Spain: Negotiations begin to postpone new elections

After elections that failed to yield a majority, Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his conservative rival Alberto Núñez Feijoa, whose party won the largest number of delegates, will begin talks on Monday to try to avoid new elections.

Defying all polls that showed him soundly defeated for months, Mr Sanchez managed to limit the right-wing opposition’s gains.

Mr. Fizo’s People’s Party (PP) eventually won 136 out of a total of 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies, while his only potential ally, the far-right Vox party, won 33. So their total seats are only 169, which is far from the absolute majority, which is 176.

In contrast, Mr Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) has 122 representatives and his hardline left-wing ally Sumar has 31.

– “No spread” –

In front of enthusiastic militants – chanting the famous anti-fascist slogan of the Civil War (1936–1939) “No Pasaran” (“They will not pass!”) – the prime minister boasted of his ability to continue to lead Spain.

He said, “The backward faction of the People’s Party and Vox has been defeated. Many of us want Spain to keep moving forward and it will happen.”

With its 153 delegates, the PSOE/SUMAR coalition would need the support of several regionalist formations such as ERC’s Catalan or Bildu’s Basque, a formation considered the successor of ETA’s political repertoire.

But he must also ensure the absence of Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont’s party, the Juntes per Catalunya (JAXCAT), whose leaders have already warned they will not help Mr Sanchez stay in power without compensation.

If all these conditions are met, Mr Sanchez could muster 172 delegates on his behalf, more than the leader of the PP, which would be enough for him during a second vote of ornamentation in parliament, where only a simple majority is needed.

Otherwise, Spain, which has already experienced four general elections between 2015 and 2019, would find itself in a political deadlock and condemned to a new vote.

Popular Party (PP) leader Alberto Nunez Feiju after the general election in Madrid, July 23, 2023 (AFP – Oscar del Pozo)

Mr. Fizoo, the narrow winner on paper of this election, claimed the right to form the government himself.

He said from the balcony of the party headquarters, that the PP had “won the election” and that “now we have an obligation to avoid the start of a period of uncertainty in Spain”.

– “It is not easy” –

“I will work to start negotiations with the forces represented in parliament to form a government”, he said, asking the Socialists not to “block” it.

“We’re going to do a lot of talking over the next few days and weeks” and “it won’t be easy”, he admitted.

With Vox without an absolute majority, Mr Fizzou wants to govern in a minority, but that would require the socialists to be absent during the vote of depositions in parliament. However, the socialists have already stated that they have no intention of doing so.

Mr. Sánchez had called this early election and campaigned for fear of the entry of the extreme right into government in the event of a PP victory, wishing to regain the initiative after the defeat of the left in local elections on 28 May.

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

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 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, almost half a century ago.

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