"Don't expect miracles"

This was the characteristically pragmatic declaration by Spain's new Prime Minister-elect, in his victory speech in Madrid last night.
Mariano Rajoy's Partido Popular romped home to an overwhelming victory in the elections, winning even more seats than predicted - 186, to the PSOE's 110. It was a night of extremes for all concerned: his party gained its biggest overall majority ever, while the PSOE suffered the worst performance in its history.
In terms of Andalucia, we're now in the bizarre situation whereby the new government-elect won a majority of seats in the region (33 to the Socialists' 25), but the Junta is still run by the PSOE. It's the first time the PP has ever achieved such a result in Andalucia, a traditionally left-leaning part of Spain.
But in the map of results, as you can see above, one of the two red patches which stand out like sore thumbs against the sea of blue, is Sevilla (the other is Barcelona). The PSOE gained a majority of seats in the province, by a hair's breadth: they won six seats, to the PP's five, with one going to the Izquierda Unida (IU). The PSOE lost 200,000 votes in Sevilla provincia, with seats going over to the PP and IU.
All over Andalucia, the turnout was much higher than average: in Seville, 72.23% of those eligible used their voice; the highest was Jaen province, with 77.01% - they must be desperate for someone to get their olive oil industry back on track. The lowest participation was in 67.44% in Cadiz, a province normally known for its high level of political activity.
Every province saw a swing to the right (in Seville, it started from so far left that it didn't matter), with the PP gaining about seven or eight per cent, and the Socialists losing up to 20 per cent. That is a massive shift, and it will be interesting to see where the PSOE goes from here.
I talked to some people this morning, to get some opinions, and they mostly saw it as a positive change, for a number of reasons, mostly to do with how Spain is perceived, by the rest of Europe and beyond. Please note, these aren't neccessarily my opinions, but I thought they were interesting:
* The PP is good at managing the economy, whereas the PSOE is better at welfare.
* The PP will crack down on benefits cheats - people who are claiming paro (unemployment benefit) at the same time as earning more than the maximum amount allowed by those on paro.
* A strong government - ie one with a clear majority - will inspire confidence in the markets, and renewed optimism about the future for Spain's economy. (As I write this, bond yields have gone back up to 6.6%, having peaked at 6.8% last Thursday, so maybe it hasn't had that immediate effect.)
* A change of leadership, and governing party, which was chosen by the people - as opposed to forced upon us by outside forces (as happened in Italy and Greece) - is a sign of stability and popular consent.

Thankfully, the tourism industry is still healthy, so Andalucia remains a favourite holiday destination. And this weekend, among all the pre-election blurb in the newspapers, I saw an article which said that the renewable energy industry will create over 100,000 jobs over the next two years.
Stay tuned for more on that...
Blog published on 21 November 2011