Spain, Sanchez calls early elections after victory of the right in local elections

Hard blow in Spain for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialists and their allies. The right, with the People’s Party (PP) and Vox, has achieved important victories in the administrative elections held in some of the main cities. PP and Vox won the majority in Madrid, which has always been a conservative fiefdom, but also in Valencia and Seville, which in the last legislature were controlled by progressive formations. In Barcelona, ​​however, the candidate of the independentists of Junts for Catalunya, Xavier Trias, defeated the outgoing left-wing mayor Ada Colau. After the defeat, Sánchez dissolved Parliament and called snap elections on July 23: the vote was to be in December.

Sánchez: “Even if the vote was local, the meaning of the result goes further”

“I’ll be brief and I’ll also try to be very clear,” said the Spanish prime minister, surprisingly announcing early elections. “I have just had a meeting with His Majesty the King, during which I communicated to the head of state the decision to convene a Council of Ministers this afternoon to dissolve the Courts and convene general elections”. “I took this decision in light of yesterday’s election results,” explained Sánchez. “Even if yesterday’s vote was regional and local, the significance of the result goes further – he added – and as prime minister and general secretary of the Socialist Party, I take it personally”. On the European presidency, Sánchez said that Spain “is about to assume a very important responsibility” and that yesterday’s outcome leads to “suggesting a clarification” on the will of the Spaniards, on the “policies that the government must apply” and “on the political forces that must lead this phase”.

Vox: “Snap elections are excellent news”

Sánchez’s decision to bring forward the next national elections in Spain is “excellent news”, because “the word will be given back to the Spaniards” after “four years of lies”, said the leader of the ultra-conservative Vox party, Santiago Abascal. “The sooner we manage to make Parliament look like Spanish society, the better it will be,” added Abascal at a press conference. “Today is not the day for needs or ultimatums”, he then said regarding any agreements with the centre-right after yesterday’s administrative and municipal elections, “it is the day to find out whether on the other side we will find respect, foresight, responsibility and patriotism,” he concluded.

Pp and Vox snatch at least 4 regions from the left

According to the official polls, which began late Sunday night, the right-wing forces won in at least 4 of the 12 autonomous communities in which votes were taken: in the Valencian Community, in Aragon and in the Balearic Islands, all territories with outgoing socialist governors. The same scenario is emerging in Extremadura: with the ballot practically completed (over 99%), the majority in the regional Parliament passes to the conservative bloc formed by the PP and Vox. In the event of a post-election agreement between these two formations, the government of the region will change hands. Center-left also defeated in La Rioja, where the popular will govern with an absolute majority. In Cantabria, however, the PP could administer with the help of Vox. Sánchez’s socialists retain control of the regional government in Asturias and could succeed, in the event of certain post-election combinations, in the Canaries and Navarra.

Absolute majority in Madrid for the popular Almeida

In Madrid, the outgoing mayor José Luis Martínez Almeida (Pp) won an absolute majority in the City Council (29 councilors), which will allow him to proceed with a second term without having to agree with Vox. Clear defeat for the centre-left parties: Más Madrid stops at 12 councillors, the Socialist Party at 11 and Unidas Podemos does not exceed the threshold of 5%.

The political scenario

At the Spanish electoral appointment, the socialists of Sánchez and his allies faced the judgment of the voters regarding the answers given in the last four years, from the pandemic to the inflationary crisis linked to the war in Ukraine. On the other hand, for the traditional opponents of the PP and the ultra-conservatives of Vox, the round represented a great opportunity to test the effective will of the Spaniards to propitiate the “change of political cycle” of which they claim to be promoters. Also considering that, for some time now, neither of the two formations has closed the door to the possibility of creating a post-electoral axis such as the one already experimented in some territories, for example in the region of Castile and León.