Spain’s governing Socialists won the country’s third election in four years. However, the centrist Socialist have fallen short of a majority.
In his victory speech, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the party’s big challenges were to fight inequality, advance co-existence and halt corruption.
“The future has won and the past has lost,” he told cheering supporters.
Media reports said:
Sánchez’s party polled 29%. The party will need the help of either left-wing Podemos and regional parties, or the centre right, to form a government.
During his time in office, Sánchez has raised the minimum wage, appointed a female-dominated cabinet and promised to bring in laws defining rape as sex without clear consent.
In a negative development, for the first time since military rule ended in Spain in the 1970s, Vox, a far-right party, is set to enter parliament. Vox had no seats in 2016. Vox opposes multiculturalism, unrestricted migration, and what it calls “radical feminism”.
The presence of Vox could fracture the right wing.
However, its meteoric rise is largely due to its ultra-nationalist rhetoric that advocates the “defense of the Spanish nation to the end” and a hard line against separatists in Catalonia.
The other big story of the election was the collapse in support for the rightist Popular Party (PP), which governed Spain until it was dumped from power in May 2018 in a no-confidence vote.
In its worst election ever, the PP won just 66 seats, down from 137 in the previous parliament. The PP’s future was uncertain on Sunday evening: the party lost more than half of its 137 MPs from 2016. 3.8 million voters gave up on the party that until last May was governing the country, under former leader Mariano Rajoy.
Turnout was 75.8%, the biggest for several years and 9% higher than the previous election in 2016.
After a decade of right wing rule
According to official results from all the votes counted, the Socialist party will have 122 seats in parliament, returning to a majority after more than a decade of PP rule.
After one of Spain’s most divisive and open-ended election in decades, the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) is the major winners of the 2019 elections.
Now, political alliances will mark the road ahead for months in order to form a government.
The left-wing parties United Podemos (UP) gained 42, and the three nationalist parties Catalunya Republican Left (ERC) 15, Together for Catalunya (JxCAT) 7 seats and Basque party (EH Bildu) with 4 seats.
“We would have liked a better result, but it is enough to achieve our two main objectives: to stop the right and the far-right and to build a left coalition government,” General Secretary of UP and legislator Pablo Iglesias said after the Spanish electoral body announced the official figures.
By mere mathematical conclusions, a left coalition could be formed between the PSOE and the left-wing parties, adding more than the 176 seats needed to form a government. However, things aren’t so clear as the right also has enough to entice the Socialists to form a government.
The PP won 66 seats, Citizens 57, and the Vox party 24 seats, making it the first party with such politics to sit in Spain’s parliament since 1982.
The 2019 process showed the demise of the conservative PP with 66 seats, meaning less than half of those won in the 2016 elections. Thus, a less alarmist reading of the figures can see that most of the Vox votes migrated from past PP voters, which now can clearly identify as far-right extremists.
At the same time, the left-wing UP lost seats, which Iglesias called out as due to internal issues that will have to be fixed looking forward to local elections.
Overall results show a divided Spain, where alliances and negotiating between political parties will have to happen in order to obtain a majority.
The election results could lead to months of negotiations in order to form a government in a bitterly divided parliament.
In the Senate, with 80.67 percent counted, the PSOE achieved 123 senators and the PP, 55. In third and fourth place would be ERC (10) and PNV (9).
After a tense campaign dominated by issues such as national identity and gender equality, the likelihood that any coalition deal will take weeks or months to be brokered will feed into a broader mood of political uncertainty across Europe.