Local Election Defeat Prompts Spanish Government to Call for Early Elections
Spain announced snap elections on Monday after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s leftist coalition government suffered heavy losses in local elections.
Sanchez has said on numerous occasions that he wants to see a full term and that elections will be held in December, near the end of his rotating EU presidency, which begins on July 1.
It is unusual for a Spanish government to call a quick ballot after a poor showing in a regional vote, and its reasoning for bringing forward the national election date to July 23 was unclear.
“Although yesterday’s elections had a local and regional scope, the meaning of voting conveys a message that goes beyond that,” Sanchez said in a televised address. “I believe it is necessary to respond and submit our democratic mandate to the will of the people.”
Both the Sanchez-led Socialists and their smaller far-left ally Podemos lost ground on Sunday, while the mainstream conservative People’s Party and far-right Vox fared better than expected.
The findings suggest that the anti-immigrant, anti-secessionist People’s Party and Vox could unseat Sanchez and his Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) if they replicated this performance at the national parliamentary level.
On Sunday, the People’s Party could potentially take up to eight regional governments from the Socialists, depending on how well the opposition party negotiates alliances with Vox.
‘here to stay’
Vox leader Santiago Abascal said the party was “here to stay”.
“He was here to be decisive in building the needs of an alternative Spain,” he said in a speech early Monday, adding that he had not yet spoken to PP leader Alberto Nunez Figo.
The main setbacks for the socialists came in the regions of Valencia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands, as well as in one of their most important fiefdoms, the southwestern region of Extremadura.
In the densely populated Madrid region, the local leader of the People’s Party, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, won the majority.
In the larger cities of Valencia and Seville, where mayors were also elected, the count shifted in favor of the People’s Party, which also won an outright majority in urban areas of Madrid.
Barcelona was far from the big cities, where a pro-independence party won, though by such a narrow margin that it would need an agreement with the Socialists to unseat the incumbent mayor, Ada Colau.
Podemos lost ground throughout Spain, further weakening Sánchez’s position.
Sunday’s elections in 12 of Spain’s 17 regions showed a return to bipartisan dominance after a decade of greater participation by smaller parties such as Podemos and centrist Ciudadanos.
Vox was formed in 2013 and placed 3rd in the last national election.