Spain’s socialists regaining ground as rising right-wing party bites off chunk of disgruntled voters

28 Apr, 2019

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez’ socialist party PSOE is set to come out on top in Sunday’s elections, but it’ll have to form a coalition in the fragmented parliament. Meanwhile, right-wing party Vox enters with over 20 seats.

With the Spanish political landscape increasingly fragmented, voters went to the polls on Sunday to take part in the country’s third general election in four years. Turnout was a high 75 percent, and all 350 seats in Spain’s Congress of Deputies were up for grabs.

With 84 percent of votes counted by Sunday evening, Sanchez’ decision to call a snap election in February looks to have paid off. His socialist PSOE party looks set to take 123 seats, or 29 percent of the vote. Previously, Sanchez led a minority government of 85 deputies, with the support of a handful of independence-favoring Catalonian parties.

Spain’s center-right People’s Party (PP) looks to have been eviscerated at the polls, netting only 65 seats, or 16 percent of the vote. The PP won 137 seats in the 2016 election, but were ousted from power following a no-confidence motion from Sánchez last year.

Populist centrist party Ciudadanos – which represents Catalonians who oppose the region’s independence movement – looks set to take 57 seats, or 15 percent of the vote. The party scored 32 seats in 2016.

Left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos lost out on Sunday, taking 35 seats, or 12 percent of the vote. The party, which sought to attract left-wing voters dissatisfied with the PSOE, has been rocked by infighting since it won 45 seats in 2016.

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The rise of right-wing contenders Vox has been watched closely by the world’s media. Strongly opposed to regional independence movements and proudly against the liberalism of Sánchez’s PSOE, Vox was supported by former Donald Trump strategist Steve Bannon. The hardline conservatives are on track to pick up 24 seats, or 10 percent of the vote. Although some media outlets hungry to depict the “rise of the far right” predicted a higher score, 10 percent is a significant jump from 2016, when the party won only 0.2 percent of the vote.

With the count continuing, these numbers could fluctuate. However, it is highly likely that the PSOE will look to form a coalition government as soon as possible.

The “most probable possibility is the socialist party supported by minority and regional parties,” Marc Sanjaume-Calvet, political science researcher at Universitat Pompeu Fabra told RT. Podemos could also lend their support to a left-wing coalition, as could the centrists of Ciudadanos.

Hopes for a right-wing coalition have been all but dashed. The PP, Ciudadanos, and Vox could band together, but would still come up more than 30 seats short of a majority, and could not dream of securing the support of any of the regional independence parties.


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