Which country has a two-party system?

The revolutionaries of Spanish politics

In the European elections in 2014, the new left-wing populist party Podemos received eight percent of the vote and thus five European mandates. Since then, their popularity in surveys has only increased. In the regional elections in Andalusia in spring 2015, the newcomer rose to the third strongest force and won 15 percent of the votes. How did this rapid rise come about?


Podemos - product of citizen protests

In 2011/2012, many young Spaniards took to the streets to accuse social, political and economic ills in their country. Podemos sees its legitimacy in this movement, and this is where the party's election manifesto starts: The party is committed to a healthy economic system in which corruption has no place - dubious links between politics and business are to be cut. Ultimately, Podemos wants to clean up the Spanish political elite and change the Spanish electoral system to put an end to the two-party system.


Ciudadanos - For liberal economics

Ciudadanos is positioned as an opponent to Podemos on the political spectrum. The party was founded in Barcelona in 2006, but has since made a name for itself on a national level as well. The conservative-liberal party advocates “gentle political change”: Ciudadanos also wants to end the two-party system. But her moderate demeanor makes her an interesting opponent to Podemos. During the regional elections in Andalusia, Ciudadanos remained just behind Podemos with 9 seats, but the party still sees its election results as having room for improvement. In particular, it writes its economic program on the election flags: In order to reduce unemployment, the party proposes to ban precarious and fixed-term employment relationships and, above all, to better support the long-term unemployed through further training measures. Companies that take on the long-term unemployed should receive tax breaks.

In Spain, where almost one in four people is unemployed and the government continues to implement austerity measures, such promises fall on fertile ground.


Ciudadanos and Podemos are learning to fear the established parties

Should one of the two newcomers win enough votes in the parliamentary elections to overtake one of the two established parties PP or PSOE, it could lose its primacy in parliament. Spain's entire political system could thus face a fresh start.


Why it is so difficult for small parties to get a seat in the national parliament
The 248 parliamentary seats are divided according to the population size of the Spanish provinces. In addition, there are two main mandates per province, i.e. 100 seats. But the population varies from province to province and thus also the number of parliamentary seats they are entitled to. In some constituencies there are only one or two MPs, large constituencies such as Valencia (16 seats), Barcelona (31 seats) and Madrid (35 seats) can have significantly more members. The average number of mandates is 6.7. As a result, small parties in small constituencies have almost no chance of getting a seat in parliament: with 6.7 mandates to be distributed, they would have to gain at least 15 percent of the votes. If it does not bring the result, the remaining votes are lost. For this reason, smaller parties in small constituencies do not even put up candidates, or in the other case they are not even elected. This system therefore favors the two major Spanish parties, the socialist PSOE and the conservative PP.