Elections in Spain finish with out a clear majority, plunging the nation into political limbo
The leader and candidate of the conservative Partido Popular (People’s Party) Alberto Nunez Feijoo.
Oscar Del Pozo | Afp | Getty Images
Election Sunday in Spain ended with no clear majority for either major party, throwing Europe’s fourth largest economy into political limbo.
After all the votes were counted, Spain’s conservative Partido Popular party secured 136 seats in Parliament, followed by the incumbent socialist party PSOE with 122 seats. Far-right party Vox took third place with 33 seats, while left-wing Sumar party got 31.
All parties fell short of the 176 seats required for an absolute majority.
In the run-up to the election, there was speculation that PP could join forces with Vox – potentially marking the far right’s first return to power since Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975. PP and Vox have already merged in some regions, but never at national level.
However, their combined 169 seats fall short of the 176 needed to form a coalition majority.
On the other hand, incumbent leader Pedro Sanchez’s PSOE could potentially work with Sumar, but again their 153 seats are not enough.
Alberto Feijóo, leader of the PP, took responsibility for forming the government as his party won the most seats.
“I will start a dialogue with the rest of the parties,” he said on Twitter. “I ask for responsibility so that Spain does not suffer blockades.” He added that he hoped other parties would not join forces and prevent him from forming a government.
Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s Prime Minister and leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE).
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
However, it is not that simple.
Sanchez’s ruling party did win seats in Sunday’s election, and he has experience negotiating deals with smaller parties to form a government.
“Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will have a chance to remain in power by negotiating a deal with the far-left Sumar and smaller parties, although a repeat of the elections is also a possibility,” said Antonio Barroso, deputy director of research at Teneo, in a note. He assigned a 45% chance to each scenario.
The background of the vote
Members of Feijóo’s conservative party had raised concerns about Vox’s anti-LGBT rights and anti-immigration policies. Vox had also been criticized by mainstream politicians for speaking out against abortion rights and denying climate change.
The decisive factor in the early elections was the clear defeat of the socialist PSOE in regional and municipal elections in May. Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled for the end of this year.
Sunday’s vote was the first ever to be held in summer, and the extreme heat that has been felt in various parts of the country in recent weeks has led to renewed focus on climate policy in the run-up to the vote.
Prime Minister Sánchez has been Prime Minister of Spain since 2018. He has been criticized for pardoning politicians who support regional independence, and also faced backlash after the “Only Yes Means Yes” sexual consent law loopholed the jail terms of many convicted rapists.
However, Sanchez’s economic record has proven strong. According to the International Monetary Fund, Spain’s economy grew by more than 5% in 2022 and is expected to grow by around 1.5% this year.
Inflation in the large European economy is also among the lowest in the region. In June, Spain became the first country in Europe to report an inflation rate below 2%, well below the historic highs of 2022.