New future ahead for Spain after the General Election Day?

by Natalia Rodríguez Domínguez

Mariano Rajoy, new president of Spanish Goverment

Will Spanish General Election results mark the beginning of a new era for the country to get over its worst-ever economic crisis?

This year’s elections have been dominated by Spain’s deepest debt crisis. In his victory speech, Mariano Rajoy, new President of the Spanish Government stated: “There won’t be any miracles. We never promised any”. However, despite the seriousness of the current situation, he also expressed his optimism: “As we have said before, when things are done properly, the results come in.”

Rajoy has encouraged all Spanish citizens to join together and act as a whole nation in order to fight against the crisis and try to restore Spain’s financial health. His advice is to work as a unit and try to gain back respect in Europe.

Last Sunday, 20th November, Spain’s Conservative Popular Party won overwhelming victory over the then-ruling Socialist Party, which suffered its worst defeat since the start of Spanish Democracy. The Popular Party won about 45% of the votes (10,830,693) while the Socialists received only 29% (6,973,880).

The landslide victory of opposition leader Mariano Rajoy meant that his Popular Party won 186 seats in parliament, compared with the 154 they had in the last administration. As far as the Socialists are concerned, their party dropped from 169 to 110 – their worst performance in parliament since records began. The Socialist Party, which has governed in Spain since 2004, had no choice but to concede to a crushing defeat.

As the final report for the count of votes was revealed, many citizens have expressed their indignation against the method traditionally used for allocating the lower house seats in Spain.

The D’Hondt method is party-list system based on proportional representation, it was first conceived by the Belgian mathematician Victor D’Hondt, in 1878. This system slightly favours large parties and coalitions over small parties regardless of the number of votes. This means that parties with the highest number of votes do not necessarily get the most seats.

In the case of Spain’s latest General Elections, the use of this method has meant that UPyD Centre Party only won 5 seats at the Parliament despite having received 1,140,242 votes. Whilst other parties with less votes have been allocated a higher number of seats; AMAIUR Party was voted by 333,628 people, but thanks to the D’Hondt Method, they won 7 seats (2 over UPyD).

The voting system has come under scrutiny from the Spanish public with critics claiming the old system is undemocratic. Pressure is mounting to adopt a new method, which gives a fairer representation of seats, based on the number of votes cast.