PP and Vox fall short in Spanish election, opening door to Socialists
By Brian Reyes and Maria Jesus Corrales
Spain’s Socialist party saw strong backing in Sunday’s general election, coming second to the conservative Partido Popular but halting the swing to the right predicted by most polls in the run-up to the vote.
Pollsters had predicted the PP and the far-right party Vox would garner enough votes together to reach the absolute majority of 176 seats in the Congress in Madrid.
In the event, they fell short by seven seats.
That leaves the political landscape in Spain facing upheaval given the inconclusive outcome of Sunday’s vote, including potentially a hung parliament and another vote.
It could also open the way for the Socialists to try and patch together a coalition of parties on the left and smaller regional groupings – much as has been the case until now – to pool sufficient support to back Pedro Sanchez for another term as prime minister.
Neither of the core blocs on either side of the political spectrum had sufficient votes outright, but the socialists have greater options to reach agreements with small parties to support Mr Sanchez in an investiture vote, which is by simple majority on the second round.
If the Socialists succeed, it would be the first time in Spain’s modern history that the winning party did not form government.
But the PP will not sit by and watch.
Last night, PP leader Albert Nuñez Feijoo said he would call on other parties to back him as prime minister and the PP for government as the most voted party in the Congress.
As the count neared completion last night, the results signalled a period of uncertainty and political wrangling before a government is formed.
Under the Spanish process, in the coming days the King will hold meetings with political parties and will then ask one of them to form government.
He might follow tradition and ask the PP, as the winning party, to try and form government. But if it is Mr Sanchez who has the backing, he might ultimately win through.
The PP saw a rise in support on Sunday on a 70% turnout, increasing its parliamentary seats by 47 to reach 136 seats. But that fell well short of the expectations generated by pre-election polls.
Vox, conversely, saw its support fall, losing 19 seats to give it 33.
The two right wing parties together reached 169 seats, seven short of the 176 threshold.
The PSOE came second in the vote, increasing its seats by two to reach 122 seats.
Sumar, the new leftwing political party that succeeded Podemos, secured 31 seats in its first electoral outing.
The developments in Spain will be closely monitored here, where the prospect of a change to a PP/Vox government had raised fears that negotiations for a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar could be derailed and relations strained.
While the PP’s manifesto spoke of sovereignty, it also outlined commitment to protect border fluidity. Vox, conversely, maintained its well-known hardline stance on Gibraltar.
If Mr Sanchez succeeds in forming government, the hope here will be that treaty talks can resume as soon as possible.
But last night, the final outcome was far from clear.
In the Campo de Gibraltar region, the PP won the general election in all municipalities except for San Roque, where there is a virtual tie, and in the Socialist stronghold of Castellar and San Martín del Tesorillo.
The rest of the towns have supported the PP as the leading party for the government of Spain.
On the other hand, the far-right party Vox has suffered a significant setback.
The Socialists managed to hold their 2019 results and even slightly improve them.
With these results, the PP secures 4 out of its 9 seats in the Congress for the province of Cádiz, while the PSOE gets three seats and San Roque's Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix enters the lower chamber.
Breaking down the results by municipalities, in Algeciras, the PP obtained 35.71% of the votes, followed by the PSOE with 28.80%, and Vox with 22.25%.
Therefore, the PP increased its percentage by more than 17 percentage points compared to 2019, while the PSOE gained one point, and Vox decreased by a little over six percentage points.
In La Línea, the PP doubled its result compared to 2019, reaching over 35.58% of the votes, while the PSOE increased by one point, reaching 31.91%, and Vox also decreased from 23.8% to 19% of the votes.
In the case of San Roque, the result could not be closer: the PSOE obtained 34.53% of the votes, and the PP got 34.33%.
The difference is that the PP almost doubled its results from 2019 when it received barely 18% of the votes. Similar to Algeciras and La Línea, Vox dropped from 24% of the votes to 18.75%.
The same situation occurred in Los Barrios, where Vox lost more than six percentage points of its support from 2019, while the PP doubled its results, from 14.89% in 2019 to 33.87% in this 23rd of July.
The PSOE managed to withstand the "blue wave" and even increased by one point, going from 29% in 2019 to 30.93% in this election.
In Tarifa, the PP obtained 39% of the votes, and the PSOE received 32%. In 2019, the PP barely obtained 17.93% of the votes. Vox decreased in this municipality from 22.4% to 14%.