Sanchez looks to form left-wing govt in Spain
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist party has won the most seats in Sunday’s general election without winning an overall majority as the far right entered parliament for the first time since 1977.
Sanchez will need to try to build another coalition of several parties, possibly including Catalan separatists.
The populist, anti-feminist, anti-migrant Vox received over 10 per cent of the vote and around 20 seats, marking the return of the far right to national politics for the first time since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
But Vox failed to seduce disillusioned workers who traditionally voted for the left.
The idea of another far-right party in government sickened many Spanish voters.
Some voters said that they did not so much vote for the Socialists as a vote against Vox.
The Socialists secured 123 seats out of 350 with almost 29 per cent of the vote, marking a significant increase from than the 85 seats they secured in 2016.
“The Socialists have won the general election and with it, the future has won and the past has lost,” Sanchez told supporters at the party’s headquarters in Madrid.
The conservative Popular Party (PP) were humiliated with just 66 seats compared to 137 in the previous election.
Sanchez could seek an alliance with the anti-austerity Podemos and smaller Catalan separatist parties, as he did last June when he formed a fragile coalition. Despite lasting for less than a year, Sanchez’s administration passed several innovative environmental reforms.
A 165-seat Socialist-Podemos alliance in parliament would still leave the left-wing bloc short of a majority.
Catalan separatists are demanding an independence vote as the price for their support.
The centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, which has a fractious relationship with the PP, won 57 seats.
The financial markets and the European Commission would probably like to see the Socialists establish an overall majority with Ciudadanos, which describes itself as “liberal”, but a more likely partnership is with Podemos with Catalan and Basque parties.
“I hope Sanchez won’t reach an agreement with Ciudadanos, I want a left-wing government,” said 51-year-old Esther Lopez said at the Socialist headquarters.
But many Spaniards, who are still angry about Catalonia’s declaration of independence in late 2017, will resent Catalan representation.
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera during the election campaign condemned Sanchez for negotiating with Catalan separatist parties in a bid to end the secession crisis in the relatively affluent region.
Spain’s voters have little time to relax ahead of municipal, regional and European elections in late May.
Pedro Sanchez declares victory in Madrid. Spain has endured three general elections in four years. Picture credit: YouTube