Image Credit: Vox España
Spain looks set for more months of political uncertainty after the recent elections failed to result in a majority for any one party. The elections were called after no party was able to form a government in the aftermath of the inconclusive April elections. However, any hopes of ending political deadlock with a clear majority government were quashed when the results arrived. Instead of a clear picture, the results delivered a political landscape that was lacking in clarity.
The governing centre-left Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) has remained as the leading party, winning 120 out of the 350 available seats in the Chamber of Deputies. However, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was still short of the majority he needed of 176 seats. Although a coalition deal was promptly reached with the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos, Sánchez is still 21 seats away from the majority he needs.
The rise of the far-right appears to be a trend of elections in most Western democracies in this Trumpian age, and this election was no different. The far-right Vox more than doubled its result from April’s elections. To put this in perspective, the 12 seats gained in last year’s Andalusian regional elections was the first time ever they had received representation in a regional parliament. Before April’s national elections, Vox had no representation at all at the Chamber of Deputies.
There were also gains for the centre-right People’s Party (PP), who increased their number of seats by 23, to a total of 89. Despite the increase by Vox and PP, they will be unable to replicate the right-leaning coalition government created in Andalusia at the national level as the third partner, the centrist Ciudadanos, were almost wiped out. Their number of seats reduced by an astounding amount to a mere 10. In the current political climate, where voters seem more and more susceptible to the far ends of the political spectrum, Ciudadanos’ endeavours have been overwhelmingly rejected by the electorate.
The Spanish Supreme Court’s recent decision to imprison nine Catalan separatist leaders for sedition over their role in the failed independence bid in 2017, ensured that Catalan independence was a prominent issue during the campaign. The well-documented violent protests in the aftermath of the ruling increased Vox’s hardline nationalist message, which could be seen as a cause of their further rise. While the party’s leader, Santiago Abascal Conde, believes it is as their ideals are in line with “what the spaniards think”.
Although, the Catalan separatist ERC-Sobiranistes had its seats reduced to 13, it may still play a key role in any attempts of government formation as it emerged as the fifth largest party.
Whilst a grand coalition of the two largest parties, PSOE and PP had been floated as a solution to end the deadlock, PSOE have now ruled out that option. In the absence of this, Spain may face another election in the following year.
Alongside the system of proportional representation, the rise of extremist views post-financial crisis and migrant crisis could be argued as primary reasons for creating this situation in Spanish politics, with a visible distrust of establishment politics. This rise in support for extremists have contributed to this being Spain’s fourth election in as many years.
After these elections, Spain has been left with vast political uncertainty, with a likely deadlock lasting months. If a government is able to be formed, it will face great difficulties in surviving the full term of four years with the present parliamentary arithmetic. In the aftermath of yet another round inconclusive elections, the main outcome from elections in the European Union’s fifth largest economy remains to be that is was not a favourable night for the socialists.