Spain’s Election Results: A Tight Race and Uncertain Future
In Spain’s recent national elections, the conservative People’s Party (PP) emerged as the winner with the most number of seats. However, they fell short of securing a coalition right-wing majority, leaving the country facing the possibility of far-right influence in the government for the first time since the end of General Franco’s dictatorship five decades ago.
Initially, opinion polls had predicted a clear victory for the opposition conservative PP over the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). However, as the votes were counted, it became evident that the race was much tighter than expected. With 100% of the votes tallied, the PP secured 136 seats, while the PSOE won 122. The far-right Vox party, seen as a potential coalition partner for the conservatives, obtained 33 seats, a significant decline from the 52 seats they previously held. The far-left Sumar alliance, allied with the PSOE, secured 31 seats, placing them in fourth position.
The results indicated that the composition of the next government was far from certain. The left and right blocs were nearly tied, with the PP and Vox securing 169 seats, and the PSOE and Sumar obtaining 153 seats. As a result, Spain faced the prospect of weeks of negotiations and horse-trading as the rival camps explored their options for forming a government.
Negotiations to form governments would begin after the new parliament convenes on August 17th. King Felipe VI would invite the PP’s leader, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, to attempt to secure the prime ministership. However, if Feijoo declines or fails to gain the necessary support, the king may turn to the current Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, with the same request. If no candidate can secure a majority within two months of the first vote, new elections would be called.
Sanchez, in his response to the election results, criticized the “reactionary” parties of the Spanish right and claimed victory in terms of more votes, seats, and a larger share of the vote than in the previous elections. On the other hand, Feijoo expressed his gratitude to supporters and stated his intention to form a government promptly to prevent uncertainty in Spain. He emphasized that as the candidate of the party with the most votes, he believed it was his duty to explore the possibility of governing based on the election results.
The election campaign had been framed as a stark choice between progress and reactionary conservatism. Sanchez and his PSOE party, along with the far-left Sumar alliance, presented themselves as defenders of a progressive agenda. Meanwhile, the PP and Vox campaigned on conservative principles. Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, congratulated Feijóo on his victory but expressed concerns that Sánchez could still hinder the formation of a new government, potentially aligning with communists, Catalan independence supporters, and terrorists.
During the final week of the campaign, the PP faced some challenges. Feijóo’s claims about the party’s track record on pensions were proven false, and he faced criticism for making a sexist comment about Yolanda Díaz, the leader of the Sumar alliance. Despite these setbacks, Feijóo urged Spaniards to vote for unity and emphasized his independence from external pressures, stating that he only answered to the Spanish people.
Economic concerns were at the forefront for many voters, with 31% citing it as the most significant issue. Unemployment and healthcare followed at 10% and 9%, respectively, while immigration, a favourite topic for Vox, was of importance to only 2% of those polled.
As Spain moves forward, the uncertainty surrounding the formation of a government leaves the country facing a critical period of negotiations and decisions. The potential for far-right influence and the desire for a progressive agenda make it vital for both blocs to engage in constructive dialogue to find common ground and pave the way for a stable and inclusive government that represents the interests of the Spanish people.