THE WEEK IN POLITICS: Gearing up for the Andalucian elections

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CANVASSING: Diaz has hit the campaign trial CREDIT: PSOE Andalucia, via Twitter

THE leaders of Spain’s political parties have begun pitching for votes in Andalucia’s upcoming election which is likely to be a dress rehearsal for a national ballot.

The election seems on the surface to be the left-leaning Partido Socialista’s (PSOE) to lose. Junta de Andalucia President Susana Diaz, of the PSOE, fended off rival parties in 2015 elections and has held the post since 2013.

Andalucia has been a PSOE stronghold since Spain transitioned to democracy in the late 1970’s. National polling has put the PSOE ahead of rival parties since taking power last June meaning, in theory, that its Andalucian arm should be comfortably re-elected on December 2.

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Success is however not guaranteed. Diaz faces potential assaults on all fronts, with one problem coming from inside her own party.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is set to appear at two campaign rallies in Andalucia. One is set for November 18 in Chiclana in Cadiz Province and the other for Marbella in Malaga Province on November 25.

The number of planned visits contrasts with the Conservative Partido Popular (PP) leader Pablo Casado’s schedule, who has already been touring Andalucia extensively in support of candidate Juanma Moreno.

The PP and other opposition groups may choose to use the historic rivalry between Sanchez and Diaz to drive a wedge between them.

The two stood against each other for the leadership of the PSOE in 2016 and their relationship was said to be lukewarm at best. Party sources claim it has recently been on the mend.

Diaz’s saving grace may prove to be the ongoing jostling between the PP and the centrist Ciudadanos for the centre-right vote.

PP strategists no doubt fear a re-run of the snap election in Cataluña last December in which saw the party virtually wiped out by Albert Rivera’s Ciudadanos.

Diaz also has to contend with Podemos which sits to the PSOE’s left. Their candidate Teresa Rodriguez said the anti-austerity part would keep the debate on a local footing.

If her approach makes an impression on voters it could mean Podemos is able to chip away at the PSOE’s core support base, its left-wing voters.

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