Legislature in Spain: a race for alliances to avoid new elections

Political negotiations began on Monday for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the day after legislative elections that put him in a better position than his conservative rival Alberto Nunez Feijoo. He can hope to stay in power if he gets the support of the Basque and Catalan parties.

Negotiations to try to avoid new elections in Spain. The day after a vote that failed to achieve a majority, Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, and his conservative rival Alberto Nunez Feijoo, whose party won the largest number of deputies, will begin negotiations on Monday, July 24.

By thwarting all the polls that had him largely beaten for months, Pedro Sanchez managed to limit the right-wing opposition’s progress.

Alberto Nunez Feijoo’s People’s Party (PP) finally won 136 seats out of a total of 350 in the Congress of Deputies, while the far-right party Vox, its only potential ally, won 33. They therefore collected only 169 seats, far from an absolute majority, which is 176.

Conversely, Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) has 122 deputies and Sumar, his radical left ally, 31.

“Do not pass”

In front of euphoric militants – shouting “No pasaran” (“They will not pass!”), the famous anti-fascist slogan of the civil war (1936-1939) – the prime minister asserted his ability to continue leading Spain.

“The backward bloc of the People’s Party and Vox has been defeated. Many more of us want Spain to keep moving forward, and it will,” he said.

With its 153 deputies, the PSOE/Sumar alliance will therefore need the support of several regionalist formations such as the Catalans in ERC or the Basques in Bildu, a formation considered to be the heir to ETA’s political showcase.

But they will also have to ensure Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party abstains, whose leaders have already warned they would not help Pedro Sanchez stay in power without compensation.

If all these conditions are met, Pedro Sanchez could then collect 172 deputies on his behalf, more than the leader of the PP, which would be enough for him during a second vote of the parliamentary vote, where only a simple majority is required.

Otherwise, Spain, which has already experienced four parliamentary elections between 2015 and 2019, would find itself in a situation of political deadlock and would be condemned to a new vote.

Conservative Feijoo claims victory

Alberto Nunez Feijoo, a narrow winner on paper, claimed the right to form a government himself.

The PP has “won the election” and “our obligation now is to avoid the opening of a period of uncertainty in Spain”, he said from the balcony of the party’s headquarters. “I will undertake to start a dialogue” with the forces represented in Parliament “to form a government”, he added, asking the Socialists not to “block” it. “We’re going to be talking a lot over the next few days and weeks,” and “it won’t be easy,” he admitted.

Without an absolute majority with Vox, Alberto Nunez Feijoo wants to govern in a minority, but for that he would need the abstention of the Social Democrats during a referendum vote in parliament. However, the Socialists have already made it clear that they have no intention of doing so.

Wanting to regain the initiative after the left’s collapse in the May 28 local elections, Pedro Sanchez had called this early election and campaigned for fear of the far right entering government in the event of a PP victory.

A strategy that seems to have borne fruit, with turnout reaching almost 70%, or 3.5 points more than in the last election in November 2019.


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