The autonomous region of Andalucia, which houses Malaga and Seville, is the third most populous region of Spain. The area is heading to the polls on Sunday, December 2, for regional elections. The region of Andalucia has the biggest economy behind Catalunya and Madrid, and has been ruled by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party (PSOE) for over 40 years.
Gibraltar was a sticking point for Mr Sanchez, who said Spain would not sign Theresa May’s Brexit agreement over a “lack of clarity” on the oft-called “tax haven” of Gibraltar, which the UK has sovereignty over.
The election represents Mr Sanchez’s first true test since defeating Susana Diaz – who is standing in the Andaucia election – in the leadership race for the PSOE party.
Spanish newspaper El Pais held a poll of polls, claiming the Socialist party were in the lead with 40 seats, with the People’s Party (PP) in second with 25 seats.
The left-wing Forward Andalucia (AA) alliance is on 21 seats, Ciudadanos (C’s) on 20 and the far-right nationalist party Vox has just two seats.
The election is the first outside of the Catalonia region last year – but could give-way to a rise in right wing politics on a national level.
Conservatives and liberal politicians in the area have been hammering the Socialists for what they see as Mr Sanchez’s softer stance against Catalan separatists.
Since 1982, no far-right party has won a seat in the Spanish parliament or any of the 17 regional chambers.
But the PP are making gains in the so-called “rebel region” of Andalucia, that has been traditionally left wing, despite recent allegations of corruption that have been rife in regional government.
The PP’s Andalucia President, Juanma Moren, told El Confidencial that voting for newcomers Vox would make way for the ruling Socialist party.
He said: “Voting for Vox makes possible a socialist and communist government in Andalusia.”
All four main parties predict that Vox will enter the Andalusian parliament – but questions still remain as to how many seats it will win.
PP general leader, Pablo Casado gave a hint of what’s to come with a tough speech on the topic during a campaign rally in Andalusia.
Mr Casado said: “If immigrants come to Spain willing to enjoy social benefits without respecting our customs, our law, our constitution, equality between woman and man, Western customs … they’ve mistaken their country.
“There’s no genital mutilation here, we don’t kill rams at home here, and there’re no citizens’ safety problems here.”
The new poll suggests that Mrs Díaz will win the local election on Sunday – but hints she may need the backing of one of the three other main parties to remain in office.
Coalition rule has become the norm across Spain, with just one region — Galicia in the northwest — seeing one party win an election with an absolute majority.