Conservatives win in Spain, but face struggle to form government

Madrid, Jul 23 (EFE).- The conservative Popular Party won the largest share of votes in Sunday’s Spanish general elections, but even an alliance with the far-right Vox will not be enough for a majority in parliament.

Based on nearly 100 percent of the vote, the PP will have 136 seats in the lower house of parliament, while Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists will have 122.

Vox will have 33 seats – a loss of 19 from the 2019 election – and the leftist Sumar, the junior partner in the current government, will have 31.

When the new parliament convenes next month, an absolute majority of 176 votes will be required to install a prime minister on the first ballot, though a simple majority will suffice on subsequent ballots.

“I assume responsibility to form a government in accord with the majority will of Spaniards and I ask that no one be tempted to obstruct Spain,” PP leader Alberto Nuñez Feijoo told supporters in Madrid after the results were released.

The party that receives the most votes should form the government, he said.

Sanchez, however, gave no indication that he was ready to throw in the towel after his party defied predictions of doom to pick up two seats.

“We who want Spain to advance are more, many more, and it will go on being that way,” the now-acting prime minister said at PSOE headquarters in Madrid, adding that he intends to continue governing the country.

While the PP gained an additional 47 seats compared with 2019, Nuñez Feijoo will have his work cut out trying to assemble a majority.

Together, the PP and Vox would have 169 seats, and he can also count on the support of the UPN, a conservative Navarrese regional party, and the Canarian Coalition, bringing the total to 171.

Sanchez can muster 172 votes from the PSOE, Sumar, the leftist Catalan nationalist ERC (7), the leftist Basque nationalist EH (6), the centrist Basque nationalist PNV (5) and the leftist Galician nationalist BNG (1).

Nuñez Feijoo could conceivably reach out to the PNV, but that party has already ruled out being part of a government including Vox, which advocates the elimination of regional autonomy.

By the same token, the PSOE might ask the centrist Catalan independence party JxCat (7 seats) to abstain on a second ballot in parliament, allowing Sanchez to prevail with his 172 votes.

Yet JxCat’s Miriam Nogueras threw cold water on that notion in her first remarks on the election results, vowing that the party will not help make Sanchez prime minister “in exchange for anything.”

Just over 70 percent of eligible voters took part in Sunday’s election, up from 66.23 percent in 2019, officials said.

The results appear to reflect a return to the traditional dominance of the PP and PSOE after the eruption in the middle of the previous decade of new formations such as the centrist Ciudadanos and the leftist Podemos.

Ciudadanos has disappeared from the electoral map, while what remains of Podemos, which at its peak had 71 seats in the lower house, has been absorbed into Sumar.


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