BARCELONA, SPAIN – JULY 23: Men vote at the historic building of the University of Barcelona on July 23, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. Voters in Spain will head to the polls on July 23 to vote and elect Spain’s next government. (Photo Credit: Javier Mostacero Carrera #1102751#51C ED/Getty Images)
Javier Mostacello Carrera | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Spanish Conservative Party PP [Partido Popular] Exit polls suggest he is on track to lead negotiations to form a new government in Madrid, which could mark the end of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist rule.
According to the first exit polls released by RTVE, the PP secured 145-150 seats, followed by the incumbent Socialist Party PSOE with 113-118 seats. An absolute majority requires 176 seats.
With neither of the two major parties winning a clear majority, much of the focus will be on who will emerge as the third-largest political force in Sunday’s election. It is currently unclear whether the far-right Vox will come in third or fourth place, given that the far-right Vox is evenly matched with the left-leaning Sumar Party in exit polls.
One of the biggest questions in the election is whether PP will formally ally with Vox, and it could be the first time a far-right has returned to power since Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975. Exit polls suggest right-wing parties could win a de facto majority.
PP and Vox have so far worked together to govern three regions of the country, but working together at the national level can be more complicated.
Conservative lawmakers, led by Alberto Feijo, have expressed concern about Vox’s anti-LGBT rights and anti-immigration policies. Box has also been criticized by mainstream politicians for being against abortion rights and denying climate change, among others.
The dissolution general election was brought about by the Socialist Party PSOE’s crushing defeat in local government polls in May. A general election was originally scheduled for the end of this year.
Sunday’s vote was the first to take place during the summer. The unusually hot weather felt in various parts of the country in recent weeks may have shed light on climate policy ahead of the vote.
Pedro Sánchez, who has been Spain’s prime minister since 2018, has been criticized for pardoning politicians who support regional independence. During his tenure, there was also a problem with the “only yes means yes” sexual consent law, which used loopholes to shorten prison terms for many convicted rapists.
But Sanchez’s financial performance turned out to be strong before the vote. Spain’s economy is set to grow by more than 5% in 2022 and expand by around 1.5% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Europe’s fourth largest economy also has one of the lowest inflation rates. In June, Spain became the first economy to report regional inflation below 2%, the lowest since the historic high in 2022, according to the country’s economy ministry. Nonetheless, political experts said Sunday’s vote was more focused on cultural and social issues.