Spain faces hung parliament ahead of election
Spain is holding another general election on Sunday, its fourth in four years, with the acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, taking on other leaders in a television debate.
Opinion polls suggest that no party is likely to win a majority and the far-right Vox is expected to emerge as the third-largest party.
Unrest in Catalonia has boosted Vox’s polling figures amid growing fears about national unity.
A “significant number” of police would be sent to Catalonia ahead of Sunday’s election, Sánchez said.
Polling suggests that Vox will win 40 of the 350 parliamentary seats. At the municipal level in Madrid, the populist Vox has joined a coalition with the Popular Party (PP) and Citizens party to run the capital city.
Former prime minister José María Aznar, who served two terms between 1996 and 2004, said: “My concern is that another indecisive result will further complicate the situation, leading to instability when we need a strong government to take necessary political and economic decisions.”
The Socialist leader Sánchez is ahead in polling but he may be forced to rely on the abstention in the parliament of the conservative PP to form pacts with minor regional parties.
At Monday’s televised debate, pundits declared that no clear winner emerged. Online newspaper polling suggested that the public was most impressed by anti-migrant Vox, which vehemently opposes Catalonian calls for independence.
Aznar, the former tax inspector and famously austere, centre-right prime minister, said he feared the far right’s rise.
“It will be more complicated to manage for the government and more complicated for the Popular Party to manage in the future,” Aznar said.
He survived an assassination attempt by the Basque terrorist group Eta in 1995 and was the first democratically elected right-wing leader since before Spain’s bloody civil war. Aznar is credited with making Spanish conservatism respectable again.
He said the rise of Vox was reflected in increasing political instability across the continent.
“The collapse and the crisis of the central parties in the democratic systems, the precedent is the 1930s, is very complicated and dangerous for us,” he told The Times.
Aznar called for the Catalan crisis to be confronted by dismantling separatist political, economic, cultural and media support networks and bolstering Spanish institutions “to protect the majority of people in Catalonia who want to be Spanish”.
He added: “There is no room for appeasement, there is no room for dialogue in the case of a coup d’état. The only destiny for the people responsible is to be defeated. Constitutional legality must prevail, it must be defended.”
Catalonia’s crisis is influencing the entire election campaign. Picture credit: Wikimedia