Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists have won snap elections, without the necessary majority to govern solo, in a fragmented political landscape marked by the far-right’s entry into Parliament. The results raise the spectre of another period of instability for Spain, with Mr. Sánchez depending on alliances with hostile rivals in an environment that has soured since Catalonia’s failed secession bid in 2017.
A significant development was the rise of the ultra-nationalist Vox party, which garnered just over 10% of the vote in a country that has had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Mr. Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) got 123 lawmakers out of 350, or close to 29% of votes — short of an absolute majority but much better than the 85 seats it got in 2016.
“The Socialists have won the general election and with it the future has won and the past has lost,” he told cheering supporters from the balcony of the party’s headquarters in Madrid, claiming victory late on Sunday.
The big loser was the conservative Popular Party (PP), which got 66 seats compared to 137 in the previous election.
Mr. Sánchez, who came to power in June after ousting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote, could seek to forge alliances with far-left Podemos and smaller groupings like Catalan separatist parties, as he had done over the past 10 months. He could also try to cosy up to centre-right Ciudadanos, which won 57 seats. Together, they would form an absolute majority but voters from both parties would likely frown on such a move.
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera built his campaign on disparaging Mr. Sánchez, criticising his attempts to negotiate with Catalan separatist parties in a bid to ease aw secession crisis in the northeastern region.
The crisis in Catalonia was precisely what fuelled Vox’s meteoric rise from the outer margins of politics to the national scene, after gaining nearly 11% of votes in December regional polls in southern Andalusia. Founded by Santiago Abascal, a disgruntled former PP member, it will now take 24 seats in the national Parliament.
Vox stood out with ultra-nationalist rhetoric advocating the “defence of the Spanish nation to the end” and a hard line against separatists.