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Spain’s Election Showdown

Spain’s Election Showdown

Crises create opportunities. That's the story of European politics over the past decade, and Spain offers an especially interesting case in point.

On Sunday, Spanish voters will go to the polls in the country's third national election in less than four years. Gone are the days when just two parties (center-right and center-left) dominated Spain's national political landscape. As in other EU countries, the economic spiral and resulting demand for austerity triggered by Europe's sovereign debt crisis, and then a tidal wave of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, have boosted new parties and players. Catalan separatists have added to Spain's political turmoil.


This weekend's elections will feature candidates from:

  • The Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), the center-left party now heading a minority government
  • The People's Party (PP), the center-right party ousted from power last June following a vote of no-confidence
  • Ciudadanos, a pro-business party that has drifted from the center to the right
  • Podemos, an anti-austerity party of the far-left
  • Vox, an anti-immigrant party of the far-right

Polling suggests the Socialists, who've been in control of the government since a no-confidence vote ousted the center-right government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in June, will keep power. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has boosted the party's popularity by reversing cuts to social programs, boosting the minimum wage, and launching an effort to remove the body of former dictator Francisco Franco from an extravagant memorial outside Madrid.

In addition, the Socialists benefit from a splintering on the right among the PP, Ciudadanos, and Vox—and from fears the center-right PP can't form a government without a coalition that includes Vox, a party best known for hating migrants and feminists and loving bullfights. It's about to become the first far-right party to hold seats in Spain's parliament since Franco died in 1975.

It's also possible the Socialists will win but prove unable to form a government. If so, we'll be doing all this again in a few months. Fortunately, Spain's strengthening economy seems oblivious to its increasingly fragmented and contentious politics.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Listen: The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he talks about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He also offers some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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