Spain’s Socialists win amid far-right breakthrough

Spain’s governing Socialists have won the country’s third election in four years, but are short of a majority.

Prime Minister (PM) Pedro Sánchez’s party polled 29 per cent and will need the help of either left-wing Podemos and regional parties, or the centre right, to form a government.

Far-right party Vox also won seats – the first time a significant far-right force has done so in decades.

Vox opposes multiculturalism, unrestricted migration, and what it calls “radical feminism”.

Analysts say support for Vox has been boosted by widespread anger at separatists in the province of Catalonia, who want independence from Spain. Vox fervently opposes any concessions to the secessionists.

The other big story of the election was the collapse in support for the conservative Popular Party (PP), which governed Spain until it was dumped from power in May 2018 in a no-confidence vote.

In its worst election ever, the PP won just 66 seats, down from 137 in the previous parliament.

Turnout was 75.8 per cent, the highest for several years and 9% more than the previous election in 2016.

In his victory speech, Mr Sánchez said the party’s big challenges were to fight inequality, advance co-existence and halt corruption.

“The future has won and the past has lost,” he told cheering supporters. During his time in office, he has raised the minimum wage, appointed a female-dominated cabinet and promised to strengthen rape laws, defining it as sex without clear consent.

After weeks of Spain’s resurgent far right hogging all the headlines, didn’t the centre-left just win a resounding victory?

Did Spaniards have a last-minute change of heart? What does this all mean?

Spain’s Socialist party members will certainly have the biggest smiles on their faces this morning. But landslide victory this was not.

The party improved massively on its last performance in national elections. It managed to take control of Spain’s upper house of parliament too, but still lacks a majority to govern.

The result is a personal success for the prime minister, who increased his party’s share from 23 per cent of the vote in 2016.

But it still leaves the Socialists and Podemos 11 seats short of the necessary 176 for a majority in the 350-seat parliament. –BBC

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