In the early parliamentary elections in Spain, the conservative lead candidate Alberto Nunez Feijoo of the Popular Party (Partido Popular, PP) claimed victory for himself. “As the candidate of the party that won the most seats, I consider it my duty to form a government,” said Feijoo on Monday night in Madrid. But the Social Democratic Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez can also hope to remain in power.
The PP won 136 seats in the new parliament in Sunday’s election, 47 more than last time. Sanchez’ PSOE only had 122 seats.
However, neither the right nor the left camp now has a majority. Even together with the right-wing populist Vox (33 seats) and the regional party UPN (1 seat), Feijoo would not have the required number of seats: It would be 170, the absolute majority is 176. The left-wing alliance Sumar, a possible partner of the PSOE, won 31 seats, so both parties together would achieve 153 seats – also too few. Feijoo and Sanchez would therefore be dependent on the support of other parties.
As a result, the fourth largest economy in the European Union, which currently holds the EU Council Presidency, could face a long stalemate. A “bloqueo”, a political blockade of the kind that occurred twice in a row after the 2015 and 2019 elections and required a second round of voting in each case, cannot be ruled out.
Right-wing extremists “beaten”
There are massive reservations in other parties, especially against Vox. The right-wing populists are also Eurosceptic and are banging on to cash in on prestige left-wing projects in the areas of social affairs, the protection of minorities and the environment, and to crack down on separatists.
Spain’s right and right-wing extremists were “beaten” in the elections, Sanchez stressed to supporters in Madrid. “The backward-looking bloc, which wanted to undo all the progress made in recent years, has failed.” There are “many more people who want Spain to move forward than those who want to go backwards,” said the PSOE leader.
Sanchez has governed since January 2018, in a minority government with Podemos since January 2020. The Left Party has since joined the Sumar Alliance.
Polls before the election had predicted a clear shift to the right in Spain, which has now failed to materialize. Political observers described the Socialists’ performance as a “real surprise”. There are now “two scenarios,” said Antonio Barroso from the consulting firm Teneo. Either “Sanchez stays in power or there are new elections”.
wa/haz (afp, rtr, dpa, rtve.es)