Rubalcaba and Rajoy are the main candidates because they are the most likely to win the election. Actually, Rajoy is the most likely to win; Rubalcaba’s objective is to do anything he can to reduce the enormous difference separating his ruling party from the challenger. As I mentioned before, he stands somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 points ahead of his rival. So, as we speak, barring any last-minute shocker, what is at stake is not the premiership of the government but the absolutely majority in the parliament. Should the Popular Party turn this into a rout, that may just happen.
This might appear to be just a two-party system of the kind you find in the United States, but years ago Spain was a country fraught with political parties. Parties which had a definite impact on the direction of the country. You had your communists, your socialists, your anarchists, your moderates, your conservatives, your monarchists, your Francoists and your fascists. Everyone was involved. Many still are, but their parties are no longer that relevant. Others continue to be a force because most of their votes are concentrated in regions with a strong nationalist (i.e. separatist) character, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country. But we’ll get to them later. National parties have come and gone, but as things are now, there is little room for a third major party, as the two big ones have slowly muscled out the competition. They have moderated their tones and have grown more mainstream, despite their fiery speeches. They have accpeted the system, and that is a big step towards a stable democracy…at the cost of political diversity. Here’s a chart that examines the progress of the major parties since the first modern elections in 1977.
Are we getting fancy? Charts and everything. The dominence of the Popular Party and the Socialist Party in that past few years is undeniable. But this is all a little more complicated than that, I can assure you.