For some reason, the Government has decided to hold its General Elections on Sunday December 20th, which is nice for those many thousands of people who must man the polling stations. Besides the regional nationalist parties and the small United Left (the Izquierda Unida is a coalition of all sorts of far left and ecologist groups, including the Izquierda Republicana, the Partido Comunista de España, the Partido Obrero Revolucionario and other similar groups), we have the four main parties running.
These are the Partido Popular (the last government was run by this party in an absolute majority: Mariano Rajoy was the President); the PSOE (Pedro Sánchez, who by the way has an apartment in Mojácar Pueblo); newcomers the Ciudadanos (the leader is a Catalonian called Albert Rivera) and the Podemos (the pony-tailed leftist Pablo Iglesias leads this anti-establishment group).
The likely outcome - a coalition of two parties. Perhaps the PP with Ciudadanos (if the PP accepts a full inquiry and condemnation of corruption). Assuming the IU voters went with Podemos (one can dream), then the four main parties are in fact running neck and neck according to most surveys. The older voters apparently prefer their usual political choices: PP or PSOE; most other people, sick of the endemic corruption (Bárcenas, Rato, Chaves and Griñán, without going any further), like the two new groups, the conservative Ciudadanos or the left-wing Podemos.
Thanks to Government-fueled complications, the enormous number of Spaniards - around two million - who are resident abroad (they are almost all working in their adopted countries) have found that it is almost impossible to vote in these elections (just 7.5% will vote, according to estimates), and, with the election in the Christmas holidays, perhaps even less - as you must vote in your own circumscription - hard to do when it's 'London' and you are visiting Dad in Murcia. Few of this number, needless to say, will be sympathetic to the Partido Popular.
So, what will happen? The Central European Bank and the mainstream opinion in Brussels favour more austerity, more Rajoy (perhaps a soupçon less corruption). The other parties want to loosen things up a bit, drop some of the last government's worst excesses and try and turn Spain into a new direction.
In reality, forces from outside will continue to play a major part - with the hugely complicated Catalonia situation causing concern, the influence of the Troika on the economy and the possibility of incidents rising from terror attacks (one good thump, and Spain's main industry - tourism - could dry up overnight).
For the 750,000 Britons living in Spain (who of course, like the rest of the four million migrants here, can neither vote nor expect any benign attention from the politicians), there is another bumpy time ahead: the British vote on whether that country (and its unwilling expat passport holders) will stay in Europe. If a 'Brexit' occurs, we shall have a whole number of problems: residence, visas, work permits, health insurance, schooling, and - if Britain proves in a post-Brexit society to be sufficiently anti-foreign - perhaps even deportation.
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