With fear on your heels

The polls are ready, and above the sensations are the numbers, which can handle everything.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 May 2023 Wednesday 22:51
23 Reads
With fear on your heels

The polls are ready, and above the sensations are the numbers, which can handle everything. Because, since the mid-1990s, they have expressed themselves clearly: the right, in its different versions, is extremely competitive in the Valencian Country.

Since the PPCV conquered the Generalitat, in 1995, this party and the adjacent formations have only fallen below 1.2 million votes in 2015, when corruption and cuts resulting from the economic and financial crisis led to a perception extended end of cycle The right then barely obtained a million ballots, that is, the flat rate of the left in the two previous decades.

It was in 2015 when, finally, the left broke its molds and climbed to 1.3 million votes. He repeated that figure in 2019 due to the coincidence with a highly polarized general election, but already with the breath of the right on his neck. That day, 40,000 votes separated each other.

Will the PSPV, Compromís and Unides Podem-Esquerra Unida be able to get close enough, this Sunday, to those 1.3 million votes? We won't have the answer until that night, but the restlessness that swarms through the environment allows us to draw some preliminary conclusions.

The main one is that, after eight years in office, the two great forces that have made up the Botànic Government have barely managed to expand their voting borders. They have not established a recognizable hegemony. And it will not be for not having tried it in a very different way.

On the one hand, the PSPV-PSOE, practicing social dialogue ad nauseam and setting itself up as a business friendly partner, has tried to attract voters through the center of the political tableau. And on the other, Compromís, blurring its identity varnish in favor of values ​​such as environmentalism, LGTBIQ rights or the defense of the territory, which were already part of its DNA and today champion it, has made an effort to attract a young electorate and some layers urban stockings that, at the time, were excited about the appearance of Podemos.

Nothing to do with Andalusia. The right that took over the Junta in 2018, after 36 years in opposition and the ERE scandal as the definitive trigger, revalidated that power with great ease in 2022, going from 1.8 million votes to 2.1 million, while the left fell from 1.6 million supports to just over 1.3 million. In a single legislature, the popular Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla multiplied his 750,000 votes by more than two, gathering 1.6 million.

Nothing to do with Navarra, the antithesis of Andalusia. A territory long dominated by the right, with substantial powers, which saw its reference savings bank fall between episodes of corruption. The foral community already chains two progressive governments and this Sunday will add a third. The turnaround that took place two elections ago —like the Andalusian one— is going to be long.

On the other hand, the 20 consecutive years of the PPCV, which culminated in a skyrocketing unemployment rate, a rock-bottom reputation —the result of a cascade of corruption cases— and the financial system sold at bargain prices, continue to weigh like a slab in the imaginary of the Valencian left. The feeling of impotence that inoculated that very long stage has meant that the sensation of a new era has not permeated as might be expected.

He couldn't avoid it. The left has governed with fear on its heels, looking sideways at the right, and the latter, sheltered in its robustness, has survived its particular winter. He was already one step away from regaining power in 2019, only four years after losing it, and now the popular candidate, Carlos Mazón, refers to the Botànic period as a mere “parenthesis”. They have internalized that the Generalitat belongs to them.

How is it possible that the left could otherwise lose a territory whose government work obtains broad citizen support? The management of the pandemic —the most relevant event of the legislature that is ending— was much better than that of other communities, practically all of the economic indicators are positive and corruption has disappeared from the map.

If all this would justify a re-election, a decision as important as that of Volkswagen, which is building in Sagunt what will be one of the main gigafactories in Europe, should persuade the most undecided. But even with these, continuity is not guaranteed for the tripartite coalition. An executive who, despite his internal differences, has conveyed a more cohesive image —with the sole exception of the Basque bipartisan PNV-PSE— than the other multi-color governments at the regional level.

Eight years with eight budgets in due time and form, when PP and Cs did not even complete a common legislature in Madrid, Castilla y León, Andalusia and Murcia. The Botànic has even managed to overcome the traumatic loss of Mónica Oltra, with all that she meant. In her role as vice president and councilor, thanks to Aitana Mas who has shown solvency, and in that of a candidate, for the sake of a Joan Baldoví who enjoys a high level of knowledge and generates empathy between locals and strangers.

In a way, the same thing that happens with Ximo Puig. Neither Baldoví nor he arouses a visceral rejection. Nothing to do with those loved or hated politicians with no middle ground. However, this combination of factors —high level of knowledge, good opinion of government work and low rejection of the candidate— may have caused the PSPV to fall into an excess of confidence.

His clearly presidential campaign has avoided a direct clash with Mazón, whose low preparation for the position has been highlighted and who has been preferred not to give more prominence by holding other debates. Puig's entourage has tried to win the elections à la Moreno Bonilla, that is, without making noise and standing two feet above his rivals.

Managing without rest until the minute before the campaign and, once involved in it, opting for small-format events, without a central meeting of impact or massive presence of billboards in the streets. Now, a 100% activated PSPV has not been perceived, rowing in unison. The local groups have looked after theirs, and the management, to save the Generalitat.

Thus, the polls show an evident stagnation of the Socialists. Less than 70% of their 2019 voters say that this Sunday they will put the same ballot in the ballot box. The vote from the implosion of Ciudadanos is merely testimonial and the arrival of Unides Podem does not compensate for the bleeding that weighs down the brand.

Very well known, well valued and with an approval to its management. Isn't that the perfect cocktail? What more could Ximo Puig wish for in the face of this election date? However, who knows if we will still hear him verbalize, in the near future, the "love me less and vote for me more" pronounced by Adolfo Suárez and that after years was attributed to Julio Anguita.

Everything is in the air. Too much in the air. And the weather, with rain forecast from Vinaròs to Pilar de Horadada, increases that uncertainty. If in case of doubt —before the irruption of VAR— the referee on duty should not signal offside, in case of rain, the undecided voter —largely, framed in the progressive spectrum— may prefer to stay at home watching Netflix .

Not even the local scrutiny —prior to the regional one— will calibrate the options of a third Botànic. The scenario is so uncertain and the promiscuity of the voter is so pronounced that drawing conclusions about the distribution of councilors in Vila-real, Paterna, Cullera, Gandia, Xàtiva or Xàbia will be hasty. Get ready for an intense night like few others.

In fact, 5% of Unides Podem-EUPV will be a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one, for the Botànic to claim victory. Yolanda Díaz's support for that regional brand —very calculated, very taken with tweezers— should serve to round off a minimum percentage of votes that, it must be said, that political space has always surpassed with relative comfort. Another thing will be the capacity of the residents of the city of Valencia when it comes to discerning that voting for Pilar Lima is the easiest way to roll out the red carpet of the City Hall at the feet of María José Catalá.

Be that as it may, we will always have the question of what would have happened in a solo Valencian election. In January or February, without the noise of the PSOE-PP struggle that silences everything. Some elections in which the keywords were Volkswagen, dependency, unemployment, teachers and exports instead of ETA, Bildu, Sánchez, squatters and Melilla.

Voting in strictly Valencian coordinates would also have been a coin toss. The turnout at the polls, lower than that of May 28, would have made the scrutiny even more unpredictable. But, at least, the Botànic would have played the game at home, not as a visitor, and Puig's presidential profile would have stood out in a more evident way. It was a risky bet, of course, but risk and success are usually synonymous, and elections like this would have matured Valencian society, unbalancing the future electoral calendar.

It's too late. Alea iacta est. We will not know at all if the citizens renew their trust in the Botanic or not. If they decide to return to the past with a government that leans heavily to the right — placing a man convicted of mental violence against his ex-wife as vice president, in this case — or they continue — again by the hairline — to the current formula. In short, if the 20 years of popular catechism or the eight of progressive reformism weigh more.