By Miguel Angel Benedicto, Secretary General of European Movement Spain.
The counting of votes last night might not have cleared the main question of who will govern Spain in the coming months or years, but it did decide several battles that had been raised during the election campaign. Furthermore it corrected a certain correlation of forces that will determine the strategies the four major national parties will pursue when attempting to secure the inauguration of a President that will allow them to form a new government.
Popular Party exceeds all expectations and reinforces position as largest party
The PP is the only party that has improved its position and gained extra seats this time compared to the last general election in December 2015. This time around it won 137 seats, which is up from the 123 it secured in the previous election, but still far from an absolute majority (176 seats). The PP gained an extra 700,000 votes and won an additional fourteen deputies.
The leader, Mariano Rajoy, could lead a government for this legislative period but would require a pact with Ciudadanos, and the nationalist parties (Basques and Canarians). Of all the political leaders, Rajoy is the only one that can really be considered the winner of the 26 July elections.
Podemos fails in its goal to give the ‘’sorpasso’’
Pablo Iglesias’s political party established a clear objective for this campaign; to beat the PSOE (Socialists) and to offer a self-styled ‘’government of change’’ to the electorate. This has been unsuccessful. Moreover, its strategy union with the United Left not only resulted in the failure to secure more deputies, but overall has been disaster. Podemos lost 1,200,000 votes but still managed to secure the same number of seats in Parliament as last time (71). It was a poor outcome for a party that aspired to attain power.
The PSOE maintains the second place, but records worst result in its party’s history.
The Socialists continue to play a decisive role in the future of Spain. A stable government will only pass with the approval of the PSOE, either in the form of abstention or support. However the leadership of Pedro Sanchez is today more challenged than ever before.
Ciudadanos loses seats to the PP with worst results
Albert Rivera’s party has shown that its electorate can be very volatile. The transfer of votes to the PP has added to the already-limited presence of the party in Spain as a whole. This has led to Rivera being viewed as less legitimate than before in an attempt to veto Rajoy as President.
New election do not dispel political uncertainty.
The results of 26 July corroborate a political architecture based on two distinct blocks between the right and the left, but ranging between 4 political parties. This should enable different government combinations of 2 or 3. The prospect of a third election, although possible, would be unlikely.