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date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The new democratic system established in Spain in the late 1970s has supposed a breakaway from almost two centuries of discontinuity, instability, and fraud. This rupture has not been accidental: it has been favoured by an appropriate electoral system, the moderation of Spanish voters, and the decision of political elites to play potentially destabilizing cleavages down when the new democracy was still in its infancy and the possibility of new spells of instability could not be foreclosed. Social divides have been gradually incorporated as anchors of voting and, together with ideological self-placement, which has played a key role in Spanish elections, and short-term factors, government alternation has taken place in several occasions. In two cases, the 1982 and 2015 elections, electoral earthquakes or realignments did occur, but they have bolstered the legitimacy of the political system instead of menacing it. While the former opened up a different and long-lasting scenario, the consequences of the second one are yet to be devised.

Keywords: elections, Spain, cleavages, social divides, ideology, anchors of voting, electoral realignments

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