisation on both ends of the ideological spectrum. The 7.30pm exit polls confirmed these expectations and projected a whopping 95 seats for Unidos Podemos (up from a combined 71 in December), overtaking centre-left rival PSOE (the party of old social democracy) – the main objective of these re-elections. Three hours later, as results started coming in, this didn’t happen: Unidos Podemos had stagnated at 71 seats and lost over a million votes. Against all odds, PSOE has somehow resisted the encroachment of the anti-austerity radicals and defended the throne of the parliamentary left.