Numbers are not so bad for left Galician nationalism after all

AGE and BNG reach 24% of the popular vote in Galician parliamentary election, four points more than the Spanish Socialists · The lack of a Galician nationalist party that can get centre-right votes helps PP to secure huge wins

Galician nationalism will be represented at the Galician Parliament by two different political coalitions, a situation not seen in Galicia since 1989 election. Elections to choose all 75 MPs of the Galician Parliament were held yesterday, with Spanish nationalist Popular Party (PP) securing an overall majority of 41 MPs and allowing current president Alberto Núñez Feijóo to keep his position for the next four years. Spanish Socialists (PSOE) suffered major loses and could only retain 18 seats (they had 25). The other two political forces that will have seats in the Pazo do Hórreo (Galician Nationalist Bloc, BNG, and Galician Left Alternative, AGE) claim to be based in Galician nationalism (only partially in AGE's case).

BNG imploded earlier this year when a number of its leaders and members left the organization and later founded two new electoral coalitions: AGE and centrist Compromise for Galicia (CxG). There was a risk that a good deal of 270,000 votes obtained by BNG in 2009 (16% of the popular vote) got now extremely divided and that many of them were lost if the new coalitions did not surpass the 5% threshold established by the electoral law to make it to Parliament. Finally this did not happen, but this does not prevent Galician nationalism to have a radically new distribution from now onwards.

This is mainly because newly established AGE got yesterday more votes and seats than BNG. AGE is led by Xosé Manuel Beiras, who headed BNG from 1986 to 2001 and left the organization this year. He founded a new left Galician nationalist party (Anova) and reached a coalition agreement with left Spanish federalist United Left, Spanish Greens Equo and Galician Greens Galician Ecosocialist Space. All four parties went to elections under the umbrella of AGE and performed surprisingly well, if one takes into account that the coalition did not exist only one month ago: 200,000 votes (14%) and 9 seats. For comparison purposes: United Left got only 16,000 votes (1%) three years ago.

BNG is the other side of the coin. From 16% of the popular vote and 12 seats, the party only retained yesterday 145,000 votes (10%) and 7 MPs. Their candidate Francisco Jorquera admitted that the party "was not able to tune in" to Galician voters and that the result was "a serious blow".

On the other hand, CxG got the worst result by coalitions emerging from BNG. CxG got only 14,000 votes (1%) and no seats. Their leader Xoán Bascuas said yesterday that the CxG's project needs "time" to "solidify and germinate".

Galician nationalism-led options surpass 25%

All in all, yesterday's elections showed that a Galician nationalism has a wide electorate on the left: AGE and BNG together got 24,15% of the popular vote, a result that had not been reached since 1997. The main problem continues to be the absence of a Galician party that can get a significant vote on the right and on the centre of the political spectrum. This gives PP the chance to win each and every election in Galicia, usually with an overall majority even if they do not reach 50% of the popular vote.