The political board in Spain turned upside down this Sunday, May 28, and the first consequence has been the calling of general elections. anticipated for next July 23 by the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, who has assumed the results in first person.
The elections held last day had a municipal and regional scope, although the reading since the beginning of the campaign has been in a national key, a bet of the main opposition party, the Popular Party (PP), which was picked up by the Partido Sanchez Socialist.
Voted yesterday in more than 8,000 municipalities and in 12 of the 17 regions of the country. The PP obtained an absolute majority in 459 municipalities and won 23,401 councilors, while the Socialists were left with 429 and 20,778 representatives. Altogether they are a 3.4% more votes for the PP (31.53%) than for the socialists (28.11%).
The president of the Government, @sanchezcastejonhas communicated to the Head of State his decision to convene a Council of Ministers this afternoon, to dissolve the Cortes and proceed with the convening of general elections. The elections will be held on Sunday, July 23. pic.twitter.com/LU7WI7fEze
— The Moncloa (@desdelamoncloa) May 29, 2023
At the regional level, The PP has wrested almost all power from the Socialistsrecovering at least six of the 10 regions that they retained, although in five of them (Valencian Community, Cantabria, the Balearic Islands, Extremadura and Aragon) they will need to agree with the extreme right of Vox.
Early elections: keeping the initiative
The decision announced this morning by Pedro Sanchez has come by surprise, after the president had repeatedly maintained his intention to exhaust the legislaturewhich was to conclude in December, and have supported the good health of the government coalition with its partner United We Can.
One of the readings that have been repeated the most in recent hours is that one of the objectives pursued is neutralize internal opposition in his own party. This has been expressed, among others, by Aitor Esteban, spokesman for the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and one of Sanchez’s legislative supporters in the last five years.
Esteban has described the electoral call as “little justifiable” when the Spanish presidency of the EU will begin on July 1, also taking into account that the pre-campaign and electoral campaign will coincide with the negotiations for the constitution of the City Councils and the regional governments.
“It is evident that it is not a shared decision, can only be interpreted in one way, in an internal keyan internal calculation”, the leader concluded before the media.
It is also argued that Sanchez has managed to maintain the initiative and remove the focus from the victory of the Popular Party, achieving handle the story so that they immediately stop talking about their bad results.
The extreme right in all institutions
The truth is that between now and July it is very likely that the pacts between PP and Vox will multiply, since it is the only possibility that the former have of reaching power in at least five autonomies, in addition to numerous mayoralties.
Until now Vox had only entered the Government of Castilla y Leon, with a vice-presidency without functions that has been highly criticized, although it has supported different regional governments from outside the Executive, such as those of Madrid or Murcia.
From Vox, its national spokesman, Ignacio Garriga, assessed the results this morning, stating that “defeating the left is always good news”. For his part, the president of Vox himself, Santiago Abascal, has been happy with the new electoral call “because the Spanish are given their voice back.”
According to Abascal, the decision responds to a calculation based on the personal interest of the Prime Minister.
Ciudadanos disappears and goes back Podemos
The hardest blows have been taken by those known as ‘parties of change’, which were born after the outbreak of 15M in 2011 and which marked the end of bipartisanship in the country.
In the case of Ciudadanos, the coup seems definitive and its more than probable disappearance is predicted, after it has lost 2,400 councilors, 86% of those he owned. In addition, it was left without autonomous deputies in the 12 regions.
Patricia Guasp, the national spokesperson for this party, claimed on Monday that her project “is the most necessary for the country” and regretted that these elections have been considered a plebiscite on the Sanchez government.
However, Guasp did not want to assess the news about the electoral advance and has referred to subsequent appearances.
For his part, Podemos only revalidates its presence in one of the six governments of which it formed part until now, that of Navarra. The purple formation has been left out of the parliaments of Valencia, Madrid and the Canary Islands, and has not managed to enter the City Council of the country’s capital either.
Alberto Garzon, Minister of Consumption and federal coordinator of Izquierda Unida – a formation that has attended in alliance with Podemos in 10 of the 12 regions in contention – described the results as “very worrying” and constitute “a clear warning”. “The general elections are just around the corner, and there is not a minute to lose to regain confidence and win social majorities”, concluded even before the electoral advance announcement was made.
For her part, the general secretary of Podemos, Ione Belarra, warned this morning that there had been a “reactionary wave” that will lead to “cuts in public services, privatizations and setbacks in rights already achieved.”
In addition, Belarra announced that they are already working in a political space “that presents itself together with the elections”. “The progressive bloc is losing in the first part of the match, but we came out to win in the second part of this match,” he asserted.
Reconfiguration of the right and left blocks
Belarra’s words are part of the negotiations that have been taking place for months between Podemos and the Sumar platform, which is being promoted by the third vice president and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Diaz.
Diaz intends to bring together under the same umbrella different acronyms located to the left of the Socialist Party. Parties such as the Comunes of Ada Colau, who yesterday lost the mayoralty of Barcelona, have already joined; Compromis, who has not managed to retain the Consistory of Valencia; o Mas Pais, a national minority force, but with a significant presence in Madrid.
However, the differences that have so far prevented Sumar and Podemos from reaching an agreement seem to have to be resolved immediately. Parties now have only ten days to communicate if they participate in the coalition elections and another 20 days to present their electoral lists.
In the ideological spectrum of the right, the reconfiguration seems easier. With the disappearance of Ciudadanos, there is only one option left to achieve power: electoral arithmetic indicates that it is impossible for the Popular Party to reach an absolute majority, so it must necessarily have the support of Vox if it wants to access the nation’s Government .
What to expect from the next general elections?
The result of the next elections is expected to be uncertain. On the one hand there is an obvious change of electoral cycle in the country, as shown by the results that have been synchronized in a large part of the country, with the exception of territories that have particularities that differentiate them, such as the Basque Country or Catalonia.
However, the rules of the game are very different in municipal elections than in regional or national ones.
The main problem of the Popular Party is that during the last decade it has burned the bridges of understanding with many minority partiesespecially nationalists, who can be decisive for the governability of the country.
This being the case, the only support he can count on is the extreme right of Vox. And if the numbers achieved in the elections this Sunday were extrapolated, the sum of the two formations would remain far from the absolute majority (176 seats) necessary to achieve the investiture as president of the Government of the leader of the PP, Alberto Nunez Feijoo.
Precisely, Feijoo has been the last of the great political leaders to speak out about the new electoral appointment called by Sanchez. After 2 in the afternoon on Monday, he appeared before the media to thank “the majority of Spaniards who yesterday sent a very forceful message about the course they want for their country.”
Feijoo has congratulated himself because the immediate translation of the numbers is the call for general elections, something that he had been demanding for months. “Yesterday the citizens voted majority for my party, but sanchismo has not yet been repealed“, he said before asking the citizens to vote “to start a new course.”
Thus, he has criticized the five years of Government of the Socialist Party “with Podemos, with Bildu and the independentistas”, and considered that this cycle must “end forever”.