Spanish election sees socialists prevail; right-wing Vox gains foothold

Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) has won the country’s third election in four years - but not by the landslide its supporters had hoped for.

Pedro Sánchez | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

29 Apr 2019

As the outcome of the election was confirmed on Monday, the headlines went to the Vox Party, the first far-right party to win seats in the Spanish national parliament since 1982.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) came out on top in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, with 29 percent of the vote and 123 seats, an increase of 38 seats.

The Socialists will now be required to form a coalition, as a majority in the Spanish Parliament requires 176 seats.


The conservative Popular Party gained 16.7 percent of the vote and 66 seats, while the centre-right Ciudadanos party won 15.9 percent and 57 seats.

The left-wing Unidas Podemos garnered 14.3 percent and 42 seats, while the far-right Vox Party will enter the Spanish Parliament for the first time, having received 10.3 percent and 24 seats.

Turnout was 75.8 percent, up from 66.5 percent in the last election from two years ago.

“The future has won and the past has lost,” Sánchez told cheering supporters on Sunday from the Socialist Party headquarters in Madrid.

“We’ve sent the world a message. We can beat the reactionaries and the authoritarians” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

“We’ve sent the world a message. We can beat the reactionaries and the authoritarians,” he added.

Arguably, the big loser of the night was new Popular Party leader Pablo Casado whose conservative party lost half its vote share and half of its seats.

The surge of Vox, meanwhile, means the party will take its place in line with a growing number of far-right and populist parties gaining traction across Europe.

Its relative success is predicted to be replicated by other so-called populist and nationalist parties in the 23-26 May European elections.

Led by Santiago Abascal, a former member of the conservative PP, the Vox party has emerged in a matter of months with a vow to “make Spain great again”.

Vox said it wants to repeal laws against gender violence and opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Critics see it as a nationalist throwback to fascist dictator Franco.

The party, which mounted an ultra-nationalist campaign, is credited with succeeding in splintering the political right, but some say it failed to convince disillusioned workers traditionally voting for the left, many of whom said they were not so much voting for the Socialists but voting against Vox.

Soon after the results were announced on Sunday, Abascal told supporters that from now on, "24 deputies will defend the pride of being Spaniard" within the Parliament.

Reaction was swift, with a source at the European Council on Foreign Relations saying, “Spanish voters were asked a simple question in this election: Should we go right on policy and tough on Catalonia, or left on policy and soft on Catalonia? The answer is clear: Spaniards have rejected polarisation around national identity and gone for moderation and progressive policies.”

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