Legislature in Spain: the right wing is slightly ahead of the socialists without obtaining an absolute majority

The People’s Party (on the right) came out on top in the Spanish general election on Sunday evening without obtaining an absolute majority. While Alberto Núñez Feijóo claimed his victory, the socialist prime minister believed that the right and far right had been “beaten”.

The People’s Party (PP, right-wing opposition) led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo came out on top on the evening of Sunday, July 23, according to almost final results in the general elections in Spain. But does not have a majority to form a government.

Alberto Núñez Feijóo claimed the victory. “As the candidate of the party with the most votes, I believe it is my duty” to try to “form a government”, he said outside the PP headquarters in Madrid.

After counting more than 99% of the vote, the PP had a total of 136 seats out of a total of 350 in the Congress of Deputies and the extreme right party Vox, its only potential ally, 33 seats.

PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijoo celebrates the results in Madrid, Sunday, July 23, 2023. © Juan Medina, Reuters

The PP therefore won 47 seats more than in the previous election, in 2019, but was far from the 150 seats that Alberto Núñez Feijóo aimed for. Above all, the PP and Vox, which have lost ground compared to the last vote, have collected only 169 mandates, while the absolute majority is set at 176. The Socialist Party of Pedro Sánchez is credited with only 122 deputies and Sumar, his radical left ally, with 31.

Sánchez is likely to keep his job

The loser in all the polls, outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Party has managed to limit the gains of the right-wing opposition and, against all odds, retains a chance to stay in power in extremis thanks to the alliance game.

Pedro Sánchez waves to supporters after voting in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, July 23, 2023. © Nacho Doce, Reuters

“The retrograde bloc of the Popular Party and Vox (far-right party) has been defeated,” Pedro Sánchez told enthusiastic socialist activists gathered outside the Socialist Party’s headquarters in central Madrid. “There are many more of us who want Spain to continue forward.”

In light of the results, Pedro Sánchez appears to be able to collect 172 deputies to his name, more than the leader of the PP, and could therefore be returned to power, provided that Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont’s party does not vote against him.

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

Pedro Sánchez, who is used to poker moves, therefore maintains the chances of succeeding with his last bet.

Wanting to regain the initiative after the left’s collapse in the municipal elections at the end of May, he called this early election and campaigned for fear of entering the Vox government, which already leads with the PP three regions out of the 17 in the country, to mobilize voters on the left. A strategy that seems to have paid off, with turnout reaching almost 70%, or 3.5 points more than the last vote, in November 2019.

A carefully scrutinized election in Europe

This election is “very important (…) for the world and for Europe”, had estimated the socialist Pedro Sánchez, in power for five years.

The study has attracted unusual interest abroad because of the possible takeover of power by an alliance between the mainstream right and Vox, an ultra-nationalist, ultra-conservative and Europhobic party that denies the existence of gender-based violence, criticizes “climate fanaticism” and is openly anti-LGBT+ and anti-abortion.

Such a scenario, which now seems highly unlikely, would have marked the return of the far right to power in Spain for the first time since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975, nearly half a century ago.


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