Spain’s governing Socialists have claimed victory in the country’s third election in four years, but have fallen short of a majority. Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Workers’ party (PSOE) won 123 seats, the conservative People’s party (PP) 66, the centre-right Citizens party 57, the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos and its allies 42, and Vox 24.
Despite it being the country’s third general election in under four years, turnout was 75.8% – well up on the 66.5% two years ago. Sánchez hailed the result and the high turnout as proof of Spain’s desire to move forward and reject the reactionary policies of some of his rightwing opponents.“We made it happen,” he told supporters in Madrid, echoing the PSOE’s campaign slogan. “We’ve sent out the message that we don’t want to regress or reverse. We want a country that looks forwards and advances.” The Socialists won 123 seats while their former coalition partner, Podemos, won 42. Mr Sánchez could make up the numbers with smaller regional parties, including Basque nationalists, but he is likely to need the help of Catalan pro-independence parties, which withdrew their support for his government last month, forcing the election.
Pedro Sánchez, Socialists: “We have sent a clear and powerful message from the people of Spain to Europe and the world, that it is possible to beat reactionaries and authoritarianism and regression.”
Pablo Casado, PP: “The result has been very bad… because the centre-right vote has fragmented, that vote has become a very difficult vote to win.”
Albert Rivera, Ciudadanos: “We accept that others have won the election… sooner rather than later we will govern Spain.”
Pablo Iglesias, Podemos: “I have told [Sánchez]… of our willingness to work towards a coalition government.”
Sánchez called the election in February, after Catalan separatists joined rightwing parties in rejecting his 2019 budget. The PSOE has governed Spain since last June, when it used a no confidence vote to oust the corruption-ridden PP from office. But Sánchez’s minority government had struggled to advance its legislative agenda as it held only 84 of the 350 seats in congress. Vox then demonstrated its abilities as kingmaker by agreeing to support an Andalucían regional government between the PP and Citizens, which ended decades of PSOE control in the southern Spanish region. Vox’s uncompromising stance on Catalonia, which includes proposals to ban pro-independence parties, has helped it build momentum, as have its attacks on feminism and what it describes as political correctness. “No one thought that Trump would be president in the US, nor Bolsonaro in Brazil,” Sánchez said. “And people reckoned Brexit wouldn’t happen either. A vote for the PSOE is the difference between a Spain that looks towards the future and a Spain that slides back 40 years.”