BARCELONA, SPAIN – JULY 23: A person votes in the historic building of the Universitat de Barcelona on July 23, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. Voters in Spain will head to the polls on July 23 to cast their ballots and elect Spain’s next government. (Photo by Javier Mostacero Carrera#1102751#51C ED/Getty Images)
Javier Mostacero Carrera | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Spain’s conservative party PP [Partido Popular] On track to lead talks to form a new government in Madrid, exit polls suggest it could be the end of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist rule.
According to early exit polls published by RTVE, the PP won between 145 and 150 seats, followed by the incumbent socialist party PSOE between 113 and 118 seats. 176 seats are required for an absolute majority.
With neither of the two major parties securing a clear majority, most of the attention is now on who will be the third largest political force to emerge from Sunday’s election. It is not yet clear whether the far-right party Vox came in third or fourth, as exit polls put it neck-and-neck with the left-leaning Summer Party.
One of the biggest questions from this election is whether the PP will formally join forces with Vox – possibly the first time the far-right has returned to power since the 1975 dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Exit polls suggest the right-wing bloc could potentially win a working majority.
The PP and Vox have previously joined forces to govern in three of the country’s regions, but working together at the national level could be more complicated.
Members of Alberto Feijóo’s conservative party have raised concerns about Vox’s anti-LGBT rights and anti-immigration policies. Vox has also been criticized by mainstream politicians for its opposition to abortion rights and its denial of climate change, among other initiatives.
The snap election was triggered by the resounding defeat of the socialist PSOE in regional and municipal elections in May. The general election was originally scheduled for later this year.
Sunday’s vote was the first of the summer. The extreme heat experienced in various parts of the country in recent weeks may have cast a spotlight on climate policy ahead of the vote.
Pedro Sánchez has served as the Prime Minister of Spain since 2018. He has been criticized for pardoning politicians who support regional independence. During his mandate, problems also arose with the “yes only means yes” sexual consent law, which reduced the prison time of many convicted rapists through a loophole.
However, Sanchez’s economic record appeared strong before the vote. According to the International Monetary Fund, Spain’s economy experienced a growth rate of more than 5 percent in 2022 and will grow by about 1.5 percent this year.
Inflation is also the lowest in Europe’s fourth largest economy. In June, Spain became the first economy across the region to report inflation below 2%, following historic highs recorded in 2022, according to the country’s economy ministry. Political experts, however, said that Sunday’s voting was more focused on cultural and social issues.