- Conservatives do well as an alternative to the left rather than a copycat.
Editorial Board, WSJ Editorials
Spanish voters took a turn toward the political right in Sunday’s election, and the outcome is good for Europe despite the panic you may have heard from some quarters. Another mainstream, center-right political party has shown it’s capable of performing well in elections—by being a credible alternative to both the left and the far right.
The shape of a new government remains uncertain, as no obvious coalition won a majority of seats. Trends for individual parties are clear, however. The Popular Party led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo won 136 seats in the 350-seat lower house, a big improvement on the party’s 89 seats in the last national election, in late 2019. The incumbent Socialist Workers’ Party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez won 122 seats, compared with 120 four years ago, while his far-left coalition partners now known as Sumar dropped to 31 seats, from 38.
The Popular Party’s big gain is an unusual result in Europe these days. The center-right New Democracy party led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis won Greece’s elections this spring, but mainstream European conservatism is otherwise on the skids. The German Christian Democrats languish in opposition, which is where the British Tories are probably headed with a crash after the next election, in 2024. France and Italy don’t have center-right parties to speak of anymore.
Credit Mr. Feijóo and the Popular Party’s leadership for figuring out how to avoid such a fate. The formula was twofold: They offered voters an economic-growth program that’s pro-investment and pro-opportunity, making a contrast with Mr. Sánchez’s left-wing redistributionism. And they adopted a one-nation cultural message built around national unity and calculated to appeal to the broad center.
The Popular Party’s resurgence is a big story, but many commentators will focus instead on the far-right Vox party. As Spain has become a four-party democracy rather than the two-party system of yore, Mr. Feijóo may need to form a coalition with Vox now or if Spain holds another election in coming months to produce a clearer result. This would mark the first entrance of such a party into a Spanish government since the democratic era began in the late 1970s.
It’s hard to argue this would be a disaster. One of Mr. Feijóo’s successes was to diminish Vox, which held 33 seats, compared with the 52 seats it won four years ago. He did this by creating a mainstream agenda that could win back Popular Party voters who defected to Vox in previous elections.
Vox attracted attention for its very conservative views on sex and gender, immigration and the like. Its declining vote share suggests only some of those messages resonated. The Popular Party made headway by co-opting more mainstream elements of Vox’s platform, such as tamping down regional separatism. If Vox enters a coalition, its voters will see whether the party can reward their trust with substantive achievements.
Despite the inconclusive result overall, the revival of another center-right party in Europe in this weekend’s election is cause for celebration rather than consternation. These parties should be agents of economic renewal that also moderate the culture-war impulses of the far right. Greece and now Spain have shown it’s still possible.
WSJ Editorials are written by the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Editorial Board. The Board speak for free markets and free people, the principles, if you will, marked in the watershed year of 1776 by Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” So over the past century and into the next, the Journal stands for free trade and sound money; against confiscatory taxation and the ukases of kings and other collectivists; and for individual autonomy against dictators, bullies and even the tempers of momentary majorities. Energiesnet.com does not necessarily share these views.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on July 24, 2023. EnergiesNet.com do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld or EnergiesNet.com
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EnergiesNet.com 07 24 2023