Blog Political Science and Public Administration

Joaquim Molins (UAB) and Sergi Pardos (PhD student at Oxford University)

 

In the 2003 and 2007 municipal elections, Platform for Catalonia (PxC) attracted most of its votes from those who had chosen the PSC (Catalan Socialist Party) or abstained from voting in previous elections. In the jump from 4 to 17 council members in the last local elections, Josep Anglada’s party gained almost no votes from supporters of CiU, ERC, ICV or PP, and did not appeal to young people joining the electoral roll, either. Analysis of the electorate who voted for PxC suggests that the party has difficulty generating repeat votes among those who have chosen this option in a previous election, but has a greater ability to attract new voters. This conclusion is consistent with academic theories about the extreme vote, which claim that votes for radical parties tend to come from the traditional left-wing or those with a high level of political disaffection. These theories argue that the working class, which is traditionally left-wing, is particularly threatened by immigration.

 

The analysis does not detect a great flow of nationalist, conservative right-wing, nor newly registered voters towards the PxC. It has also been observed that the media coverage of PxC is virtually inexistent at the regional and national levels, which means that most of its media coverage is in local media. The socio-economic characteristics of the nine municipalities where the party gained representation are also significant. All the municipalities except Sant Martí de Riucorb (the rest being Manlleu, Vic, Roda de Ter, Manresa, Cervera, Tarrega, El Vendrell and Olot) coincide in having an industrial sector that is declining, while the service sector and construction in particular--a sector which attracts many foreign workers-- are increasing. In Catalonia, left parties such as IC-V have modified their discourse to toward ecological positions with less impact on this class.

 

The study revealed the main weakness of this party, led by Josep Anglada, to be its difficulty keeping the votes of those who had cast ballots for it in earlier elections. In contrast, the party is able to attract significant numbers of new voters. The study concludes that this situation is typical of new and young parties, and warns that failure to construct a faithful electoral base could lead to the PxC losing electoral significance.

 

The phenomenon of PxC merits academic study because, until its appearance, radical parties basing their discourse on a strong anti-immigration stance had failed to establish themselves in Spain, even though this type of party has managed to establish itself in many other European nations over the past twenty years. In addition to PxC, the study identifies at least four other radical parties that are currently represented in city councils in Spain: Spain 2000 (in the Community of Valencia), National Democracy (in Castilla y León), Spanish Democratic Action Party (in Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha) and the Spanish Phalanx Movement (in Cantabria). PxC’s singularity lies in the fact that it has experienced the most significant growth between the local elections of 2003 and 2007, increasing from 4 to 17 councilors. Its evolution in the regional elections of 2010 and the municipal ones of 2011 will determine whether or not the party will be long-lived.

 

Sergi Pardos and Joaquim Molins (2009) “The Emergence of Right-Wing Radicalism at the Local Level in Spain: the Catalan Case”, International Journal of Iberian Studies. Vol. 22-3: 201-218.

 

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