Fox News reports Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists (PSOE) won Spain’s national election on Sunday but fell short of a majority, and right-wing parties made major gains, including the far-right Vox party.
This is the fourth national ballot in as many years and the second in less than seven months, the left wing Socialists held on as the leading power in the national parliament. The conservative Popular Party (PP) came in second, and far-right Vox more than doubled its seats to become Spain’s third most-powerful party. A previous vote in April ended with no clear majority, and the Socialists failed to form a coalition government.
With 99.9% of the votes counted, The Socialist party won 120 of the 350 seats – 3 fewer than in April’s vote and still far from the absolute majority of 176 needed to form a government alone. The PP has 88 seats, up from 66, while Vox gained 52 seats – up from 24 in April.
Sunday’s outcome means there will be no immediate end to the stalemate between forces on the right and left in Spain, suggesting the country could go many more weeks or months without a new government. After failing to form a government in April, Mr Sánchez had hoped that calling another election would strengthen his party’s hand. Predictably the biggest loser was the centre-right party Ciudadanos – or “Citizens” winning only 10 seats compared to 57 in April.
The Vox Party led by 43-year old Santiago Abascal, had only just broken into parliament in the spring for the first time. The 52 seats gained by Vox make them third leading party in the Congress of Deputies, giving it much more leverage in forming a government and crafting legislation. Abascal speaks of “reconquering” Spain, and called his party’s success “the greatest political feat seen in Spain.” The party has vowed to be much tougher on both Catalan separatists and migrants.
“Just 11 months ago, we weren’t even in any regional legislature in Spain. Today we are the third-largest party in Spain and the party that has grown the most in votes and seats,” said Abascal, who promised to battle the “progressive dictatorship.”
Vox has pushed an anti-migrant message and attacks what it considers leftist ideology. It does not advocate a break from the EU in the very pro-EU spain.
Right-wing populist and anti-migrant leaders across Europe celebrated Vox’s success. Marine Le Pen, congratulated Abascal, saying his impressive work “is already bearing fruit after only a few years.”
Matteo Salvini leader of the right wing-wing League in Italy, anti-Isalm Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders both tweeted photos of themselves with Abascal and “congratulated” Vox and Abascal.
The mainstream conservative popular party managed to cover some lost ground from 66 seats in April to 88 on Sunday. The far-left United We Can, which had rejected an offer to help the Socialist form a left-wing government over the summer, fell behind with 35 seats.
Predictably the biggest loser was the centre-right party Ciudadanos – or Citizens winning only 10 seats compared to 57 in April. The leader Albert Rivera refused to help the Socialists form a government and tried to copy some of Vox’s hard line positions.
Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s after a near four decade right-wing dictatorship under the late Gen. Francisco Franco. Up until very recently, Spain used to take pride in claiming no far-right group had seats in Parliament, unlike the rest of Europe. It remains to be seen if different political parties can work towards a balance and stabilize the country.