Free The End Of Bipartisan Politics In Spain Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Politics, Spain, Elections, Party, Monarchy, Political Parties, Corruption, Family

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2021/01/31


“In a normal democracy, should the head of state be elected based on his blood, or on the votes?” questioned populist leader Pablo Iglesias (Iglesias, as cited in “Pablo Iglesias of PODEMOS”). On June 2nd 2014, Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, publically announced that he was abdicating the Spanish, and his intention for Felipe, his son, after thirty nine years since the demise of Franco in 1975, made Spaniards quite happy. That same night in Puerta del Sol, various grassroots movements sprung up in Spain’s capital, a time referred to as the “spring of the Indignants and the youth-conducted movements,” which had taken place in Madrid for almost a decade. These movements were filled with republican flags flying everywhere and eager citizens calling for a referendum regarding the future of the revered Spanish monarchy. This request was time and again ignored by the Spanish government, and Felipe, an American-educated graduate from Georgetown University, who was also an Olympian who participated on the Olympic team for Spain and often called a polyglot, inherited the throne of the Spanish Crown merely two weeks after his father’s abdication. Felipe and his wife Letizia maintained a low profile by avoiding the press, tabloids, and any possible scandal. As a result, many members of the press commended him for making an impression to the Spanish people that he was far more considerate and concerned with grassroots issues in comparison to his father. Indeed, Felipe had visited the LGBT community only days after he was appointed king, and he addressed the so-called “Catalan problem,” which has posed a persistent problem in Spain for decades. As such, the Spanish people and media clamored that the ascendance of a new king meant that happier times were about to manifest themselves. Unfortunately for King Felipe, there were many members of his family soiled the reputation of the ruling family in a litany of ways that painted Spanish democracy in an unfortunate light. Despite the optimism King Felipe has sparked in the Spanish masses, it is unequivocal that the electorate has grown disenchanted with the dominant political parties in Spain within the twenty-first century political contexts. The emergence of alternative political parties in the left and the moderate sectors of the electorate underscore the steady decline of bipartisan politics in Spain.


Spain had been sinking further and further in financial and economic crises, which is why Juan Carlos’s popularity sharply declined due to the prominent role had had played in transitioning Spain into a modern democracy. Moreover, Juan Carlos successfully prevented the right-wing military coup that took place in 1981. Moreover, after a series of investigation, it was revealed that Juan Carlos enjoyed luxurious vacations and hunting safaris while Spain suffered from high unemployment rates. Such political corruption followed Juan Carlos even after he abdicated his throne, as the Supreme Court did not grant him immunity for his unethical behaviors. National surveys attest to the sharp decline in Juan Carlos’ popularity during the last years of his reign. Aware of the Spanish Crown’s scandals, King Felipe was left to clean up the political mess his father left while also promoting a more transparent and liberal monarchy. The Spanish monarch played a pivotal role in the decline of the Spanish bipartisan system because of he held the top position of a vastly changing political dynamics taking place in Spain. As a result, the monarch had a tenuous position within the decline of bipartisan politics in Spain because the Spanish populace linked his father to all of the social, political and economic ills that Spain currently faced, including political corruption, high unemployment, poor economic management, and social disintegration.
The tense political situation taking place in Spain prior to King Felipe’s ascendance paved the way for various political groups and outgrowths to enter the national political stage in order to address the various ills detected in Spain and the grievances citizens had towards the monarchy under Juan Carlos. Electoral campaigns and political discourses elucidate how Spanish politics were often framed in national rather than continental terms. Historically, there has been a political climate defined by disaffection and distrust towards traditional political parties and political elites. Popular surveys were conducted and probed that the average trust Spanish denizens had towards ruling political parties was only 1.87 on a scale between one and ten, indicating almost a complete lack of confidence. The end of bipartisan rule in Spain emerged as a relevant campaign topic during the twenty-first century due to the disfavor shown towards Spanish democracy, which has a storied history in the national narrative. A protracted period of protest and social mobilization fomented the proliferation of protest initiatives.
Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, was a new left-wing political party that emerged in 2011 in order to directly address pressing political, economic and social issues. The emergence of Podemos signaled that the politics in Spain were being reoriented towards the left on the political continuum. Unlike other political parties in Spain, Podemos publically promulgated that they did not support the Spanish monarchy. At the end of 2014, Iglesias further state that if Podemos won the next rounds off general elections Spanish citizens, he asserted, must express their views regarding the future of the Spanish monarchy through a referendum. These anti-monarchy and anti-establishment sentiments hat burgeoned in Spain and created a partisan environment that spread throughout Spain. The diffusion of such partisan feelings posed direct threats to the king and the position of the monarchy in modern Spanish politics. The fate of the king had become directly dependent on the general elections, which will most likely reorient and swing Spanish politics to the left on the political continuum in response to the austere measures the Spanish government implemented. Such measures irked the electorate whom had increasingly grown disgruntled with the state of Spanish politics in the context of modernity.
In the aftermath of the fascist epoch in Spain, the bipartisan political system emerged in Spain, and PSOE and PP come to power within the bipartisan political system despite the fact that both groups were directly linked to their respective corruption scandals. Podemos spearheaded the grassroots protests in the streets of Spain against the acerbity perpetrated by Spanish government as a way to alleviate their pent up frustrations and anger against a corrupt government and the institutions the government implemented. In 2013, political shifts were portended in the election results themselves, as Podemos garnered over eight percent of the vote despite only coming into existence for a couple months. The popularity of Podemos spiked exponentially in a short period of time even though the group did not have a serious and coherent party ideology. Nonetheless, Iglesias publically articulated his promise to derail political austerity and eradicate the corruption that had come to define the Spanish government during the past decade. Iglesias galvanized the masses not only in Spain but also in neighboring and continental countries such as Greece. Two hundred and sixty busses full of Spaniards who came from all parts of the nation flooded the streets of Madrid, which attested to the growing support that Iglesias enjoyed.
It is unequivocal that Spaniards want their government to act in the best interests of its denizens rather than self-interest. Moreover, the notion of royalty and having a monarch as Spain’s head of state has been perceived as a remnant of an outdated, antiquated past. However, Spain under the regime of King Felipe, many contemporaries opined, articulated political ideals that were more suitable for twenty-first century political contexts. However, the democratic progress of Spain stalled in 1977 when Spain earned the status of monarchy in the aftermath of Franco’s totalitarian reign. The inability of the Spanish people to vote for their own monarch itself signaled that Spanish politics would never be considered a democracy. The monarch as the head of the state—and thus the commander-in-chief—earned his title by succession rather than election. Moreover, the constitution could not be invoked as a justification for political changes. However, Rajoy pointed to the Spanish constitution as justification for denying independence and autonomy to Catalonia even though it was changing thepurportedly immutable an supreme law code in Spain in order to appropriated succession laws that would allow the daughter of King Felipe to assume the throne in case a male child in the royal family was born. Thus, it is unequivocal that the royal family rendered the constitution open for change, altering it in accordance with their own will and manifested a clear-cut abuse of power that observers had hoped that Spain had moved away from under the reign of King Felipe.


Spanish voters spanning the political continuum have increasingly articulated their disenchantment and disillusionment by the rampant political corruption exposed by the dominant political parties. While Podemos under the auspices of Pablo Iglesias has made some noise on the left, Cuidadanos, which translates to “citizens,” has emerged as a centrist political party led by a young and internet-savvy, charismatic leader named Albert Rivera who has time and again expressed his desire to push political boundaries to gain traction in the general political elections in Spain. Rivera has fervently asserted time and again that his political group, which has exploded in terms of popularity and growth, would tackle political corruption on all levels, referring to his group as the “Podemos of the right” (Rivera, as cited by Kassam). Cuidadanos ideology unequivocally conveys the party’s commitment to the European Union while opposing the secession of Catalan. In order to attract a vast array of voters, Cuidadanos promulgated that it sought to promote political candidates for the upcoming elections at the micro and macro levels. The centrist faction climbed the polls quickly, keeping pace with Podemos. Cuidadanos galvanized voters from the right who were disgusted by the litany of allegations waged against the dominant political parties—for the right-wing voters, the People’s party. Rivera touted an economic platform that promise tax credits for workers who only earned minimum wage, labor reform aimed at reducing the use of temporary contracts, and incentives for workers to avoid so-called redundancies (Kassam).
Pablo Iglesias of Podemos donned in public his usual attire which included jeans and a ponytail in order to visually separate him from the politicians of the major parties who made public appearances donning suits and ties. In a similar manner, Rivera made headlines by appearing nude in public. In 2006, Cuidadanos launched a political campaign in which Rivera appeared naked in all of his public appearances to underscore the notion of a new political party being born that would spawn a new era in Spanish politics. Despite the difficulties faced by Rivera in spearheaded a new political party that would garner actual attention, Rivera and Ciudadanos nonetheless quickly expanded across Spain. The new party garnered droves of voters by “blurring the traditional discourse of left and right” (Kassam).
Rivera articulated a populist message that catered to right-wing ideologues in a way that appealed to conservatives rather than alienating them in the same way that the hegemonic parties. As such, fractures emerged, which catalyzed the demise of bipartisan politics in Spain.


Nonetheless, the burgeoning popularity of Podemos amongst the Spanish masses who articulated time and again their desire for Spain to become a Republic once again, directly threatens to undermine the authority of the young king. If Iglesias can catapult Podemos to victory in the general elections, then the populist-based party would pose a menacing threat to the monarchy because of the ability of leftist leaders such as Iglesias to mobilize an already disgruntled, hungry, desperate, frustrated, and disenchanted Spanish populace. If Podemos and populist leaders prove ineffective, Felipe’s position at the head of the state remains protected for more years to come. Moreover, debates have persisted regarding the ideological and political position regarding King Felipe’s proposed solutions for the country’s litany of problems. Whether or not Podemos poses a credible threat to the political system currently in place in Spain has yet to be seen. Many critics opine that Podemos merely galvanizes the masses by eliciting passionate and emotional responses and does pose a serious political threat as a political group that could go far in Spain’s general elections. Both Podemos and Cuidadanos lured in voters by discursively framing themselves as different than the corrupt dominant parties on the left and the right of the current Spanish political system. The emergence of both Podemos and Ciudadanos, signals the end o the bipartisan political system that had been in place in Spanish politics for decades since the demise of the fascist leader, General Franco. Podemos and Cuidadanos pose legimiate threats to filling the political voids on the right and the left that have traditionally been occupied by the People’s Party on the right and the Socialist party on the left.

Works Cited

Kassam, Ashifa. "Ciudadanos, the 'Podemos of the Right', Emerges as Political Force in Spain." 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.
"Pablo Iglesias of PODEMOS, Introduced by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now)." The Center for Place Culture and Politics. 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.
"Spanish Politics Now a Four Horse Race:poll." - The Local. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.

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