The Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has won the general election on Sunday in Spain by a clear margin. According to figures from the television station RTVE and the research institute Gad3, the PSOE missed on Sunday but with about 27.3 percent of the vote again clearly the absolute more. The fourth-largest economy in the eurozone threatens to continue the political blockade.
The fragmentation of the party and the growth of the right-wing populists of Vox make the situation in the new "Congreso de los Diputados" even more complicated than before, according to initial forecasts. Vox was able to gain about six percentage points compared to the election in April and got 16.3 percent. They would double the number of parliamentary seats to around 56 to 59.
The conservative People's Party PP improved according to the forecasts of the vote at the end of April. However, it remains at around 20.1 percent, well behind the Socialists only second largest fraction. A grand coalition of the two traditional parties PSOE and Partido Popular excluded the top candidates even before the election.
The election – the second this year and the fourth in four years – ran until the evening without major incidents. The turnout was lower by 18 clock than the last election in April: 56.86 percent of voters voted, said the electoral authority in Madrid. That's nearly four percentage points less than the same period in April (60.72 percent).
1. 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.
2. What role does the newly inflamed conflict over Catalonia play?
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.
3. 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.