Right turn: Spanish go conservative at poll

The Spanish conservative People’s Party has achieved an absolute majority in the lower chamber of the country’s parliament. But the real state of affairs in Spain proves it is highly unlikely they are in for an easy term.

­Spain has become the third European country in as many weeks to see a change in leadership after Greece and Italy, which have already toppled their administrations, blaming them for the financial crisis.

With 99 per cent of the votes counted, the center-right Popular Party had won 186 seats compared to 154 in the last legislature, while the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party has dropped from 169 to current 110. With experts calling it their worst defeat ever.

People's Party leader, and most likely the future prime minister, Mariano Rajoy has already addressed the country’s current financial and social issues. He promised Spain would “stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution,” as cited by the Associated Press.

But RT’s Irina Galushko, who is currently in the capital, Madrid, found out that many Spaniards have lost faith that any politicians will be able to turn things around.

Talking to people in the streets, she learnt that work, an end to the crisis, efficiency, money and an end to corruption – this is what the Spaniards want from the elections. But will they get it?

The reality of the economic crisis in Spain means five million out of work. One-and-a-half million households without a wage earner, and a youth unemployment rate which has shot up to nearly 50 per cent. This is the state of affairs the winner will have to deal with. But will they be able to make a difference?

Probably not, believes Gayle Allard, an economics professor at Madrid’s IE Business school.

“We are going to have to cut benefits sharply,” she told RT. “We may have to differentiate among the recipients of benefits. We may have to eliminate programs, so this could really be… We may be really seeing the death of the welfare state.”

But most Spaniards have had enough of budget cuts and empty promises. Protests by the 15-M movement, the so-called “Indignant marches”, have been spreading throughout Spain since March. Many people have chosen not to go the polls on Sunday, believing politicians will not help the country.

“I think people are being disappointed with the choices that they have throughout this campaign really, for the last couple of months at least,” Guy Hedgecoe, co-editor of Iberosphere.com website told RT. “Because I think they feel that there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two candidates in terms of what they would do.”

And it seems there is no easy way out of the current economic downturn. In fact, some of the minorities in the parliament believe Spain is in a vicious circle.

“Since all policies are being dictated in Brussels, the elections won’t help in creating more jobs,” Jose Antonio Garcia Rubio told RT. “It will be the opposite. “Public expense will go down, people’s purchasing power will go down, that will mean fewer investments and that translates into unemployment.”

And though there may be new faces in the Spanish government. They will have to deal with the old problems in much the same way – meaning nothing is likely to change for Spaniards, already tired of the economic catastrophe in the country.