1. What are the results?
After counting more than 50 percent of the vote, the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is clearly ahead in the parliamentary elections. According to the electoral authority, the PSOE came to a good 29 percent, but missed the absolute majority as in the last election at the end of April significantly. The conservative People's Party PP follows in second place with around 20.5 percent and can grow again in comparison to the vote six months ago.
Vox's right-wing populists, who more than doubled their seats with around 14.7 percent of the vote and around 50 seats, are enjoying huge success. The relatively new party was drafted into parliament for the first time in April. A defeat had to accept the left alliance Unidas Podemos, which slipped from 14.3 to 10 percent. The liberal Ciudadanos experienced an absolute fiasco with 6.3 percent, which lost almost ten percentage points.
According to calculations, forming a government is virtually impossible. Only a grand coalition of PSOE and PP would have an absolute majority of at least 176 seats. Both factions had excluded that before the election. The only way for Sanchez to solve the blockade would be for the other parties to tolerate a minority government under his leadership – but that too is unlikely.
2. Why did the Spaniards vote again?
Because Pedro Sanchez, the party leader of the socialists, failed to form a government after winning the election in April. This was partly due to himself. Sanchez had coalition talks with the left-wing populist party Podemos burst, because one could not agree on the distribution of ministerial posts. Then he demanded of the other parties to tolerate a minority socialist government. The political competition was not ready for that. Finally, Sanchez called new elections.
3. What was the role of the recently rekindled conflict over Catalonia?
A big. The Catalonia question dominated the election campaign – all other issues were secondary. The street battles in Barcelona after the condemnation of the Catalan separatist leaders were a gift to the right. They took it with great eagerness and came up with an ideas contest on how to put the restituting Catalans in their place.
The furthest went the Vox boss. Santiago Abascal was in favor of banning the independence parties in Catalonia. He also wants to curtail the teaching of regional languages. In Catalonia, it evokes dark memories: the time of the Franco dictatorship.
Because the Catalonian conflict, every time it escalates, stirs up the blood of the Spanish patriots, Pedro Sanchez also believed he could score with hardship. Sanchez promised, among other things, the former Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont by warrant to Spain to recover. He also pleaded for reintroducing a law article banning referendums. Sanchez's proposals aimed to gather votes in the political center. Many, however, accused him of opportunism.
4. What happens after the election?
That's the big question. Much will depend on Sanchez. He would like to direct the country with a socialist minority government. Whether the other parties allow that is questionable. The alternative would be a coalition government. Sanchez has two options for this: together with Podemos and other left-wing parties – or in a grand coalition with the Partido Popular. Sanchez has excluded both options. The only one who signals a willingness to cooperate is Pablo Iglesias, head of the left-wing populist party Podemos.
If Sanchez fails to establish a functioning government, Spain is threatened with the continuation of the political blockade. And another election next year.