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How people’s jobs can determine who they vote for in Spain

As Spain is set to start six months of election fever, sociological research has revealed that people's profession can determine who they are most likely to vote for in Spain, and there are some surprising results.

How people's jobs can determine who they vote for in Spain
Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez scores high among pensioners and the unemployed. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

The latest barometer from Spain’s Public Research Institute (CIS) has shown that there are jobs in Spain that make you more or less likely to vote for a particular political party, and given an interesting (if not slightly surprising) sense of the political climate ahead of regional elections in May and a general election by the end of the year.

GUIDE: Elections in Spain in 2023

Often the CIS polling analyses Spanish voting intention along more familiar demographic lines: age, gender, location, religion, to name just a few.

Another very interesting and revealing one is people’s jobs and the effect it has on their voting intention.

Though far from a perfect study (the methodology doesn’t differentiate between levels of workers within a sector, for example, and can use quite vague descriptors) it nonetheless provides a useful broad strokes picture of the political landscape as we advance into this bumper political year.

So, what did the CIS find, and which professions are more likely to vote for which party?

Who is loyal to the two-party system?

Of the two main political parties that have dominated Spanish politics since the end of the Franco dictatorship, there are clear splits.

Support for the Socialists (PSOE), the incumbent party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, scored on average 22 percent support among respondents, and scored best not among workers, but among retirees and pensioners, from whom they received 30.4 percent, as well as people who are ‘economically inactive’ (30.2 percent), unpaid domestic workers (23.6 percent) and the unemployed (23.4 percent).

PSOE was supported by 59.7 percent by voters over 64 years of age. The main opposition party, Partido Popular (PP) also polled fairly well with older voters, on 45.4 percent. PP has a greater impact with voters between the ages of 35 and 64, with support of 63.4 percent compared to PSOE’s 58 percent.

PP, which on average had 19.9 percent support, surpassed PSOE among directors and managers (32 percent), administrative support personnel (26.8 percent) as well as farmers, agricultural, forestry and fishing workers (24.1 percent).

Popular Party (PP) leader and presidential candidate Alberto Núñez Feijóo (C) has the vote of many company managers as well as people in the fishing and agricultural industry. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)


Who are militant Vox supporters?

The CIS data also showed that there is only one professional category for which the two-party system is broken and neither PSOE nor PP leads: in the military and police force, of which a whopping 38.5 percent say they would vote for far-right party Vox if there were general elections tomorrow.

The far-right party, led by Santiago Abascal, also far exceeded its average support (which was 8.4 percent) among farmers and other primary sector occupations (21.4 percent), as well as among students (13 percent), and Spaniards working in management positions (12.6 percent).

Perhaps most interestingly, since the last general election, held in November 2019, the average age of voters backing Vox has decreased. In fact, according to CIS findings it is set to be the party that will benefit the most from the new cohort of voters voting for the first time in an election. Vox would, if an election were held today, impact on 20.1 percent of those ‘new’ voters; a figure that, when translated into votes, would be almost 360,000 young people.

Vox utilities a very effective social media campaign to appeal to young voters, and has around treble the numbers of followers that PP and PSOE do on Instagram.

Leader of the far-right party Vox Santiago Abascal has a lot of support in the military, the police force and young people who haven’t voted before. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Who supports Spain’s far left?

This was also the first barometer since deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz formally launched her Sumar platform, something that has been dividing the parties to the left of Sánchez’s PSOE.


Sumar scored an average of 8.4 percent, and Podemos, the junior coalition partner in government, 5.1 percent. Both far-left parties ahead their highest levels of support among professionals, scientists and intellectuals (13.5 percent for Sumar and 9 percent for Podemos), as well as with students (7.1 percent and 7.4 percent respectively).

It remains to be seen if the two leftist factions will find an agreement and unite the electoral bases before the general election.

Spanish Minister of Labour Yolanda Díaz (C) is Spain’s most popular politician, opinion polls have shown. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Which parties do Spain’s workers not like?

It is also interesting to consider where each party polls worst compared to its average data.

PSOE does worst with the military and police (8.7 percent).

For the PP, the worst figure is that of machine operators and factory workers assemblers (10 percent), while Vox polled just 2.4 support among domestic workers.

Who do Spaniards want as Prime Minister?

CIS also asked respondents which party leader they would prefer as Prime Minister. The results roughly mirror the partisan support figures, with some subtle differences. Pedro Sánchez is the most popular overall (21.3 percent average), and his support among retirees and pensioners stands out (30.2 percent). Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of PP, is the preferred candidate of 14.6 percent overall, and among the managerial class 28.1 percent.

But the leaders at the political extremes seem to have the most loyal support among specific groups in Spain. Vox’s Santiago Abascal is the favourite leader among a single group of voters, that of the police and military (27.8 percent support, compared to just 5.8 percent on average), and the second most popular among a specific section of the electorate was Yolanda Díaz, the favourite of professionals, scientists and intellectuals (22.3 percent, with an overall average of 13.2 percent).

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Spain’s Feijóo faces key vote without support to be PM

Lawmakers will on Tuesday begin debating Alberto Núñez Feijóo's bid to become Spain's next prime minister a day before an inauguration vote the right-wing opposition leader is almost certain to lose.

Spain's Feijóo faces key vote without support to be PM

Without the necessary support to obtain 176 votes in the 350-seat parliament, Feijóo is likely to use the opportunity to attack Pedro Sánchez’s efforts to stay on as premier by courting a hardline Catalan separatist party cast in the role of kingmaker.

A month after Spain’s inconclusive July election, King Felipe VI tasked Feijóo — whose Popular Party (PP) won the most votes — with forming a new government ahead of an investiture vote on September 27.

Although he has garnered the support of the far-right Vox plus a handful of other seats, Feijóo has found himself four seats short — with regional parties rejecting any alliance that would include Vox over its hardline opposition to Spain’s system of devolved regional politics.

“If I accepted” the demands of regional parties, “I could be prime minister next week. But I don’t intend to give in to blackmail,” Feijóo told El Mundo daily on Monday, acknowledging he faced almost certain defeat in Wednesday’s vote. “I will not rule at any price.”

The debate could allow Feijóo “to outline an alternative programme that would be a big contrast” from what Sánchez is proposing for the future, Astrid Barrio, a political scientist at Valencia University, told AFP.

In this context, the 62-year-old has spent the last few weeks attacking Sánchez for the likely concessions he will need to make to the hardline Catalan separatist JxCat party to stay in power.

That was the central theme of the Sunday mass protest he called in Madrid, under the mantra: “Defending the equality of all Spaniards”.

Carrying Spanish flags and banners, around 40,000 people, according to the organisers and the Madrid authorities, gathered two days before the debate on Feijóo, who currently does not have a majority, becoming head of government.

‘Unjustified and unethical’

JxCat’s main demand for its seven key votes in support of Sánchez is for an amnesty for hundreds of activists facing legal action over the 2017 failed Catalan separatist bid which sparked Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

An amnesty “has no place within the Constitution”, Feijóo said Thursday, describing it on X, formerly Twitter, as “an unjustified and unethical attack on the rule of law and the separation of powers” because it defies rulings handed down by the courts.

The parliamentary debate begins on Tuesday with a speech by Feijóo followed by a first vote on Wednesday when he will need to secure 176 votes in favour.

If he fails, he will then face a second vote on Friday when he will need a simple majority of more votes in favour than against.

Barring any unexpected surprises, Feijóo is not expected to pass either vote which will give Sánchez a turn to try to piece together a government.

If Sánchez is unable to pass an investiture vote withing two months of Wednesday’s vote, Spain will face new elections, most likely in January.

The amnesty controversy

To pass the vote, Sánchez is banking on support from two Catalan separatist parties which both supported his candidate for parliamentary speaker in a vote last month.

For that, they had demanded that lawmakers be permitted to speak in Catalan, Basque and Galician when addressing Spain’s parliament — which came into force last Tuesday.

But approving an amnesty, which would affect Catalan separatist leaders who fled Spain to avoid prosecution over the independence bid like JxCat leader Carles Puigdemont — is an extremely sensitive political issue.

Approving an amnesty is not only a red line for the right but also for elements within Sánchez’s own Socialist party.

Among the Socialists opposed to the move are Castilla La Mancha’s regional leader and former premier Felipe Gonzalez, who on Wednesday said: “We must not let ourselves be blackmailed.”

Although Sánchez’s government in 2021 pardoned around a dozen Catalan separatists who had been jailed over the failed secession bid, he has yet to speak publicly about the amnesty issue.

“I will be faithful to the policy of normalisation in Catalonia,” he said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, referring to his
efforts to calm separatist tensions in the wealthy northeastern region since taking office five years ago.