Socialists Win In Spanish Election; Far-Right Party Gains Seats For First Time

Apr 29, 2019
Originally published on April 29, 2019 1:50 pm

Spain's center-left Socialist party, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, was victorious in Sunday's general election. The party took 29% of the vote, winning 123 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies.

"We made it happen," Sánchez told supporters in Madrid, according to The Guardian. "We've sent out the message that we don't want to regress or reverse. We want a country that looks forward and advances."

But in order to advance, the Socialists will have to work with smaller parties to reach the 176 seats required to form a coalition government. It's unclear what such a coalition might look like; even if it partnered with the far-left United We Can party, which won 42 seats, that left-wing alliance wouldn't have enough seats to control the government.

The main opposition party, the conservative People's Party, fared poorly. It won only 66 seats — 17% of the vote — less than half the number of seats it secured during the last election in 2016. According to The New York Times, it was the worst performance in its history.

"I don't think it's possible to exaggerate the scale of this debacle," Cristina Ares, a professor of politics at the University of Santiago de Compostela, told the Times.

While the mainstream conservative People's Party failed to thrive, the far-right Vox party picked up seats for the first time since Spain became a democracy just over 40 years ago. Vox took about 10% of the vote, or 24 seats.

Vox takes tough positions against immigration and feminism and opposes the Catalonian push for independence. Its ideology — fringe until recently — will now have official representation in the country's government.

The center-right Citizens party, which convinced some People's Party candidates to join its party during the campaign, won 57 seats. If the Socialist and Citizens parties joined forces, they would have a majority — but according to El País, Citizens leader Albert Rivera said during the campaign that he wouldn't make deals with Sánchez's government.

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