Democracies in the Age of Fragmentation: Spain’s Coalitional Government Collapses

As many readers of this blog know, I have been writing for some time now about the forces that are making democratic politics throughout the West more fragmented and that, as a result, are making it all the more difficult to deliver effective government. Spain is a typical example, and the most recent news from there further confirms this story.

Since it became a modern democracy in the mid-1970s, Spain had effectively been a two-party system. But starting around 2015, that system collapsed, with the major parties hemorrhaging support to a variety of parties, including newly emergent insurgent ones. The result was that Spain had to hold four national elections from 2015-2019 in the effort to find a stable governing majority. After the 2019 elections, it took many months to form a government — which was the first coalitional government in the country’s modern history. Yet that fragile coalition has now collapsed, with Spain’s Prime Minister now dissolving the parliament and calling for new elections in July.

As the NYT reports, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Worker’s Party was crushed in recent local and regional elections by the conservative Popular Party and the Vox Party, considered further to the right of the conservatives. Vox doubled its vote share compared to the 2019 local elections. This is all a sign of the perpetual dissatisfaction in our era with the performance of democratic governments and the continual search for new alternatives, none of which seem to increase citizen satisfaction all that much.

For a couple of my academic pieces on democracies in the age of fragmentation, see here and here.

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