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Oxfam Report exposes reality of Spain’s “economic recovery”(2016-6-27)

Spanish political system in turmoil over hung parliament(2015-12-25
)

危機からぬけ出せないスペイン、国債利回り7%、引き締めで税収減(2012-7-10)

スペインの10年物国債入札で利率は6%を上回る。IMFの支援情勢(2012-4-17)

スペインの財政赤字は2011年8%超、12年のユーロの規律守れず(2012-3-3)

スペインも政権交代ーそれでも雨は広野に降り続ける(2011-11-22)


スペインでは11月20日(日)の選挙で8年間政権にあった社会党が敗れ右派の国民(民衆・)党(Popular Party)が地滑り的な勝利をおさめ政権に就くことになった。今スペインは失業率が20%を超えている。ユーロ圏の中では最も失業率が高い国になってしまった。2011年末には失業率は23.5%に達した特に若年層(18~25歳)の失業率は50%を超えている。

表1 ユーロ諸国の失業率(%)

ドイツ オランダ フランス イタリー スペイン ポルトガル ギリシャ
00 8.0 3.0 9.0 10.1 11.1 4.5 n.a
01 7.9 2.6 8.3 9.1 10.4 4.6 n.a
02 8.7 3.1 8.6 8.6 11.1 5.7 n.a
03 9.8 4.1 9.0 8.4 11.1 7.1 n.a
04 10.5 5.1 9.2 8.0 10.6 7.5 10.5
05 11.2 5.3 9.3 7.7 9.2 8.6 9.9
06 10.2 4.3 9.2 6.8 8.5 8.6 8.9
07 8.8 3.6 8.4 6.1 8.3 8.9 8.3
08 7.6 3.1 7.8 6.8 11.4 8.5 7.7
09 7.7 3.7 9.5 7.8 18.0 10.6 9.4
10 7.0 4.5 9.8 8.4 20.1 12.0
12.5
11/1Q 6.4 4.3 9.7 8.1 20.6 12.4 15.7
11/2Q 6.2 4.2 9.7 8.0 20.8 12.6 16.1


経済成長率も2008年に0.9%に落ち込み2009年、2010年と連続してマイナスである。2008年アキノレーマン・ショック以降立ち直れずに今日に至っている。それはギリシャ、イタリー、ポルトガルとみな同じである。共通して言えることはこれら4か国は製造業が弱く、貿易赤字が2004年ごろから急拡大したということである。

第2表 ユーロ諸国のGDP実質成長率(%)

ドイツ オランダ フランス イタリー スペイン ポルトガル ギリシャ
00 3.3 4.0 3.9 3.9 5.0 3.9
01 1.6 2.0 1.8 1.7 3.6 2.0 4.2
02 0 0.1 0.9 0.5 2.7 0.7 3.4
03 -0.4 0.3 0.9 0.1 3.1 -0.9 5.9
04 0.7 2.0 2.3 1.4 3.3 1.6 4.4
05 0.8 2.2 1.9 0.8 3.6 0.8 2.3
06 3.9 3.5 2.7 2.1 4.0 1.4 5.2
07 3.4 3.9 2.2 1.4 3.6 2.4 4.3
08 0.8 1.8 -0.2 -1.3 0.9 0.0 1.0
09 -2.7 -3.5 -2.6 -7.0 -3.7 -2.5 -2.3
10 2.1 1.6 1.4 -0.4 -0.1 1.3 -4.4
11/1Q 1.3 0.8 0.9 0.1 0.4 -0.6 0.2
11/2Q 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.2 0.0 n.a.


つまり、経済成長率の低下とともに失業率が急上昇したのである。ザパテ-ロ前首相は真面目な人柄であり、レーマン・ショックとともに貿易赤字を減らし財政を立て直せというEU本部の指令を忠実に実行した結果こうなったのである。貿易収支は下の第3表に見るように見事に減った。

ザパテーロ首相は2008年のレーマン・ショック後に15%の予算削減、15%の賃金・年金カットを強行し、国内経済は一挙に不況に突入してしまった

スペインについてはユーロ導入後に投機マネーが流入し、不動産バブルが起こり、それがパンクして銀行が不良債権を多く抱えたという説明がなされている。その時スペインに背局的に融資を行っていたのがドイツの銀行であった。

バブル崩壊だけがスペイン経済の停滞をの原因とは言えない。産業構造上の要因、すなわち製造業の弱体の要因のほうか大きいと考えられる。

債務残高はGDP比61.0%でさほど多いとはいえない。イタリーは118.4%に達している。貿易赤字も下の第3表にみるように209年から激減している。それだけ「引き締めの効果」はあったといえる。そのかわり、国内経済は死んでしまったのである。「病気は直ったが患者は死んだ」のである。

スペインはなぜか財政赤字を周辺国から問題視されてきた。社会党政権であるということによって不必要にたたかれたフシもある。ドイツもフランスも右派政権である。財政赤字は2009年は11.1%あった。これはレーマン・ショック後の不況も影響した。2010年には赤字は9.2%であった。2011年は赤字を6%にまで下げるべく努力していた。しかし、国内経済の不振は続き目標達成は困難であり、一層の引き締めがさらに事態を悪化させ失業者の急増につながった。

2011年11月の選挙で国民党はこれといった経済回復のシナリオを提示することなく、選挙で楽勝してしまった。国民が「現状打破」を政権交代に求めたのである。政権が交代しても新たな展望が開けるはずもない。スペインに降る雨は晴れ間を見ることなく長期に続くことになろう。

EU本部あるいはドイツなどのいうことを工業弱国が真面目に聞いて実行すればこうなるのである。だからザパテイロ氏は選挙で負けてもテレビで見る限り実にサバサバした顔をしていた。おそらく原因と結果についてきちんとして理解し、こうなることはわっかていたのであろう。そもそもユーロ圏などに参加したからこうなったのである。それは社会党やザパテイロ氏の責任ではない。

”The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain." 国民党が政権をとっても広野の雨が止むわけではない。ユーロ危機について多くの論者が多くのことを語っているが共通した病状についての分析があまりに少ない。ユーロ体制の欠陥や「自由貿易体制」の欠陥について話が及ぶことをみんなで避けているのである。「風を引いて熱が出たら患者を冷たい水をはったバス・タブに突っ込め」といった療法ばかりである。スペインはおかげで肺炎になってしまった。

スペインはアルゼンチンを見習うほかなさそうである。

第3表 スペインの貿易収支(100万ユーロ)

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
商品輸出(FOB) 115,769 117,522 127,162 158,049 185,209 196,580 220,696 264,053 284,721 228,704 252,958
商品輸入(FOB) 152,856 152,039 161,795 203,205 251,939 281,784 325,318 389,291 411,334 287,660 315,247
貿易収支 -37,087 -34,517 -34,633 -45,156 -66,730 -85,204 -104,622 -125,238 -126,613 -58,956 -62,289
サービス:Credit 52,453 55,651 60,247 74,308 86,078 94,663 106,665 128,148 143,813 123,085 123,874
サービス:Debit 33,171 35,182 38,712 47,951 59,188 67,129 78,588 96,492 105,594 87,389 87,172
総合貿易収支 -17,805 -14,048 -13,098 -18,799 -39,840 -57,670 -76,545 -93,582 -88,394 -23,260 -25,587

資料:IFS

スペインの財政赤字は2011年8%超、ユーロの規律守れず(2012-3-3)

スペインは昨年末右派の国民党政権に代わったばかりだが、2011年の財政赤字は8%を超えると発表した。前政権の予想では6%程度とみていたが、比較的強い自治権を持つ地方政府の赤字が想定以上の大きさで、国全体の赤字は拡大した。地方政府は地域経済を活性化すると称して、囚人が誰も入っていない刑務所や、飛行機が来ない空港を作るなどかなり放漫な財政支出を行ってきたと指弾されている。

国民党政権は2012年の予算で支出を89億ユーロ(約8,900億円)削減した。さらに公務員の削減や政党助成金のカットなどを織り込んだ。一方、60億ユーロの増税を目指している。ただし、消費税は引き上げないといっている。しかし、2012年の財政赤字はGDPの5.8%に達すると政府は公言しており、当初EUとの間で取り決めたとされる4.4%を早くも達成できない見通しである。

経済状態は2011年4Qから目立って悪化しており、それが2012年前半も続き、輸出も不振なことから失業者もさらに増加するとみている。現在の失業率は22.8%に達し、約500万人が失業中である。

スペインの銀行がかあけている不動産投資がらみの不良債権は1,750億€(約18.7兆円)に上るといわれている。

ユーロ圏は財政赤字をGDPの3.0%(当初は0.5%としていたがどこも守れそうもないので3.0%に変えた)にすべしという取り決めを行ったが、とうてい守れそうもない。イタリーやギリシャも同様な傾向にある。

(結局2012年の財政赤字は-5.3%)に収めることで、決着)⇒2012-3-13

EUは3月12日夜、スペイン政府が申請した2012年の財政赤字計画5.8%に対し、すったもんだの末5.3%とする妥協案で決着した。無理なものは無理なのであるが、これでもスペインの経済は少しもよくならないであろう。引き締め政策で経済がよくなった非輸出国は存在しない。どこかで緩めていかなければ内需に依存する国は回復のきっかけをつかめない。


スペインの10年物国債入札で利率は6%を上回る。IMFの支援情勢(2012-4-17)


スペインは2012年4月16日に10年物国債の入札を行ったが、ドイツなどからの支援が得られず、利率が6.06%と危険水域の6%を上回った。先に行われたイタリア国債はは5.56%とこれまた高い金利水準となった。ユーロは下げ続けており1.30ドル/ユーロ前後まで落ち込んでいる。

スペインのハイメ・ガルシア(Jaime Garcia-Legas)副経済相はECBを訪問し、「介入」を要請したがECBはそれを拒否している。これはもちろんドイツの差し金とみられる。ECBの理事で表だって反対しているのはオランダのクラース(Klaas Knot)氏である。要するにドイツとオランダはイタリーやスペインの窮状を救うつもりはないということである。

仕方なしに、スペインはIMFに助けを求める羽目になるが、IMFでは米国がユーロ救済融資に強く反対している。IMFは現在の融資可能資金は4,000億ドルしかなく、増資しなければユーロ圏への融資は容易ではない。中国と日本はIMFの増資を行う意向があるが、米国の反対を無視するわけにはいかない。


危機からぬけ出せないスペイン、国債利回り7%、引き締めで税収減(2012-7-10)

EUサミットで域内に新たな金融センターを設置して、それが各国の銀行債務の面倒を見るということが決まったが、具体化が遅れている。この方針に反対しているのはオランダとフィンランドだがドイツも内心賛成ではない。具体化を急がせたいのはフランス以下ラテン諸国とギリシャなどである。この潜在的対立は結構ヤッカイな問題を残していてユーロ圏再建の足を引っ張りかねない。

ところでスペインは政府の金繰りがつかないため10年もの国債を出したが、再び利回りが7%(イタリーは6%)に達してしまった。ヨーロッパ(あるいはユーロ)共同債が出せれば、問題は一挙に解決するがドイツは何としてもイエスとはいわない。つまり共同体としてのEUが機能していない。

また、ドイツが発案しサルコジが賛成した「財政規律」はスペイン(ほかの弱小国も同様のはずだが)をことのほか苦しめている。というのは景気が悪化の一途をたどっているので税収が減ってきているのである。そのためますます財政赤字が膨らんでしまい、「引き締めを一層強化する」というジレンマに陥っている。

こうなることは最初から分かっていたことだが、意地の悪いドイツは他国の苦しみを冷ややかに眺めているだけである。自分のところに火の粉が降りかからなければよいというユーロ圏の指導国としてはあるまじき態度をとり続けている。各国が「財政自主権を放棄すれば」少しはカネを出してやるという露骨な「帝国主義的政策(他国をドイツの支配下に組み込もうとしている)」を打ち出している。

フランスがオランド政権に代わったのでドイツの目論見は一頓挫しているがドイツがフランスのいうことに屈服するはずもない。両国の協調などというのは表面的なものにすぎない。ユーロを機能不全にしているのはドイツであるということもできる。ドイツもユーロ圏の苦境の影響を受けざるを得ない。ドイツのEU向け輸出は60%であり、ユーロ圏向け輸出は40%である。

どちらにせよヨーロッパの苦境は今後ますます深まっていく可能性がある。

Bloomberg(7月10日
によるとスペインに対して7月末までに300億ユーロ(約3兆円)の融資が6カ国の財務相会議で決定され、1000億ユーロ(約10兆円)の緊急融資も行われるという。それはスペインの銀行の浮上と同時にスペイン政府の財政赤字対策であるという。融資の主体は「ユーロ地域救済基金」(the euro-area bailout fund)が使われるという。

スペイン政府はこの救済基金をうけいれるために別の「銀行監視機関」を設立する。スペインの銀行は合計で不動産関連の不良融資残1800億ユーロ(約18兆円)を抱えているといわれている。EFSF(Europe Financial Stability Facility)は最長15年(平均12.5年)のローンをスペインに供与し、それが満期を迎えると近々発足するESM(Europe Stability Mechanism=欧州安定化メカニズム)がすべて引き受ける。これに対してスペインのデ・ギンドス(De Gindos) 経済相は条件が非常にすっきりしていると大歓迎である。これでいったんはスペインの新たな危機は落ち着いたかに見える。

ヨーロッパ委員会事務局は「年末までには単一の金融機関冠詞組織」を立ち上げるといっているが、、ドイツのショウブル財務相は「物事はそう簡単にはいかない。決まるまでには時間がかかる」とくぎを刺している。ドイツ、オランダ、フィンランドなどの消極派が様々な抵抗を試みる可能性がある。

ヨーロッパ中央銀行(ECB)は国債買い上げは行わないという態度でここ17週間は一貫している。



Spanish political system in turmoil over hung parliament(2015-12-25)
WSWS

By Paul Mitchell
23 December 2015

Spain is in turmoil since Sunday’s elections resulted in a hung parliament and a historic collapse of the two-party system that has dominated Spanish politics since the end of the fascist Franco dictatorship in 1977. At 123 and 90 seats, respectively, the Popular Party (PP) and the Socialist Party (PSOE) are both well short of the 176 seats needed for a majority in the Congress.

European leaders expressed their concern almost as soon as the polls closed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reported to be “interested and alarmed” at the result, and spokesperson Christiane Wirtz told reporters that it was “not very clear yet” who to “congratulate” in Spain.

The main beneficiaries of electoral opposition to the two main parties were the Podemos party (20.7 percent, 69 seats) and the right-wing Citizens party (13.9 percent, 40 seats). These parties, which both received extensive media coverage amid rising popular anger with the austerity policies of the PP and the PSOE, criticised corruption and presented younger candidates, claiming a new generation would shake up political life.

What dominates currently in the Spanish media and political establishment is perplexity over how to form a new government. However, it would be a dangerous illusion to believe that the emergence of an unstable, four-party system in Spain marks a real political break with policies of austerity and war pursued by the European Union (EU) and the Spanish bourgeoisie. While Podemos in particular has marketed itself as a critic of austerity, it has no fundamental differences with the agenda of the PSOE and PP.

Following the election result, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias declared, “A new Spain has been born.” He declared that this marked the end “of the alternate political system” in which power oscillated between the PSOE and PP.

In fact, the Spanish and international bourgeoisie is working with all its might behind the scenes to cobble together some sort of coalition government or pact. But all the possibilities are unstable, raising the prospect of fresh elections next year.

On Monday, incumbent PP Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pronounced himself the election winner, saying his party had won the most seats. Rajoy declared, “Whoever wins the election must try to form a government, and I will try to form one. Spain needs a stable government.”

On Monday evening, the PP executive met to discuss the results with former president José Aznar, who is still the party’s honorary chairman but has not attended such meetings since 2011. Aznar called for a party conference and leadership contest “as soon as possible.”

PSOE organisation secretary César Luena left open the possibility that the removal of Rajoy may be the signal for the PSOE to support a minority PP government, declaring that the Spanish people had “voted for change from Rajoy”.

Several PSOE “barons” led by former PSOE Prime Minister Felipe González have indicated they oppose any “pact of the left” that involves a government alliance with Podemos. PSOE leader in Extremadura, Fernández Vara, declared, “We cannot accept Catalonia independence or self-determination. Either they [Podemos] renounce it or there is no government pact.”

Citizens party leader Albert Rivera has also called on PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez to back a minority PP government “with budgets already approved” and refrain from trying to form a government with Podemos and the separatists.

Popular opposition to austerity and militarism supported by the four leading parties hardly featured in the Spanish election. Podemos has made clear that it was ready to carry out austerity policies by supporting Greece’s Syriza government as it capitulated to the demands of the European Union (EU) for stepped-up austerity measures.

Podemos will follow the same path. Any government it is part of or supports will comply with IMF demands for “a clear commitment to continue structural reforms and to put the level of sovereign debt on a firmly declining path [that] would help anchor confidence.” It will also carry out the EU Commission’s recent declaration that further labour reforms are needed “as soon as possible” to further cut wages and increase “flexibility”.

The media is once again questioning Spain’s much vaunted return to growth this year, following years of economic collapse. This growth, however, has been based on an unsustainable policy of forcing down wages and prices relative to other eurozone members, stimulus from cheap oil and a weak euro, and the ECB’s Quantitative Easing programme.

Podemos has already abandoned the social demands it adopted at its founding in January 2014, including nationalising top companies and banks, exiting from NATO, lowering the retirement age, raising pensions, and introducing a basic universal wage. These measures, it must be said, were always a fraud. Leaders of the Pabloite Anti-capitalist Left, who helped write the programme, said it was never taken seriously and that Podemos’ main concern was building an electoral machine headed by the “media commando” Iglesias.

In its trajectory to the right Podemos also made overtures to the army and the Catholic Church and began promoting patriotism. It backed the austerity policies imposed in Greece by Syriza and campaigned for Tsipras’ re-election last September.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, Podemos changed its policy toward the regions under pressure from some of its regional leaders to call for a referendum on Catalan independence. Iglesias declared that although “Catalonia is a nation and must have a different constitutional framework,” Podemos was the only force that could ensure the unity of Spain, because it recognises the “pluri-national” character of Spain.

Podemos then won by a considerable margin in Catalonia and won the most votes in the Basque Country.

With Podemos concentrating on the corruption of the “caste” and promoting its alliances with the military and the Church, the ruling elite was able to mount an attempt to construct a “Podemos of the Right”. Thus was born Citizens, a party of former PP and PSOE officials, which sought to use similar populist rhetoric to bolster the PP.

For all the media promotion of Citizens, and political commentators’ claims that it would poll second and become the king-maker in a new PSOE- or PP-led government, its support slumped in the last week of the election. Party leader Albert Rivera gave the game away on Friday when he declared that he would “abstain in a vote to form a government by the party receiving the most votes”. That was seen as making a vote for Citizens tantamount to a vote for the PP, undermining their previous “anti-corruption” posture.


Oxfam Report exposes reality of Spain’s “economic recovery”(2016-6-27)

By James Lerner
19 February 2016

After years of unrelenting recession and stagnation, Spain has finally managed to string together a few quarters of timid economic growth—reaching 3.2 percent for 2015, with unemployment easing slightly.

The bourgeois media and politicians in Spain and across Europe have sought to present this as a success story. Spain has pulled itself out of the post-2008 economic downturn, they proclaim, on the strength of its “painful sacrifices” and European Union-backed austerity policies, and did so without a bailout. This was in contrast to most of the other so-called “PIIGS” (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain), they state. Spain’s Popular Party (PP) Finance Minister Luis De Guindos boasts that “Spain is now a role model.”

The falseness of this story is subjected to devastating exposure by a recent report by Oxfam International charity on global wealth inequality, “An Economy for the 1%.” The report made headlines last month by revealing that the 62 richest people in the world possess as much wealth as half the world’s population, or 3.6 billion people. A supplement to the report focusing on Spain shows that the country’s own levels of inequality have skyrocketed since the eruption of the global economic crisis in 2008.

A recital of some of the facts makes for shocking reading.

Oxfam found that the 20 richest people in Spain had as much wealth as the bottom 30 percent of the income scale. In just the past year, the net worth of these 20 people increased by 15 percent, while the wealth of 99 percent of the population fell by 15 percent.

Since the 2008 economic crisis, inequality has increased faster in Spain than in any other OECD country (except for Cyprus), and it has done so 10 times faster than the EU average.

Inequality in Spain has increased 14 times faster than even in Greece, the country used as the test case by the EU for continent wide austerity.

The report notes that, in 2014, some 13.4 million Spaniards, nearly 30 percent of the population, were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This is 2.3 million more than in 2008 and six percentage points higher than the average among the core 15 EU countries. This 30 percent has seen its net worth grow by barely 3 percent in the past 15 years, while that of the 10 percent of richest individuals shot up by 56 percent.

Spain’s tax system helps to reinforce and consolidate the chasm between the fortune of the few and the misery of the many. For instance, 2015 was a boom year for SICAV investment funds (Société d’Investissement à Capital Variable, Investment Company with Variable Capital) which are essentially exempt from taxation, and now amount to a market worth €38 billion. Such funds are available only to the very wealthy.

Spain’s level of taxation at 8.2 percent is among the lowest in the euro zone. But this is deceptive. Some 85 percent of taxation falls on households (wages, social security contributions and VAT), rather than assets, wealth and capital. Corporate tax in 2014 brought in 58 percent less revenue for state coffers than in 2007, with the vast majority of revenue lost when the Socialist Party (PSOE) was in power from 2004 to 2011.

Seventeen of the 35 multinationals on the elite IBEX-35 stock index paid no corporate tax at all in Spain, as the number of subsidiaries domiciled in tax havens (especially the Cayman Islands), increased by 44 percent in the year 2014 alone.

The report concludes that Spain “taxes much less than it should, it taxes little those who have the most, it taxes with hardly any redistribution, and has one of the highest rates of tax evasion and avoidance in Europe.”

The result of this is that nine of every 10 euros in taxation comes from the pockets of the working class.

The increased exploitation of the working class, noted in the report, has allowed for renewed economic growth. Average wages in Spain plummeted by 22.2 percent between 2007 and 2014, while dividends paid to shareholders increased by 72.4 percent, the pay packets of senior executives leapt by 80 percent and that of CEOs by 30 percent.

Further, growth has been sustained by a fortuitous mix of external circumstances. First is the low price of oil, which has lowered production costs for Spanish companies. Then, a depreciated euro has boosted Spain’s exports.

Lastly, Spain has been financing itself with an ongoing injection of cheap or free loans from the European Central Bank (ECB), which has kept the money printing machines going non-stop via its quantitative easing programme in an effort to backstop the troubled finances of EU countries like Spain.

The renewed economic growth has done nothing to halt Spain’s descent into the vicious cycle of deflation, in which falling prices depress wages and vice versa. Prices fell by a huge 2.5 percent in January, making annual inflation minus 0.4 percent, down from minus 0.1 percent in December—figures that took analysts and government officials completely by surprise.

The Oxfam report shows that most of the benefits of the recovery have gone to a small group of people, all of whom could fit in a single room. However, the Oxfam report offers only a plea to the existing widely discredited political set-up as a remedy to the terrible social reality it describes. It calls on whatever new parliament eventually issues from December’s general election to take action, detailing a list of measures aimed at alleviating inequality, boosting equality of opportunities, and reining in tax evasion.

Needless to say, such a wish list will be studiously ignored by Spain’s capitalist politicians, including the pseudo-left party Podemos, which is trying to salvage the collapse of the two-party system and cobble together some sort of coalition government that will continue as servants of the financial aristocracy. Its role will be to ensure that the state will in no way hinder—indeed, that it will facilitate—the accumulation of massive wealth by the financial aristocracy.

 

Spain braced for déjà vu in second elections in six months

Polls suggest Podemos may climb to second place but little else likely to change after months of political deadlock

Sunday 26 June 2016 10.58 BST

Spain returns to the polls for the second time in six months on Sunday in an attempt to resolve the political stalemate that has beset the country since last December’s inconclusive general election.

Although there is increasing public frustration over the deadlock, polls suggest the new elections are likely to yield a similar result to last time, with no single party winning enough votes to form a majority government.

It also remains to be seen how profoundly Sunday’s poll - the first major European election since the UK voted to leave the EU - will be affected by Brexit, and whether Spaniards will seek reassurance by backing the conservative People’s Party (PP), or opt for a new alternative.

“It is really important to convey a message of institutional and economic stability,” said acting prime minister and PP head Mariano Rajoy in a televised address after Britain voted to leave. “It is not the moment to fuel or increase uncertainty.”

In December the PP gained the most votes but fell short of the 176 seats required to secure a majority in Spain’s 350-seat congress of deputies.

The socialist PSOE came second, followed by the leftwing, anti-austerity party Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos, or Citizens, party.

The votes attracted by the latter two parties – newcomers to a political scene that has been dominated for decades by the conservatives and the socialists – revealed a profound shift among an electorate that has been buffeted by Spain’s economic crisis and angered by a series of corruption scandals that have engulfed the PP in recent years.

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Polls suggest Podemos’s decision to forge an alliance with the United Left (IU) coalition, whose members include the Communist party of Spain, could lift it above the PSOE into second place. This so-called sorpasso, or overtaking, could give Unidos Podemos a decisive role in shaping the next government.

A poll published late on Saturday night in the Andorra-based paper Periòdic d’Andorra, which is not affected by Spain’s ban on publishing surveys in the five days before the vote, showed the PP ahead on 28.7% of the vote (116-120 seats), and the PSOE and Unidos Podemos almost neck-and-neck with 21.6% (83-87 seats) and 23.9% (83-87 seats) respectively. It suggests that a coalition between the two left parties could yield 174 seats - tantalisingly close to a majority.

Sunday’s vote has been overshadowed not only by Brexit, but also by the latest PP scandal. Leaked conversations recorded between Jorge Fernández Diaz and the head of Catalonia’s anti-fraud office, Daniel de Alfonso, appear to show the two discussing investigations that could be launched against pro-independence Catalan politicians.

Amid the continuing uncertainty – and despite predictions that the economy will grow by 2.6% this year – the mood in Spain is more one of weary fatalism than freshly minted optimism.

Antonio Barroso, an analyst at the political risk advisory firm Teneo Intelligence, said Sunday’s result would probably carry a strong whiff of déjà vu.

“I think what we’re going to have on Sunday is essentially another highly fragmented parliament with a PP victory,” he said. “Basically, if the polls crystallise on Sunday, we will see a very similar picture to what we saw after the December election – but with two of the main characters swapping their roles.”

Barroso played down suggestions that the prospect of further weeks or months of negotiations would send the parties scurrying to form coalitions.

“Rajoy [has said]: ‘This is a shame, the rest of the country will be laughing at us.’ But the reality is that public opinion doesn’t matter because, at the end of the day, parties are political actors with very entrenched interests.”

The divisions that have stymied attempts at coalition-building over the past six months remain strong. Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the PSOE, has ruled out supporting either a PP-led government under Rajoy or a government led by Pablo Iglesias of Podemos. Sánchez’s attempts to put together a coalition with Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos were thwarted in March after Podemos and the PP declined to support the move.

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Alberto Delclaux, a journalist for the Basque newspaper El Correo, said Spain had grown increasingly frustrated and polarised.

“The concerns are the same this time and there’s a bit of despondency because it looks as though, even though we’ve had the sorpasso, the results are going to be very similar when it comes to being able to govern,” he said.

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“There’s also frustration because the four candidates weren’t able to form a government and none of them was willing to step aside. They don’t seem ready to change anything.”

Pau Marí-Klose, a professor of sociology at the University of Zaragoza, characterised the prevailing feeling as one of resignation rather than anger or exhaustion.

“The electorate has stuck firmly to its preferences over these past months,” he said. “You don’t see big changes in the polls. PP and Unidos Podemos voters have shown themselves very loyal to their December options; PSOE and Ciudadanos voters a little less so, but you can’t rule out the possibility that a lot of them will go and vote for their parties at the last minute. And that’s why the results and the turnout rate could be so similar to the last election.”

What had changed, though, said Marí-Klose, was the focus of the debate – something that bodes ill for future negotiations. Over recent months, he said, debates on policy issues – such as how to help vulnerable people affected by the economic crisis – had been overshadowed by bickering.

“The parties have switched to pointing out the defects of their rivals: Ciudadanos and the PSOE have waged a fairly hard campaign against Podemos, and Unidos Podemos have been presenting themselves as the real alternative to the PP, denying the PSOE its traditional role as the main challenger to the PP.”

He added: “It’s almost as if the parties decided that all their policy proposals were so well known that they didn’t need to bang on about them any more and so they devoted themselves to politicking instead.”