That sound you heard if you were in — or flying over — Europe on Sunday was five million Spanish voters firmly planting their feet on the Socialist party’s behind. And with it, kicking out the last center-left government still standing on the continent.
To be sure, it didn’t come as a surprise; it’s exactly what polls were predicting for months. Although there was a slightly lower turnout than expected, the conservative Popular Party, led by Mariano Rajoy, was granted a comfortable absolute majority with 186 seats in the lower chamber. This is the biggest victory ever for the PP, even larger than in 2000, when Jose Maria Aznar was leading the party. And with just 110 seats‚ 59 less than in 2008, the Socialist party suffered its biggest defeat since the restoration of democracy after Franco’s death in 1975. It’s their Titanic moment.
(To avoid complicating this analysis needlessly, we will focus on the lower chamber, called the Congress of Deputies; because of how Spain’s legislative process works, the Senate is a chamber of second reading. All bills originate in and get final approval in the Congress, which means it’s there where the beef is cut.)