After the victory of the Socialist Party in Spain

Right parties saw their expectations to govern frustrated.

The Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE, has been the clear winner of the general elections held in the Iberian country on Sunday, 28 April. 

The strong rise of the PSOE, both in votes and in deputies, will allow its maximum leader, Pedro Sanchez, to head the new Spanish Government.

The PSOE has also secured an absolute majority in the Senate, and the repetition of the Alliance Government in the important autonomous community of Valencia, traditional stronghold of the right-wing Popular Party, PP.

While the 123 deputies obtained by the PSOE are far from the 176 required to have the majority of parliament, Pedro Sanchez has several options that can allow him to govern with some comfort. The 42 deputies obtained by the left coalition Unidas Podemos, UP, plus the 36 elected by the various nationalist and regional parties, offer the PSOE different options to maintain the stability of its Government. That without counting on one, very difficult but not impossible, alliance with the party of the liberal right Ciudadanos, Cs, which increased its votes to reach 57 deputies.

While the financial and economic media put pressure on the leader of the PSOE in the direction of this last possibility (i.e. a PSOE-Cs Government), the leadership of the Socialist Party expressed its first intention to govern alone, with timely parliamentary support from other forces, but in any case they made it clear that they would not take a firm decision until after May 20, that’s to say after the European Parliament, municipal, provincial and autonomous parliamentary elections have taken place. 

Recomposition of the political map, new electoral sociology and high participation

The general elections seem to have finally certified the end of the bipartisan ruling in Spain since the so-called "transition" of 1977. From the center to the left a renewed PSOE, both in its leadership and in its proposals, with an important social sensibility, has managed to strengthen itself as a central force, thus limiting the expectations of de Unidas Podemos, located on its left, which, although it has suffered a serious setback, would maintain, with its 42 deputies, its capacity for parliamentary support and, therefore, for influencing the socio-economic policies of a PSOE Government.

From the center to the right, this is a time in which some confusion prevails: the historic decline of the conservative Popular Party, which only got 66 deputies, and the strong rise of the liberal Ciudadanos, Cs, with 57 parliamentarians, leaves in doubt who will finally get to lead "the opposition". The extreme right-wingrepresented by VOX, on the other hand, while entering the parliament with 24 deputies (10% of votes), has actually got well below both the expectations of Vox itself and the polls.

The "threat" of a possible extreme-right wave actually meant that both the PP and Cs radicalised their speeches and proposals to the maximum, trying to contend Vox and part of its supposed social base, and in that race to demonstrate who was more firm defending the "Deep and reactionary Spain" managed to frighten numerous moderate and center voters who seem to have opted for a more or less reliable PSOE, which does not propose changes that destabilize the prevailing system.

The aggressive bell of the three rightist parties, although it managed to activate the participation of the right-wing sectors in all their versions, in turn provoked the active mobilization of all the other political sectors, thus the high participation ended up with benefiting more the left in general and the Basque and Catalan parties in particular rather than the right. 

The participation figure was the second highest since 1977, with an increase of more than 5% compared to previous elections, while in the cases of Catalonia and the Basque Country the figures skyrocketed to reach almost 15% more than the previous elections.

The persistent theme of nationalities and the territorial model

Although traditionally the general elections tend to benefit the vote towards the state parties, and more in this case taking into account the strong right-left polarization at stake, the results in Catalonia and the Basque Country have reminded everyone of the persistence of the problem of the so-called historical nationalities, which demand greater sovereignty quotas and differentiated treatments.

In Catalonia, where a group of imprisoned and exiled political representatives, accused of rebellion, are currently under trial for unilaterally declaring the independence, Esquerra Republicana de Catalonia, ERC, got a historic victory, winning in the provinces of Tarragona and Llerida, while it was second in Barcelona, ​​very close to the winner in that province, the Catalan Socialist Party, affiliated to the PSOE. 

Added to the 15 deputies of ERC are 7 deputies from Junts Per Cataluna, JpCat, the party that currently head the regional government - the Generalitat. Together both sovereignty groups reached more than 40% of the popular vote. While the PSC got 12 deputies and Cs maintained its previous representation, the PP barely reached a deputy as well as the extreme right-wing Vox.

In the Basque case, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) won broadly in the three provinces of the Basque Autonomous Community, CAV, and got 6 deputies, one more than in the previous elections, while the pro-independence left coalition, EH Bildu, doubled its representation passing from 2 to 4 deputies, losing the fifthly merely 400 votes in the disputed Navarra.

For the first time, then, the PP didn’t get any deputy in the CAV while the results of Cs and Vox were marginal.

In total the Basque and Catalan nationalists scored an excellent result with 32 deputies, while, according to a pre-electoral pact, the representatives of ERC and EH-Bildu, with a total of 19 deputies, formed a joint parliamentary group, thus becoming the sixth force according to the number of deputies.

Waiting for May 20, but already with a socialist Government

The elections next 20 May will close the full picture of the political-institutional representation in Spain for the next four years at all levels, but certainly we can talk about a future government headed by the PSOE, still pending to define whether it will be alone or in alliance with other forces. 

We will still have to wait to know the results of the elections to the European Parliament, the provincial councils and regions in conflict, and the municipal ones, to see to what extent they adjust or vary the tendencies marked by the recent general elections. This would then enable us to make a deeper analysis of the repercussions both internally and at European level.