Tuesday, June 28

Mañueco could play with an advantage in the elections due to the ‘rally round the flag’ effect

A phenomenon that mixes the psychological and the political, and that could pave the way for Alfonso Fernández Manueco to be revalidated in the Government of Castilla y León. The regional president leaves with an advantage in the electoral advance that he called by surprise for February 13. The leader of the PP, who aspires to an absolute majority, could be driven by the effect rally ’round the flag, a phenomenon that tends to unite citizens around the leader in crisis contexts.

Since the pandemic started, all the autonomous governments that have gone to the polls have managed to revalidate their mandate and have emerged with a strengthened position. In Galicia, Basque Country Y Madrid regional presidents increased their advantage over their opponents, while in Catalonia The coalition of ERC and Junts was revalidated despite the change of balance and the irruption of the PSC at the expense of Ciudadanos.

This effect was coined in 1970 by the political scientist John Mueller, y define la rCitizens’ reaction to certain situations of uncertainty or crisis, in which an external enemy can be blamed, and in which a firm helm around which to close ranks is more necessary than ever. The term has its references in the automotive world. In car racing, when one of them had an accident, a vehicle with a yellow flag entered the scene, the safety car, and during that time the competition was paralyzed, and the rest of the applicants could not advance.

“What this political scientist said is that when there is an event of great magnitude, it isuspende this electoral competition and everyone gathers around the leader, and this is true that it works ”, he explains Jose Pablo Ferrándiz, founding partner and director of Elemental Research.

From 9/11 to the failed sorpasso of Podemos

This phenomenon has proven its effectiveness throughout different historical episodes in the context of international crisis. One of the most prominent cases is that of US President George Bush with the 9/11 attacks, an episode that is presented as a paradigmatic example of this effect.

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One day before twin tower bombingsOn September 10, 2001, Bush had the support of 51% of the population; five days later, after the terrorist attacks, this support increased to 86%. The caliber of the international crisis that engulfed the country led to this wave of support for the president in the face of the foreign enemy that continued to increase for weeks. On September 22, once war was declared by the US president, he received 90% positive evaluations.

In Spain, this phenomenon could have influenced in the 2016 elections: Podemos caressed the PSOE’s sorpasso, but three days before the elections took place, in an absolutely unexpected way, the victory of the ‘yes’ in the referendum on Brexit. A turn in international politics that could have harmed the purple party, as interpreted by Ferrándiz: “This episode introduced into Spanish politics the uncertainty about the consequences, and those who had decided to vote for new parties decided not to do so and opted for the conservative option of the traditional parties ”.

The 11M, otherwise

The sociologist, however, introduces determining nuances in this phenomenon, adding that it only “works as long as the management is perceived as done for the general interest”. This would explain, for example, why this effect did not take place in the case of the 2014 elections, which took place after the 11M attacks.

“After the Atocha attacks, if the management had been adequate, it would normal is that the electoral competition would have been suspended and the PP would have won the elections. The problem was that the management was not perceived as good, and a government was perceived trying to extend a lie until the elections ”, highlights the expert, referring to the reaction of the Executive of José María Aznar in which he pointed to ETA as responsible of the massacre.

“In moments of crisis, people become more conservative, he does not want more changes and prefers bad known than good to know “, details Ferrándiz, who slides that” this effect exists and may be linked to the effects of a pandemic. ” Although this phenomenon occurs in episodes of special significance, something that “could have been, and was, in the first moment of the pandemic,” Ferrándiz doubts that its consequences remain in force a year and a half after the outbreak of the health crisis. .

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“The The situation has dragged on for so long that it is doubtful whether this effect can be sustained both in time, especially when other governments are involved [autonómicos] with governance. The longer the health crisis drags on and the more elements come into play, the more difficult to know how it affects”.

In this sense, he points out that the rotunda victory for Isabel Díaz Ayuso could be influenced in some way by this phenomenon, although the final result was due to temporary factors: “In the case of Madrid it worked well, people perceived that Ayuso had not handled the crisis badly with the opening of bars, because the economy had more weight in the decision of the voters than health ”, he details.

The fact that all regional governments have been revalidated in the last four regional elections -except for Catalonia, where the coalition was maintained but the president changed color-, responds rather, according to Ferrándiz, to the call “ incumbence effect, whereby the leader who is already in the Government starts with a comparative advantage over the rest of the candidates, with “a series of advantages associated with the position, as they are the greater media visibility, in addition to the access to resources and sources of financing that the fact of being in the Government allows “. At this point, the sociologist attributes the direction of the vote more to the change-continuity axis: “If the management has not been negative, there are no incentives for change.”

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The political consultant Verónica Fumanal tIt also cools the relationship of the latest autonomic results with this effect, and considers them “Insufficient” to establish causality: “If this phenomenon were so decisive, it could explain all the electoral processes of the last two years, such as the US or Chilean elections, where there have been important changes “.

“I am not saying that it is not important, but it is not decisive and it is not explained as the main factor of the elections“, He continues, warning that the volatility of the electorate means that” the vote is increasingly guided by cyclical elements. “In the United States, Donald Trump came out and that’s precisely where the expression of ‘en the middle of a war you don’t change the commander-in-chief, because it is the place where this phenomenon of rally ‘round the flag”.

In this sense, it warns that the pandemic, after a year and a half, “no longer seems an exceptional thing, because we are getting used to it ”, and that is why“ there are other logics that prevail ”to this social phenomenon, such as the weight of the economy or political polarization.

He warns, that yes that in Castilla y León there are some conservative logic, with “a very high voting fidelity, because the population is older and more rural ”, which translates into a more conservative electoral behavior, with difficulties to change the direction of the vote. Far from the ‘flag effect’, Fumanal attributes the foreseeable victory of Mañueco, rather than a political effect, to other circumstantial elements, such as the disappearance of Ciudadanos. “It is going to happen that your main competitor, who split the conservative electorate in two, is going to be very weakened and all the vote is going to go to a political option ”.


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