The 2014 European Parliament (EP) election in Spain took place in a context of deep economic recession and distrust of political institutions. These conditions triggered an unprecedented electoral response through which Podemos, a radical leftist party created shortly before the election, obtained eight per cent of votes and gained electoral momentum thereafter, seriously threatening the two-party-plus system. Using data from a panel survey, our analyses reveal some unexpected findings. The intensity of protest voting and the timing of the contest within the national electoral cycle have had a major impact on national politics – with the possibility of eventually producing a party-system change.
Ever since the first elections for the European Parliament (EP) held in Spain in 1987, the debate about the electoral system has been inexorably linked to criticisms from nationalist and regionalist parties. Since the whole country forms a large single-district, their arguments lie on the unfairness of the electoral system for allegedly over-representing major parties and penalizing much smaller parties, particularly those whose electorates are limited to only a specifi c region of the Spanish territory. According to their claims, the current system forces nationalist parties to join occasional and often unnatural electoral coalitions with parties belonging to very disparate families. For this reason, nationalist parties have been demanding the substitution of the current single-district model by several regional districts whose borders should match those of the Spanish regions (...)