The conservative right does not have a majority in the Spanish parliamentary elections, and the left-wing Sanchez may remain prime minister

The conservative right does not have a majority in the Spanish parliamentary elections, and the left-wing Sanchez may remain prime minister

Alberto Núñez Viejo (centre), leader of the right-wing Popular Party, claims victory in the election.AFP photo

This was evident from the provisional polling results Sunday night. This indicates a different result from the first polls announced at 8 p.m. In it, the right-wing bloc of the People’s Party and Fox were heading for a majority, but 99.3 percent of the votes had been counted, and this was clearly not going to happen. On this basis, the People’s Party will gain 136 seats, while Vox will drop from 52 to 33. All in all, there will be seven seats short of an absolute majority in Parliament.

The first opinion polls indicated a defeat for incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, but in any case it appears to be less significant than it did earlier in the evening. The PSOE Social Democratic Party even won seats, moving from 120 to 122.

Over the past five years, Sanchez has formed a coalition with the radical left Podemos, which has coalesced into Sumar’s new party. The Radical Left has 30 seats.

Tough negotiations

It is still not clear who will be the new Prime Minister of Spain. Feijóo claimed the first right to form a government around midnight. “No one will be tempted to lock down Spain again,” he said from the balcony of the People’s Party headquarters on Calle Genova in Madrid.

For incumbent Prime Minister Sanchez, it remains to be seen how his gamble of calling snap elections will pan out. The 51-year-old prime minister took this by surprise at the end of May after the Social Democrats suffered a heavy defeat in regional and local elections.

Sánchez celebrated the “failure” of the right-wing bloc, the lack of a majority, and the gain of seats by the Socialist Workers Party, as an electoral victory. “We have more votes and more seats than we did four years ago,” he said in an initial response. He told his supporters: “The looking bloc, which wanted to undo all the progress we’ve made over the past four years, has failed.”

Since PSOE has more potential allies in parliament than PP and Vox, it seems reasonable that Prime Minister Sanchez would run for a third term. In this case, he may have to seek the support of the Catalan Juntes, the separatist party of the fugitive independence leader Carles Puigdemont. If he does not do so, new elections are not ruled out.

It is likely that Spain will first face a period of difficult negotiations over a new alliance, led by 61-year-old Figo. With the support of the smaller parties, it might be possible to form a minority government between the People’s Party PP and Vox, the party of 47-year-old Santiago Abascal. This means that the far right will return to the Spanish government for the first time since the era of dictator Francisco Franco, who died in 1975. But it will be difficult to obtain support for such a mixture.

The current Spanish government has pursued a progressive policy in which the rights of homosexuals and other minorities have been promoted. Many people fear that these rights will be rolled back by a right-wing government in which Vox is involved. Vox also opposes climate measures and advocates a strict immigration policy.

In recent years, bans on the participation of the far-right in government have been broken in Europe. Last year, the “post-fascist” Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia won elections in Italy. Shortly thereafter, the center-right cabinet took office in Sweden with the support of Sweden’s far-right Democrats.

This year follows a government in Finland in which the centre-right is collaborating with the far-right party Finnenfeest. By doing so, Europe is making a shift to the right, which could be confirmed in the European elections next June.

Presidency of the European Union

A Spanish government led by Figo would have implications for the European Union. Spain currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Under Prime Minister Sanchez, Europe’s fourth-largest economy has emphatically profiled itself at the tables of Brussels conferences in recent years. Sanchez spent a lot of time with fellow Dutchman Mark Rutte.

The winner of the election, Feijóo, appears to be, in his “boring technocrat” words, less internationally oriented. For example, he hardly speaks English. “I am bilingual in the sense that I speak Galician, but my problem is English,” he said in an interview in early June.

At the same time, the son of a Galician construction superintendent campaigned hard for the European Union during the election campaign, and for supporting the Ukrainian people in the war with Russia. He also wants to help make Europe less dependent on China and the United States militarily and technologically.

If party leader Figo fails to form a government, new elections may be held. This also happened in 2019, when Spaniards went to the polls in April and November.

Greater turnout

Sunday’s turnout was 70.40 percent, almost four percentage points higher than in the previous election. More than 24.7 million voters cast their ballots. Up to 10 percent of those, 2.47 million voters who were not at home because of their holidays, cast their ballots by mail, a record high.

Incumbent Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez (PSOE) celebrates the ballot box result with his supporters.  ANP/EPA image

Incumbent Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez (PSOE) celebrates the ballot box result with his supporters.ANP/EPA image

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