Elections in Spain: Pedro Sanchez is under threat from the right

Spain goes to the polls this Sunday to decide whether to renew Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s mandate, which all polls predict will bring the right wing back to power, and possibly the far right with it.

With 2024 European elections drawing near, last year’s rightward shift of the fourth-largest economy in the euro zone after Italy would be a thunderbolt for the European left.

This would be all the more symbolic as Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

All opinion polls published as of Monday showed victory for 61-year-old Alberto Núñez Feijoa’s People’s Party (PP, right) almost certain, but the fact that their publication was banned for five days before the election calls for caution.

Especially because so many people were still undecided at the start of the week (about one in five voters) and we don’t know how the date of this election – in the middle of summer, with very high temperatures – might affect participation.

The Spanish post office announced on Saturday that due to the holidays, nearly two and a half million voters out of some 37.5 million registered voters voted by post, a record number.

– alliance –

Despite everything, “it would be a huge surprise if the PP was not the winner, but whether it can form a government is something else,” Pedro Reira Sagrera, a professor and political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid, told AFP.

Partido Popular (PP) leader Alberto Nunez Feijoa during a meeting in La Coruña on July 21, 2023 (AFP – Miguel Riopa)

Mr. Fizoo aims to reach the magic number of 176 deputies, which would give him an absolute majority of the 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies. But not a single survey has drawn any such conclusion for PP.

That’s why they should resort to alliance. However, its only potential partner is Vox, a far-right, ultra-nationalist and ultra-conservative party that was born out of a split in the PP in 2013.

And that’s where the shoestring for Mr Feijoo, whose campaign has been hampered by the PP’s talks with Vox to hammer out a deal in several areas taken from the Left during the May 28 local elections, is on the way. Because the far-right party has not compromised on its priorities, which include rejecting the concept of gender-based violence, rejecting transgender people and climate change.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal warned the PP that the price of its support would be participation in the Feijue government, which would mark a far-right return to power nearly half a century after the end of the Franco dictatorship.

– “not ideal” –

Until the end, Mr. Fizzoo kept his intentions regarding Vox vague. “Two days before the election, a candidate should not say with whom he is going to form an alliance,” he said in an interview with the daily El Mundo on Friday. He added that a coalition government with Vox “is not ideal”.

Mr Sanchez, 51, made his fear of Vox coming to power his main election argument after the left’s defeat in local elections.

The outgoing prime minister, who has placed great emphasis on the European map, said during Wednesday’s televised debate that the PP/Vox coalition government would “not only be a blow to Spain” in terms of rights, “but also a serious blow to the European project”, denouncing “the tandem formed by the far-right and the far-right”, which he considers white hats and white hats.

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal during a meeting in Madrid, July 21, 2023 (AFP - THOMAS COEX)
Vox party leader Santiago Abascal during a meeting in Madrid, July 21, 2023 (AFP – THOMAS COEX)

For him, the only alternative to a PP/Vox government is to maintain power in the current left-wing coalition formed in 2020 between his Socialist Party and the radical left, which is no longer represented by Podemos.

An inconvenient partner of Mr. Sanchez for three years, Podemos was absorbed this year and replaced by SUMAR, a formation led by the outgoing labor minister, the communist and very pragmatic Yolanda Díaz.

Mr. Rira Sagrera, however, believes that the leftist coalition’s chances of staying in power are slim.

On the other hand, the prospect of an assembly without a majority, which would require a new vote in a few months, is “a significant risk”, he says.

Polling stations will open at 9am local time (7am GMT) and close at 8pm (6pm GMT). In the absence of exit polls, we will have to wait for the first results for trends.

Add a Comment