A poll that does not seem able to put an end to political instability. The Spaniards voted Sunday for the fourth legislative elections in four years in a climate weighed down by the Catalan crisis and the rise of the far right.
No clear majority according to the latest polls
Made several days before the polls, but broadcast at the closing of the polls at 19h GMT (20h Paris time), the latest polls predicted a victory of the head of the socialist government outgoing Pedro Sanchez with an average of nearly 120 deputies against 123 after the last election, in April.
Vox, the far-right party entered parliament in April with 24 seats, would become the third force with about 50 seats while conservatives of the Popular Party (PP) would have recovered from the worst result of their history (66 seats in April) and would have a little under 90 seats. According to these investigations, neither a left bloc (PSOE, radical left of Podemos and its dissident Mas Pais list) nor an alliance of the rights (PP, VOX and the liberals of Ciudadanos) would reach the absolute majority of 176 seats out of 350.
Significant results are expected around 21h GMT, 22h Paris time. At 18h, the participation was down by almost four points to 56.86%. Six months after the last elections, Pedro Sanchez asked the 37 million voters to give him a clear majority to end the political blockage that undermines the fourth economy of the euro area since 2015.
But if the results are faithful to the polls, it will have to content itself with the best of a fragile minority government obliged to negotiate support on a case by case basis in Parliament.
Pedro Sanchez does not hide that he prefers to rule alone in the minority rather than trying to reach an agreement with Podemos, with whom his negotiations failed after the April poll, because their differences are too great on the Catalan file.
The solution must therefore be an abstention from the Conservatives of the PP who have excluded to do so even if most analysts expect them to end up doing so, to avoid the anger of voters.
For Jose Ignacio Torreblanca of the European Council on Foreign Relations, Sanchez plans to obtain "the abstention of all at the last minute, at the risk of pushing us to the brink of infarction".
Vox surfed the Catalan crisis
A few weeks after the demonstrations escalated into violence following the conviction in mid-October of nine pro-independence leaders with long prison terms for the secessionist attempt in 2017, Catalonia dominated the campaign.
And Vox, whose leader Santiago Abascal advocates the banning of separatist parties, the suspension of the autonomy of Catalonia and the arrest of its independence president Quim Torra, was the beneficiary.
"I have always voted PP, but given the situation, I think we must use the strong way" with Catalonia and immigration, another central theme of the Vox campaign, said a sympathizer, Ana Escobedo.
"Hold on to the Franco regime"
Pedro Sanchez tried to mobilize the electorate of the left against the rise of Vox, that it presents as a return of the Francoism, denouncing the right which did not hesitate to ally with this party to take control of the Andalusia, the most populated region of Spain, the region of Madrid, the richest, and the town hall of the capital.
"Spain needs a progressive government to stand up against the Franco regime, the extremists and the radicals," he repeated relentlessly. In an area of Madrid, where Vox has exploited the malaise of a part of the population vis-a-vis a center welcoming young migrants, David Barcelo, a 25-year-old engineer, denounced the fact that "Vox says just what that people want to hear, using false data. "