The Spain election results are now in and the current governing party retained the lion’s share of the votes. But while the win means government Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will hold power, without an outright majority he will be tasked with forming a coalition. The PSOE polled at 29 percent, and will need the help of either left-wing Podemos and regional parties, or the centre-right, to form a government. And for the first time in Spain since military rule ended in the 1970s, a far-right party will enter parliament.
What were the results?
The five main party results are as follow:
1. PSOE – 28.7 percent
2. Popular Party (PP) – 16.7 percent
3. Citizens-Party – 15.9 percent
4. Podemos – 14.3 percent
5. Vox – 10.3 percent
Vox, led by Santiago Abascal, is a newcomer on the Spanish political scene.
Opposed to multiculturalism, unrestricted migration, and what it calls “radical feminism”, the party raked in 24 seats.
Another shock twist in the election came when the previous ruling PP saw a total collapse in support.
PP was dumped from power in May 2018 in a no-confidence vote, leading to Mr Sanchez taking over as Prime Minister.
In its worst election ever, the PP won just 66 seats, down from 137 in the previous parliament.
Turnout was 75.8 percent, the biggest for several years and nine percent higher than the previous election in 2016.
What does this mean for Europe?
The result is a personal success for the Prime Minister, who increased his party’s share from 23 percent of the vote in 2016.
But it still leaves PSOE and Podemos 11 seats short of the necessary 176 for a majority in the 350-seat parliament.
Mr Sánchez must now look for support from the smaller parties or from the centre-right, but there is no easy solution.
Financial markets in the EU would ideally see PSOE and the Citizen’s Party form a coalition, but this looks unlikely.
An alliance with Citizens would give Mr Sanchez numbers but relations between the parties are bitter and fractious.
A left-wing coalition with Podemos is possible, but this would leave the government dependent on Catalan pro-independence parties, which opponents on the right see as toxic.
An alliance involving all the other regional parties, including the Basque separatist PNV, would leave him one seat short of a majority.
And the surge of Vox means the party will take its place in line with a growing number of far-right and populist parties gaining traction across Europe.
Led by Santiago Abascal, a former member of the conservative PP, the party has emerged in a matter of months with a vow to “make Spain great again”.
Vox wants to repeal laws against gender violence, and opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Critics see it as a nationalist throwback to fascist dictator Franco.
Vox promised to “make Spain great again” and succeeded in splintering the political right.
But it failed to seduce disillusioned workers traditionally voting for the left, many of whom said they weren’t so much voting for the Socialists, but voting against Vox.
Now, the country must lead its electorate towards municipal, regional and European elections in a month’s time, joining the list of European countries splintered by political divisions.