Spain’s elections end without a clear majority, shifting the focus to coalition talks

Norman Ray
Norman Ray

Global Courant

BARCELONA, SPAIN – JULY 23: A man votes in the historic building of Universitat de Barcelona on July 23, 2023 in Barcelona, ​​Spain. Voters in Spain go to the polls on July 23 to cast their ballots and elect Spain’s next government. (Photo by Javier Mostacero Carrera#1102751#51C ED/Getty Images)

Javier Mostacero Carrera | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Spain’s election left it without a clear majority for either of the two major parties, shifting focus to coalition negotiations.

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Spain’s conservative party Partido Popular won 136 seats, followed by the incumbent socialist party PSOE with between 122 seats, RTVE reported. The far-right party Vox came third with 33 seats. 176 seats are required for an absolute majority.

One of the biggest questions of this election is whether PP will formally join forces with Vox – possibly the first time the far right has returned to power since Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975. PP and Vox have previously joined forces to govern three of the country’s regions, but may find it more complicated to work together at the national level.

But PP and Vox’s combined 169 seats still fall short of the 176 needed to form a coalition majority. PSOE could join forces with the left party Sumar and its 31 seats, but the combined 153 seats would also fall short.

Members of Alberto Feijóo’s conservative party have expressed concern about Vox’s anti-LGBT rights and anti-immigration policies. Vox has also been criticized by mainstream politicians for, among other things, opposing abortion rights and denying climate change.

The early elections followed the strong defeat of the socialist PSOE in regional and municipal polls in May. General elections were originally due to take place at the end of this year.

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The vote on Sunday was the first ever to take place during daylight saving time. The extreme heat felt in several parts of the country in recent weeks may have shed light on climate policy ahead of the vote.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has been Prime Minister of Spain since 2018. He was criticized for pardoning politicians who supported regional independence. During his tenure, there have also been problems with the “only yes is yes” sexual consent law, which shortened the prison terms of many convicted rapists through a loophole.

However, Sanchez’s economic record proved strong ahead of the vote. Spain’s economy had a growth rate of more than 5% in 2022 and is set to grow at about 1.5% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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Inflation in Europe’s fourth largest economy is also one of the lowest. In June, Spain became the first economy to report an inflation rate below 2% across the region, lower than historic highs in 2022, according to the country’s economy ministry. Political pundits have nevertheless said Sunday’s vote focused more on cultural and social issues.

Spain’s elections end without a clear majority, shifting the focus to coalition talks

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