Far right well-placed for Spanish kingmaker role
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Spain (PSOE) was forced to call the election after his loose coalition government failed to pass its budget in February.
His party has struggled to advance its legislative agenda as it holds only 84 of the 350 seats in the lower house.
Analysts are predicting two possible ruling blocs. One would have left-wing parties and regional nationalists and the other would contain traditional conservatives and the far-right Vox Party.
Sánchez’s competent but brief administration reinvigorated support for the PSOE after numerous electoral defeats to the right-wing People’s Party (PP). He admitted he could rule in a coalition with left-wing Podemos, headed by Pablo Iglesias.
The PSOE is expected to win the most seats but would need other parties to form an administration.
Podemos, an anti-austerity party, has been weakened by internal rivalries and is not the electoral force it was three years ago.
Sánchez said there was a “real risk of the right wing becoming one with the extreme right” if people failed to vote for the PSOE.
“No one thought that Trump would be president in the US, nor Bolsonaro in Brazil,” Sánchez tweeted.
“And people reckoned Brexit wouldn’t happen either. A vote for the PSOE is the difference between a Spain that looks towards the future and a Spain that slides back 40 years. No one should stay home on Sunday!”
PP, led by Pablo Casado, could also find itself in a position to form a coalition with the Citizens party (Ciudadanos), which is considered far right by many in Catalonia, where it was founded in 2006. The extremist, anti-migrant Vox seats might be needed too.
The Catalan independence crisis of late 2017 fuelled the emergence of Vox, which was a fringe party without the support to win national seats.
But last December Vox, led by Santiago Abascal, won 12 seats in the Andalucían regional election and formed a government with the PP and Citizens party, ending decades of PSOE control in the southern region.
The far-right party has fragmented the conservative vote and pushed the PP and Citizens further to the right to stop their supporters backing Abascal.
Vox proposes a ban on Catalan pro-independence parties and openly attacks feminism and “political correctness”.
The thorny issue of Catalan independence hangs over today’s vote. Picture credit: Wikimedia