By Juli Minoves-Triquell (University of La Verne)
The national elections in Andorra on April 2nd resulted in a majority for the center-right governing party (Figure 1). Demòcrates per Andorra (DA), of Prime Minister Xavier Espot. With a participation of 66.93% of the 29958 electorate, DA and its allies gathered 6262 votes at the national level which represented 32.66% of the vote (Figure 2). The elections to the Andorran parliament are divided in two: half of the parliament of 28 members is elected on a national basis with a proportional system (Circumscripció nacional) and half of the parliament is elected on a first-past-the-post basis for each of the seven territorial administrations or Parishes (Circumscripció parroquial). This generally implies that some national parties might compete seeking alliances with other parties who might have a local pedigree. DA and its local allies managed to have 5 MPs elected at the national level and 12 at the parish level, for an absolute majority of 17 in the new parliament.
Figure 1. Composition of the Parliament (Consell General) by MPs elected at the national level (“Circumscripció nacional”)and at the Parish level (“Circumscripció parroquial”, FPTP)
Six main parties were competing at the national level: (1) Democrates per Andorra (DA) (with local allies Ciutadans Compromesos, Acció Comunal d’Ordino and UN) who has held the government since 2011, (2) its coalition partner since 2019 and member of liberal international Liberals d’Andorra (LA), (3) the socialist international affiliated Partit Socialdemòcrata (PS) on the left (with a coalition of leftist parties comprising Progressistes SDP +), (4) the liberal Acció party (affiliated with European ALDE party) created after a bitter leadership primary vote and a split from LA in the fall of 2022, and two other new parties (5) Concordia, with a young technocratic and professional profile and (6) Andorra Endavant, a new opposition party critical of Andorra’s EU negotiations.
Figure 2. Electoral results
These results confirm that Andorra’s party system continues to be a “center-right predominant party system”, using Giovanni Sartori’s concept, in which DA replaced the Liberal party after the critical elections of 2009 and 2011 and has maintained its position as the Predominant Party. DA has now an absolute majority in parliament (17 MPs vs. 11 MPs in 2019) and does not need the Liberals to govern (although one MP for the Parish of Escaldes-Engordany is from the new liberal Acció party that split from LA).
This election has been hard for the PS which is left with only three members of parliament. Although it still gathered 21.05% of the vote at the national level vs. 32.66% for DA, it was unable to win any of the first-past-the-post Parish centered elections and most importantly one of the new parties, Concòrdia, managed to gather more votes at the national level: 21.43%. Concordia is now the party in opposition with more MPs, 3 at the national level, and 2 from the Parish based election, for a total of 5, since it won the 2 allocated for the Parish of St Julià de Lòria. Some commentators have related the Concordia surge to the surge of another technocratic progressive party in the early 90s, IDN which disappeared after 1997 but a major difference is that now Concordia is the main party of the opposition and, should it expand its dominance from Sant Julia to other parishes, and consolidate its appeal through regional (communal) elections and the next national elections, it could mark a transition to a new generation of politicians.
In terms of policy, the current negotiations of Andorra with the European Union for an association agreement have been an important object of debate during the electoral campaign. Monaco and San Marino are negotiating in parallel with the EU. DA, with an absolute majority, will most likely pursue these negotiations and finalize them. Concordia has been critical of them without opposing them as such, accusing the government of favoring a Monaco-style economic development model for Andorra that is detrimental for young people who are confronted with high real estate and cost of living prices and an unsustainable construction expansion. Andorra Endavant, which with 3 MPs and 16% of the vote at the national level will be a force to reckon with this coming legislative period, has taken a more isolationist position, opposing the agreement with the EU. This movement’s leader took anti-vaccine positions during the pandemic and has surprised for her strength at the ballot box. Some in the press have compared the rise of this party with the strength of some similar anti-establishment movements in Europe.
If the agreement that is finally negotiated with the EU by the DA government is put to a referendum, as has been promised, this issue will continue to dominate the headlines and will force parties to finalize their positions for or against. Although strong of its absolute majority given the weight of the territorial side of these elections where the winner takes all, DA would be wise to reach out early on this dossier to other political forces critical but not opposed on principle, and have a meaningful dialogue on what their red lines might be. After all, more than two thirds of the Andorran electorate have not voted for DA, and a loss in a referendum for a vital association agreement with the EU might carry heavy consequences for the party that has negotiated it. Most importantly it would bring uncertainty to Andorra’s future, a country with a high degree of dependance on neighborly relations.
Some major reflection will have to occur in historical parties such as LA which has only obtained 4.66% of the vote at the national level, and has been weakened by the split with the members of Acció. The PS, still strong but unable to prevent the impressive rise of alternative forces in the opposition, is in as well for an overhaul. Having governed between 2009 and 2011, it is still solid enough that it could be considered a “major” party according to Mack’s definition but the newcomers to the political arena have eroded its preeminence as an alternative to govern.
The participation of 66.95% was a bit below the 68.32% of the 2019 election. There were 29958 electors. 20050 voted; 19172 votes were valid and 537 votes were blank.
Photo source: https://www.elnacional.cat/es/politica/democrates-gana-elecciones-andorra-2023-concordia-da-sorpresa_1000845_102.html