If you live in Spain, you'll have noticed banners and posters around towns and cities advertising various political parties.
The reason is because this Sunday, 22 March, regional elections will take place across Andalucia. The results - which are impossible to predict, with no clear frontrunners - will set the scene for the national vote in November of this year, whose outcome is also anybody's guess. Diputados to the Andalucian parliament will be elected on Sunday, and when seated, will elect the President of the Junta de Andalucia, the most powerful post in southern Spain.
The biggest change on the political spectrum since the last elections is the appearance of Podemos, the left-wing party led by Pablo Iglesias. Changing Spain's political landscape by adding a fourth party, Podemos' rise has been far from smooth - its policies and politicians have been getting a rocky ride in the Spanish media, with considerable foreign press interest including coverage in the Guardian and a cover story in the New York Times.
Spanish politics can be confusing at the best of times, so we've put together a short guide to the main parties and their SM handles.
Parties and Candidates for the president of the Junta de Andalucia in the 2015 elections
PSOE – PARTIDO SOCIALISTA OBRERO ESPAÑOL
The Spanish Workers' Socialist Party is centre-left and its Andalucian branch is very appealing to many workers across this region, in particular those in the inland rural areas and some of the cities. The party has governed Andalucia since its creation in 1982.
Candidate: Susana Diaz
Election Slogan Andalucia tiene mucho que decir (Andalucia has much to say)
PP – PARTIDO POPULAR
The “Popular Party” is Spain’s conservative party. This party has been fighting to win majority of the Andalucian parliament and form a government, but so far has been unable to win the necessary support. Coastal cities and towns in Andalucia are considered to be closer to the Popular Party. The party has difficulty connecting with a working class that has traditionally made up the bulk of Andalucian society.
Candidate: Juan Jose Moreno Bonilla
Election Slogan Contigo por Andalucia (With you for Andalucia)
IU - IZQUIERDA UNIDA
“United Left” is formed of groups of the communist party and other factions including the Greens under a united front. While some towns might be headed by United Left, this party has been considered the third force in Andalucia politics.
Candidate: Antonio Maillo
Election Slogan Transformar (Transform)
Podemos is the far-left political party (translated into English as ‘We Can’) founded last year by charismatic political science lecturer Pablo Iglesias, elected to the European Parliament in May 2014 when Podemos burst onto the political scene. Teresa Rodriguez (34), a Spanish language and literature teacher from Rota (Cadiz) and former MEP, was among the founding leaders. Its place in polls ranges from first to third.
Candidate: Teresa Rodriguez
Election Slogan El Cambio Empeza en Andalucia (Change starts in Andalucia)
PA - PARTIDO ANDALUCISTA
This regional party was a minority force in Andalucia politics but has lost ground since the 2008 elections when it joined forces with the PSA (Partido Socialista de Andalucia, or Andalucian Socialists) as well as other smaller parties to form the Coalición Andalucísta (CA) and lost all of its representatives in the regional parliament.
Candidate: Antonio Jesús Ruiz
UPyD - UNION PROGRESISTA Y DEMOCRATICA
The Union, Progress and Democracy Party, formed in 2007, is a social liberal party that rejects nationalism (including Basque and Catalan) and wants to adopt a system of European federalism, along with proportional voting. Its roots lie in the Basque Country and anti-ETA civic associations. Prominent members include former PSOE MEP Rosa Diez. The party is not defined as left or right with active members on both ends of the spectrum.
Candidate: Martín de la Herrán
Citizens (C's) is a rightist party formed in 2006 whose origins lie in Catalunia as a platform of intellectuals. Nationally C's has 350 groups, 75,000 registered members and 2 MEPs. Juan Marin is vice-mayor of Sanlucar de Barrameda, where the C's have governed in coalition with the socialists since 2007.
Candidate: Juan Marin
Election Slogan Ha llegado nuestro tiempo (Our time has come)
Each of these parties has candidates in all eight provinces
Falange Española de las JONS (FE de las JONS)
Partido Animalista Contra el Maltrato Animal (PACMA)
Partido Comunista de los Pueblos de España (PCPE)
As I mentioned, it is impossible to predict the outcome of this election. The two TV debates with the PP, PSOE and IU (the exclusion of the new fourth party, Podemos, was much remarked upon) on the past Sundays both descended into the usual slanging match of "LIAR!", shouting over each other and being reprimanded by the presenter like naughty school children, for not letting the other candidates speak. Let's see if the results produce a clear winner.
It is also worth mentioning that EU residents in Spain cannot vote in these elections, however they will be allowed to vote in the forthcoming municipal election in May.