Castilla y León had never been at the center of the national political table as since last December 20 the president of the Junta, Alfonso Fernandez Manueco, announced on December 20 the call for early elections whose electoral campaign officially starts this midnight with the traditional posting of posters (virtual or not).
The reason for the unusual interest in a historical community in the most literal sense of the word and little given to noise and fuss is not mainly —although it is also— to know the distribution of the 81 attorneys who will have to elect something more than 2.1 million citizens next February 13. The formation of the new parliament logically matters after the failed coalition between PP and Cs that prevented the PSOE, winner at the polls in May 2019, from reaching power more than three decades later.
Now, all the polls —except that of the CIS— point to the Popular Party as the only formation with real options of being able to govern even close to the absolute majority to which it aspires with more desire than certain hope.
In any case, the most immediate future of politics in Spain seems to depend on the result of these elections. If the popular ones want to go from the ‘Ayuso effect’, with their resounding victory in Madrid, to the ‘Mañueco effect’, with another clear victory in Castilla y León, to mark a definitive trend that paves the way to La Moncloa as much as possible, the Socialists want precisely to avoid at all costs a scenario that would further complicate their weakened position in the central government. To this national struggle concentrated in a single region -the largest in Spain, on the other hand- Vox also joins with the challenge of being key and conditioning the next Castilian and Leonese government and demonstrating to itself that it also has ‘pull’ in regional elections. Meanwhile, Ciudadanos is perhaps in the last chance to avoid its predicted disappearance and United We Can try not to follow the same path in a community with few similarities.
Massive presence of national leaders
Any national politician who prides himself on having a certain status will have his leading role in the Castilla y León campaign. The list of ‘visits’ is endless as a sample of what is at stake. If the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, ‘moved away’ from the community when the ‘Garzón case’ was getting worse, now he will turn to participate in four socialist acts.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Popular Party, a regular in that land in recent weeks, will continue along the same lines and will participate both with and without Mañueco in various rallies and sectoral meetings. The same can be said of the rest of the leaders of the main parties. As an example, today and before the countdown to the polls starts, both the president of the PP and that of Cs, Inés Arrimadas, will support their candidates, while Sánchez will do so on Saturday in Zamora and Santiago Abascal will accompany that same day and on Sunday to the young Vox candidate, Juan García-Gallardo. Together with them, regional presidents, ministers, deputies, senators and even the prompter will ‘know’ Castilla y León.
Candidates who also play it
Beyond the reading and importance for national politics of the results of 13-F, the main candidates to preside over the Board also risk their own future. The PP candidate, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, has already recognized that he was putting his “personal present” at risk by calling the elections and everything that does not happen by repeating himself as president of the Board would make his figure falter. In the case of the socialist Luis Tudanca, he is facing his third attempt to govern Castilla y León and, if he does not succeed, everything indicates that it will be his last.
It is not easy for Francisco Igea either, who aspires to once again be key in the future government without any provision granting him that role. If he doesn’t succeed, perhaps he can ‘rest’ after four years in which he has faced everyone: with his own and with others. The truth is that the three at this time ‘hate’ each other politically and a sour tone and a lot of ‘low blows’ are expected with Fernández Mañueco as the main target. A good fighter, he will bet on moderation against Igea’s desperate offensive and a Tudanca, for the moment in a lower profile and who will increase his aggressiveness as soon as he considers it necessary. The televised debate next Monday —finally on TVE— can confirm whether the arguments and ideas or the attacks and insults prevail. Less stress for Pablo Fernández (Unidas Podemos), more focused on his national position, and for García-Gallardo (Vox), a newcomer to politics.
The role of the Emptied Spain and the localists
In such ‘concrete’ elections —without municipal and without other regional ones— and in a community in which depopulation is the main problem according to the citizens themselves, the irruption of the Empty Spain parties —they appear in five provinces— and that of other new-fangled substitutes, together with the possible weight of already entrenched local options (For Ávila and especially the ‘rupturists’ of the Union of the Leonese People) will try to convince during these days those who are disenchanted with the great formations. Its success, appealing in many cases to grievance and victimhood, can make a few seats ‘dance’.
Abstention in times of Covid
The effect that the sixth wave of Covid is still circulating —downward— through Castilla y León does not seem trivial either. Although it is not the same situation as that experienced in Galicia and Catalonia because the vast majority of the population has already received several doses of the vaccine, the fear of low participation seems to be based on what is the second oldest community in the country. In addition, it is the first time that elections are held in the middle of winter and with a cold enough to stay at home. The parties will appeal to participation, but possibly the PP is the one that most needs the ‘always’ vote, which are the ones that have historically given it victories.