All is terribly quiet on the campaign front in part because there is so little to talk about. Barring any last-minute shockers, and, after the 2004 elections, I do not say that mockingly, the results are all but a foregone conclusion. Now they are scrambling to gain or prevent an absolutely majority by the PP.
Now, just because the Socialist Party and the conservative Popular Party had muscled their way to the top as the two leading national political entities, doesn’t mean they don’t have competitors. They have; it’s just that they aren’t what they used to be in many ways. The UCD, which ran the country in the first four years, dissolved rather quickly, and the party to spring up from its ashes, the CDS, fared even worse. It was all but gone by the early 90s. This was due to the fact that the PSOE and the PP had become moderate enough in their stances to attract politically central voters. An official center-party made less and less sense.
Izquierda Unida (The United Left), or just IU for short, was a conglomerate of different far-left parties which began to grow in popularity. It managed to pool together several million votes in the 1990s with a man named Julio Anguita at the helm. But it had a problem. Because it was voted on nationally, and because its votes were spread out nationwide, the IU rarely got the representation it deserved in parliament.
The bulk of the other parties is made up of regional and nationalist parties which defend their provincial interests and in some case support secession. These are my favorite: They try to get into the Spanish Congress just to say they want to leave.
The two biggest parties are the PNV in the Basque Country and the CiU in Catalonia. Their influence on the course of the country has been considerable over the years as the major parties have at times had to pact with them in order to get enough support to run parliament (we’ll get to that later because it’s pretty amusing). Both the PSOE and the PP are “guilty” of this because they have both resorted to the regional parties when they didn’t have the absolute majority. These groups have also had a large representation in parliament because of the way the voting system is designed…I’ll tell you more later.