Spanish Politics – Part 4: The People’s Party?

The People’s Party (Partido Popular commonly known a PP) is a conservative and Christian democratic political party. It is one of the “big two” parties and heads the current government.

A Very Brief History…

The People’s Party was a formed when the People’ Alliance (Alianza Popular, AP) joined forces with smaller Christian democratic and liberal parties to form a centrist right alliance.

The People’s Alliance had previously been founded in 1976 by Franco’s Minister for Tourism – one Manuel Fraga. The man largely responsible for mass tourism in Spain which began in the early 1960s and is still the country’s biggest industry. Whatever your political persuasion you have to admit that señor Fraga was a man of great vision.

Fraga had hoped for a gradual transformation to democracy but in the 1977 general elections the AP received just over 8% of the votes and the socialist/left wing parties dominated. The AP then had its own internal struggle and some of the more right wing politicians (widely seen as being Francoist) left the party. The AP then joined with other moderate conservatives to form the Democratic Coalition (Coalición Democrática, CD). However, the CD fared no better, and in the 1979 elections also finishing a distant 4th with only 6% of the vote. Several other mergers were needed before the PP – in its present form – finally arrived on the scene in 1989.

The PP only won their first elections in 1996 when Jose Maria Aznar became Prime Minister. Only then with the help of Basque and Catalan parties.  In 2011 the PP won its first outright victory and Mariano Rajoy became Prime Minister. Technically – due to the lack of a clear winner (or agreed coalition) in the elections this past year – he still is.

So in term of general election success the PP is actually very much a new party. All of which will be noted with interest by the likes of the Podemos party.

The public gets what the public wants. Or do they? Bizarre and interesting times in Spanish politics.

PP Offices

I visited the offices after trying to meet with the PSOE (see previous posts) and was pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received. They took my name (and ID of course) and allowed me to pass through the airport-like security scanners. I was then allowed to sit and chat with a middle aged lady.

The PP offices seemed more professional than the others I had (almost) seen. There was a large armed police presence despite the area being quiet. A stark contrast to the PSOE offices I had just been to, which were mobbed with the media with not a policeman in sight.

The lady I spoke to was pleasant enough but oddly she never told me her name. I introduced myself and then told her what I wanted to know. We talked for a minute or two about the Ciudadanos party and how – in the PP’s eyes – they were trying to steal the right wing voters but were in fact swaying one way and the other; and ultimately had lost ground by the second of the recent elections.

Then it all went a little familiar. Any further questions were met with the standard answer. I was directed to their website and given an email address for any further queries. We never had chance to discuss the PSOE nor Podemos. I think the distinction between the conservative PP and the socialist parties is probably clear enough. I went home and emailed the usual questions about the EU policies and immigration and also asked about the possibility of sharing power with Podemos which however odd is something that may still happen. No reply as yet. No surprises either.

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