Vulcan Insight

Voters choose left-wing continuity but Madrid faces deadlock

3 May 2019





Sunday’s third general election in just four years highlighted the dramatic change in fortune for Spain’s two main political parties. Leader of the Socialist Workers’ party (PSEO) and outgoing Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, looks set to return to power with his party emerging as the biggest winner with an additional 37 seats.

However, the outcome of the vote was starkly different for the centre-right party, Partido Popular (PP), which has dominated Spanish politics for the past two decades. The party suffered its worst defeat in its 30 year history, winning just under 17% of the vote. The entry of the far-right Vox party and an almost doubling in seats for centre-right Ciudadanos party will see pressure on PP leader Pablo Casado to step down.

While Sanchez was the ultimate winner in Sunday’s vote his party failed to get an overall majority and Madrid will once again play witness to weeks of negotiations in efforts to form a stable administration. In the immediate aftermath of the vote Sanchez’s Deputy Prime Minister announced her preference to lead a minority government. However, with the PSOE some 53 seats away from an absolute majority, it’s likely the party could seek to form an agreement with the left wing bloc including Podemos as well as a number of independents but that too falls short of a majority. An agreement between PSOE and Ciudadanos would solve the arithmetic problem but the latter has made its position clear that it seeks to overtake a debilitated PP as Spain’s main opposition to the centre-left.

While voters delivered a clear mandate for a PSOE-led government, the make-up and indeed timeline of such an administration is far from certain.