Updated 24 July: Well, it’s been a month. And up to last month, as in the last update below, the PSOE had not only taken power nationally in Madrid, but also in the Canaries, replacing the Nationalist Coalición Canaria in power after 26 years. The Socialists had, indeed, even replaced the CC in La Laguna and Santa Cruz, two nationalist powerhouses who now have PSOE mayors – in Santa Cruz, Mayoress Patricia Hernández took power after 40 years of CC control!
That was all astonishing enough, in terms of regional and municipal politics, but now in a political earthquake, and after a month of haggling and haranguing culminating today in a vote of No Confidence in the CC, the Nationalists have also lost the Tenerife Cabildo. Carlos Alonso is no longer President of Tenerife, being replaced by the PSOE’s Pedro Martín, mayor of Guía de Isora and General Secretary of the PSOE in the Canaries: Martín will stand down as mayor tomorrow in favour of Guía de Isora’s Culture councillor, Josefa Mora.
Talk about a sweeping away of the old order! The CC have ruled the Cabildo for 32 years. The Socialists now have power nationally in Spain, regionally in the Canaries, in Tenerife itself as well as many of its Ayuntamientos. Here is the new President of Tenerife. Pedro Martín.
Updated 20 June: They had the numbers, and now it really does seem that after nearly three decades in opposition, the PSOE will form the next regional Government of the Canary Islands, evicting Coalición Canarias, the nationalist party which has governed the archipelago for the past 26 years. In sweeping changes which have also seen historic power switches in La Laguna and Santa Cruz Ayuntamientos, the new Parliament will be convened on Tuesday, and pending only an official announcement on Saturday, today’s unveiling of a pact between the PSOE, Nueva Canarias, Podemos and the Agrupación Socialista Gomera will see the power base in the Canaries alter in a fundamental way, one that’s reinforced by there also being a Socialist Government in power in Madrid. The times they are a-changin’.
Updated 15 June: The horse-trading still continues, incredibly, to determine which party governs the Canaries, or rather which coalition will govern the islands because no single party has an outright majority, but one result is in, and it is an incredible one. Coalición Canarias, the nationalist party in control of Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento for forty years, has lost the borough, and the PSOE have taken it thanks to support from Ciudadanos and Podemos. As I said in last month’s post below, the CC retained Santa Cruz though without an absolute majority for mayor Bermúdez. He needed to form pacts to govern, but following the breakdown of coalition talks with the conservative PP, it was the PSOE which was able to seize control. The new mayor of Santa Cruz is Patricia Hernández, the first woman to govern the city, and the first Socialist to do so in modern democratic post-Franco Spain.
In La Laguna, too, there has finally been a change of power. As I said below, the PSOE believed, almost without being able to believe it, that they’d unseated the CC and, in the end thanks to coalition pacts with Podemos and Avante La Laguna, the PSOE was actually able to take control of the municipality whose new mayor is now Luis Yeray Gutiérrez.
Original post 27 May: Yesterday’s EU elections have seen support for what were the main centrist parties generally seep away to parties which previously were considered “fringe” but which the public throughout Europe clearly see as representing their views and interests more strongly and, perhaps more significantly, representing them more clearly, here in the Canaries there has been a real change in power. After 26 years, the ruling Coalición Canarias has been defeated in the regional elections by the Socialist PSOE which recently won Spain’s General Election. The Socialists haven’t won outright, however, and will need to form pacts with other parties such as Podemos, but the CC isn’t giving up and is talking itself of trying to form pacts with other parties such as the PP and Ciudadanos to try to form a Government. The Socialists are likely to win through, and indeed with the numbers should do so, but the horse-trading is today only just starting.
In terms of Tenerife specifically, the CC and PSOE tied in numbers of seats gained for the Cabildo but since the CC (with the New Canaries party) secured more votes than the PSOE, there will be no change at the top, with Carlos Alonso remaining as island President. Locally with Ayuntamientos, the Socialist strongholds of south and west Tenerife, Arona, Adeje and Guía de Isora found their support consolidated, with mayors Mena, Fraga and Martín re-elected absolutely and increasing their power bases. On the other side of the political spectrum, the PP held easily onto Santiago del Teide, an aberration in south and west Tenerife, perhaps. The CC retained Santa Cruz though without an absolute majority for mayor Bermúdez who will need to form pacts himself to govern. Perhaps the biggest surprise after the regional result itself is that of La Laguna, where the Socialists currently believe they’ve unseated the incumbent CC – the horse-trading there will also continue for some days.
One thing seems clear from the results across Europe, and that is the big old parties which took votes for granted can no longer do so without clearly and straightforwardly addressing voters’ concerns and interests, and not fudging policy details in order to try to avoid alienating voters who might disagree with a clear party line. What is now in fact clear is that far from avoiding alienating potential supporters, such parties alienate them all.