Elections, strikes and budgets – a busy week for Rajoy

In the days after Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular (PP) won the regional election in Andalucía, people may be asking “what happens now?”

The first thing that happened was that Spanish stocks fell across Europe.  On Monday the Spanish IBEX index was down 1.7 percent as economists looked ahead to Rajoy’s mandate to deepen cutbacks  in public spending as part of his efforts to  drag Spain out of the euro zone debt. Rajoy is expected to announce a further 40 billion euros to be cut from expenditure, in addition to the 15 billion already saved.

Andalucia, one of the most indebted regions in Spain relative to its output, and has the highest jobless rate, at over 31 percent of all of Spain’s regions. Part of the planned reforms will hand more power to the regions to cut health care and education spending, something which local councillors have long been asking for.

Rajoy may not have won a majority in Andalucía but he still has an absolute majority in the national parliament and will press ahead with further cuts despite a general strike, planned for this Thursday.

“A day after the polls, the PP is still the dominant power in Spain … but electorally it is starting to suffer the effects of the (economic) situation it has to deal with,” El Pais reported.

However, with the combined total seats of the Socialists, with 47, and the United Left with 12, the possibility of a leftist ruling coalition is an option for the opposition parties, but analysts think the negotiations will not be easy.

“Today we’ve seen that the majority of voters in Andalucia have not voted for the right. They want change that defends the social model and equality of opportunity,” United Left leader Cayo Lara said in a television interview.

“The people of Andalucia want change, but they want change through the left,” she added.

With a strike due on Thursday and a budget due on Friday, it seems the PP has work to do to impress itself upon Andalucía, and the rest of Spain. The people will speak on Thursday when the number of protesters will act as a good indicator of public confidence in Rajoy’s plans.