THE conservative Partido Popular opens its party conference on Friday (July 10) and will use the time to discuss how they can win back support from disaffected, young voters. Spanish youth have abandoned the traditional parties in their droves, to give their votes to the newer formations, the left-wing Podemos and centre-right Ciudadanos.
The PP’s recovery strategy includes the unveiling of four new, young vice-presidents at the conference. The party’s vote crashed at the local elections in May, and with a general election due in the autumn, it is hoping to cauterise its loss of support to avoid a defeat on an embarrassing scale.
PP leader Mariano Rajoy has issued scathing attacks on Podemos and the PSOE socialist party in recent weeks, claiming that PSOE is becoming dangerously close to what he called the “extreme left.”
But it is Ciudadanos and its young leader Albert Rivera which could cause the PP real problems as the more natural rivals for their votes. It is said that Rajoy is due to concentrate his criticism on Rivera in the coming weeks, in an effort to undermine the portrayal of the Ciudadanos leader as a politician who can build consensus between parties.
However, there is dispute within the PP as to whether more confrontational politicking is the best strategy. “We need to break with that discourse, and prove that the growth policies and reforms we have implemented are the best way for a young person to develop a life project and find a job,” Andrea Levy, the party’s deputy secretary for study programmes, told Spanish daily El Pais.
Youth unemployment is falling in Spain, but remains just a hair’s breadth below 50 per cent.