Category Archives: General Election November 2011

Rubalcaba takes his fight to Brussles

As the crisis in the Eurozone rumbles on, and Italy teeters on the brink of economic disaster, threatening to pull Spain with it, you would expect the issue of Europe andSpain’s relationship with the EU to be at the centre of the main parties’ electoral campaigns.

Socialist candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba has sketched out how he believes the Government should deal with its EU partners. Continuing the quasi-aggressive theme of his campaign (his electoral slogan is “Fight for what you want!”), he said he would “go to Brussels to fight and convince, and not to receive orders… I want to defend the interests of the country inBrussels– Rajoy has never done it and never will.”

Listening to Rubalacaba you would think his party belonged to one of the European Parliament’s political groups fighting for a looser union and a return of powers to Member States.

Rather the PSOE in the European Parliament recently voted to maintain first class travel for all MEPs despite the economic crisis, and one of their Members was caught signing in to claim her daily allowance and then heading straight to the airport to return to Spain. Well, at least his MEPs have listened to his slogan – they are clearly fighting for what they want.

Rajoy joins the Twitteratti

We commented a few days ago that the internet presence of the main political parties was still woefully low. As if he heard us, PP leader Mariano Rajoy has opened his own personal Twitter account. Launched on Thursday, the conservative leader was quick to create a stir in the social networking world. In little over half an hour he had 2,600 followers. By Friday he had smashed the 20,000 mark and as this post is published he is heading close to 30,000.

Rajoy and his team have also been sure to avoid the pit falls that have befallen other political tweeters, many of whom it has been revealed, have not tweeted themselves but leave it up to their staff. All tweets posted by the leader himself will be followed by a signature “MR”, the rest will not, and will be written in the third person.

Finally, Rajoy’s team are clearly aware that celebrity sells, and one of the first tweets was a photo (pictured) of the PP leader on board an aeroplane with actor Santiago Segura and singer (and son of Julio Iglesias) Julio José Iglesias.

If you’re desperate to follow Rajoy’s Twitter account, you can do so here.

Díez faces challenge for leadership of UPyD

Rosa Díez, spokesman of the UPyD in Congress is facing a challenge from within her party today for the right to head the electoral lists at the forthcoming general election, and thereby become the de facto UPyD presidential candidate.

The party rules allow for any member to contest primary elections for the key posts without the need for a minimum level of support. This has allowed five members of the party to put their names forward to challenge Díez for first place in the lists for Madrid. The election will take place today, and all party members in the country will have a chance to vote.

Similar primaries are taking place in all the provinces across the country, as the UPyD seeks to establish which position each candidate will take in the forthcoming election. In Valencia, actor Toni Cantó (pictured) is seeking to head the lists.

Rajoy visits Catalonia to meet business leaders

Mariano Rajoy, leader of the main opposition party Partido Popular is visiting Catalonia today to meet with business leaders. As favourite to win the forthcoming general election, Rajoy will be fully conscious of the need to instil confidence in a region with which his party has had a sometimes difficult relationship.

The nationalist leanings of many Catalans have clashed with the solidly pro-united Spain conservative party, and Rajoy’s visit comes at a time when feelings are running high over a Supreme Court ruling which has ordered the Catalonian regional government to favour Castilian Spanish over Catalan in the education system.

Among the business leaders with whom Rajoy will hold a private dinner are the Chief Executives of banks such as La Caixa, Bankia and Banco Sabadell, and leading companies such as Repsol,Iberia and Pronovias.

The PP will be looking for a better showing in Catalonia at the general election than they achieved in 2008 – and this will be the first of several visits by Rajoy to the region during the campaign.

Spain’s political parties attempt to harness internet as electoral tool

Ever since the Obama campaign ignited America thanks to its creative use of social networks and the internet, European political parties have tried to ape the success in their own general elections. The UK’s last general election in 2010 was billed as the “Internet Election”, but the effect of the internet turned out to be a bit of a damp squib compared to expectations, and in comparison to the 2008 US Presidential elections.

And now, with their own general election just ten weeks away,Spain’s main parties are looking to extract maximum advantage from the World Wide Web. Yesterday, PP spokesman Esteban Gonzalez Pons, revealed that his leader and presidential candidate Mariano Rajoy was fully prepared for a “Twitter debate” with the PSOE candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

And this morning the PSOE themselves have launched their own internet initiative, launching a special web portal for people to communicate their “ideas, opinions, solutions and proposals”. This virtual political conference will be running from 30th September to 2nd October, and can be accessed here.

However, the political parties’ internet presence is on the whole pathetic, compared to other Western democracies. All the main parties have decent websites and tick the boxes with their Twitter pages, Facebook accounts etc, but their efforts so far have been, frankly, unimaginative.

In addition, very few elected politicians have their own personal website or blog, and there are few internet debating sites of any renown outside of those provided by the main stream media.

So although these initiatives are welcome in part of the much-needed process of bringing citizens closer to their politicians in Spain, it would be safe to assume that the internet is not going to change the course of the election in any significant way.

The first party that truly cracks the problem of engaging effectively with voters online will be set to reap the benefits

PSOE failing to emit confidence as polls point to defeat

The PSOE seems to be suffering a self-confidence crisis. As all the polls point to a huge victory for the conservative Partido Popular in November’s General Election, the Socialists are bracing themselves for heavy losses – with only die-hard loyalists such as José Bono trying to keep the flame of hope alive.

Newspaper ABC reports today that PSOE sources are expecting to lose as many as 15 of their 36 seats in Andalusia- traditional socialist heartland.

According to the paper, the party leadership is so concerned about the effects of a possible electoral bloodbath in Andalusia ahead of next year’s regional elections in the region that their presidential candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, is making repeated journeys to the area to try and prevent haemorrhage.

Rubalcaba himself has done little to stem the feeling of despondency in his camp today. When asked about what he will do in the event that his party loses the General Election, he did not dismiss the question as hypothetical as politicians so usually do, but rather said that he would make a decision about his future “on the night” of the election.

The PSOE will need to rediscover self-belief, and start emitting confidence – if they do not to see a landslide PP victory in November.

Blanco: The polls are wrong, the people prefer Rubalcaba

Some will view it as an ostrich-head-in-sand moment. Others will view it as a loyalist defending the corner of his embattled party. Either way, the comments of Public Works Minister José Blanco this morning have raised eyebrows.

Blanco has suggested that, even though the polls are unanimous in predicting victory for the PP, he believes they also show that “everybody prefers Rubalcaba as president [over Rajoy], they rate him higher and they believe that he can be the best Prime Minister.”

“For this reason,” he concludes, “I am sure that they will vote for the man they consider to be the best to govern”.

A valiant attempt to steady the socialist nerves, but perhaps he needs reminding that Rajoy was actually rated higher (albeit only just) than Rubalcaba in the latest opinion poll for El País

Chaves and Bono kiss and make up after spat

Readers will be pleased to hear that after their little spat yesterday over whether it is time for the old guard of the PSOE to stand aside for a new generation, Manuel Chaves and José Bono have publically kissed and made-up.

The President of the PSOE and the President of Congress declared themselves to be “great friends” this morning, in a bid to downplay the appearance of rifts at the heart of the socialist party.

“Pepe Bono and I are great friends,” Chaves declared at a breakfast meeting this morning, “and sometimes between friends there are unnecessary tiffs”.

Their row had come after Bono decided not to put himself forward for re-election at the forthcoming general election, preferring to hand over to a new generation of socialist leaders. Chaves, the current President of the PSOE and Vice President of the Government, took offence and seemed to accuse Bono and others of throwing in the towel now that victory seems difficult.

Aguirre not expecting invitation to join government

As the polls continue to indicate a thumping victory for the PP in November’s general election, the speculation over who will form Mariano Rajoy’s Government has already begun. 

However one party heavy-weight has today claimed that she is not expecting a phone call from her leader should the conservatives take power in ten weeks’ time.

Esperanza Aguirre (pictured), who was re-elected President of the Madrid region in May, is often portrayed in the press as the closest thing Rajoy has to a rival within the PP. This morning she told reporters that she is not expecting an invitation to join the Government because “Rajoy wants me in Madrid”.

When asked whether she would support a possible ministerial appointment for current Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, a smiling Aguirre replied that “everything” her party leader does seems to her to be “absolutely wonderful”.

It would be safe to interpret these comments as a light-hearted dig at all stories of rivalry between the two big beasts of the PP.

Another one bites the dust – and Chavés has had enough

We noted earlier that serving ministers were jumping ship and not seeking reelection at an alarming rate. As we mentioned before, this emphasises how low morale is in the PSOE camp, and how unlikely victory seems even for those at the very top. It is also a very poor reflection on their belief in their own presidential candidate, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

Now the announcement of José Bono (left), the President of the Congress, that he will not seek reelection and his suggestion that the old guard of the PSOE should make way for a younger generation has finally made one of Rubalcaba’s loyal lieutenants flip his lid. Manuel Chavés, the current Third Vice President of the Government and President of the PSOE, has hit out at colleagues who are throwing in the towel for an easier life. “It is easy,” he said this afternoon, “to give up when a large hole has opened in the boat.”

“I believe that everyone is needed – including Mr Bono,” he continued. “I am the President of the Socialist Party and I have a responsibility; nobody in my party would understand if I were to give up now”.

Nobody, that is, except Bono…or Salgado…or Sebastián…etc…