Elections in Spain: Sanchez springs a surprise and hopes to stay in power

Staring at all polls in legislative polls, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Sunday managed to limit the right-wing opposition’s gains and, against all odds, retain a chance to stay in power thanks to a coalition game.

After more than 99% of the votes were counted, her conservative rival Alberto Núñez Feijoa’s Popular Party (PP) won 136 seats out of a total of 350 in the Congress of Deputies and its only potential ally, the far-right Vox party, 33.

So the PP won 47 more seats in 2019 than in the previous elections, but far short of the 150 seats Mr. Feiju was aiming for. At the most, the PP and Vox, which have fallen behind since the last ballot, have a total of 169 seats, while an absolute majority is set at 176.

Mr Sanchez’s Socialist Party is credited with only 122 delegates and his hardline left-wing ally Sumar is credited with 31.

But Mr. Sanchez, five years in power, is paradoxically in a better position than his conservative rival and can hope to stay in power, as he is likely to enlist the support of Basque and Catalan parties, for whom Vox is a bugbear.

“The regressive faction of the People’s Party and Vox has been defeated,” he told socialist activists gathered outside his party’s headquarters. “There are many of us who want Spain to keep moving forward,” he added.

However, Mr. Fizzoo claimed victory. The PP “won the election”, from the balcony of the party headquarters he affirmed his intention to “form a government” and asked the socialists not to “block” such a government.

– “Genuine Surprise” –

“It’s a real surprise, the Socialist Party has put up a much better opposition than expected. There are two scenarios: Sanchez (in power) or new elections,” Antonio Barroso, an analyst with the Teneo firm, told AFP.

Polls taken over the past five days, the results of which were published when polling closed at 6:00 pm GMT as required by law, all predicted a landslide victory for the PP and even predicted an outright majority with Vox’s support.

Mr. Fizzou wants to rule as the winner of the election, but without an absolute majority, he would need the Socialists to be absent during the vote of deposition in parliament, which “won’t give it to them”, Mr. Barroso continues.

Because judging by the results, Mr. Sánchez appears to be able to gather 172 delegates to his name, more than the leader of the PP, and could therefore be brought back to power, provided the Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont’s party does not vote against him.

Otherwise, Spain, which has already experienced four general elections between 2015 and 2019, would find itself in a new state of political impasse and a new vote could be condemned.

– Poker Shot –

Addicted to poker moves, Mr. Sanchez maintains his chances of winning on his last bet.

Desiring to regain the initiative after the left’s defeat in local elections in late May, he called this early election and campaigned for fear of entering the government of Vox, who already leads with the PP in three of the country’s 17 regions, in order to unite voters on the left.

The strategy appears to be paying off, with turnout in November 2019 reaching nearly 70%, or 3.5 points higher than previous polling.

In the last year’s referendum, Mr. Feiju, the head of the PP, had missed his target.

The former president of Galicia (north-west) campaigned on the “repeal of Sanchezism”, a neologism referring to Mr Sánchez’s name, whom right-wingers accuse of crossing red lines, notably by pardoning Catalan separatists condemned for the 2017 secession attempt or by negotiating in parliament the support of the Basque party Bildu, the successor to ETA’s political showcase, to adopt its reforms.

At the PP’s headquarters in Madrid, Carmen Rodríguez de la Cruz expressed her dismay. “I didn’t expect it, I would have to stay with Sánchez for four more years,” he told AFP.

The election has generated unusual interest abroad due to the possibility of a PP/VOX coalition coming to power in a country considered a leader in rights for women or the LGBT+ community.

Such a scenario, which now seems unlikely, would mark the return of the far right to power in Spain for the first time since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975, nearly half a century ago.

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