BARCELONA, SPAIN – JULY 23: A man votes in a historic building for the University of Barcelona on July 23, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. Voters in Spain go to the polls on July 23 to cast their ballots and elect Spain’s next government. (Photo by Javier Mostacero Carrera #1102751 #51C ED/Getty Images)
Javier Mustacero Carrera | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Spanish Conservative Party PP [Partido Popular] She is on her way to leading negotiations for a new government in Madrid, opinion polls have shown, suggesting this could be the end of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s socialist rule.
The People’s Party had between 145 and 150 seats, followed by the incumbent Socialist Party PSOE with between 113 and 118 seats, according to preliminary polls published by RTVE. An absolute majority requires 176 seats.
In the absence of a clear majority for either of the two major parties, the focus is now very much on who will be the third largest political force to emerge from Sunday’s election. It is not yet clear whether the far-right Vox party came in third or fourth, given that opinion polls pitted it against the left-leaning Somar party.
One of the biggest questions in this election is whether the People’s Party will formally join Vox – potentially the first time the far right has returned to power since Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975. Polls suggest the right-wing bloc could have a working majority.
PP and Vox previously joined forces to govern three regions of the country, but they may find working together on a national level more complicated.
Members of Alberto Figo’s conservative party raised concerns about Vox’s anti-LGBT rights and anti-immigration policy. Vox has also been criticized by mainstream politicians for opposing abortion rights and climate change denial, among other measures.
The early elections came as a result of the Socialist Party’s strong defeat in regional and municipal elections in May. General elections were scheduled for the end of this year.
Sunday’s vote was the first of its kind during the summer. The sweltering heat that has been felt in different parts of the country in recent weeks may have shed light on climate policy ahead of the vote.
Pedro Sanchez has served as Prime Minister of Spain since 2018. He has been criticized for pardoning politicians who support the independence of the region. During his tenure, there were also issues with the “Just Yes Means Yes” sexual consent law, which reduced the prison term of many convicted rapists through a loophole.
However, Sanchez’s economic record proved strong before the vote. Spain’s economy experienced a growth rate of above 5% in 2022 and is set to expand by about 1.5% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Inflation in Europe’s fourth-largest economy is also among the lowest. In June, Spain became the first economy to report an inflation rate of less than 2% across the region, down since the historic high levels recorded in 2022, according to the country’s economy ministry. However, political experts said Sunday’s vote was more focused on cultural and societal issues.