Progressives salute defeat of far-right in Spain

The far-right party Vox was projected to receive more support in Sunday’s polls in Spain, which sent fears across the country of the return of fascist politics

July 24, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Yolanda Díaz, leader of the Sumar left-coalition speaks following the release of the results on the evening of Sunday July 23. Photo: Twitter

The Spanish elections have thrown up a hung parliament but the biggest story of Sunday’s polls was the blow to the far-right wing party Vox. A campaign marked by exclusionary rhetoric and attacks of the marginalized sections failed to gain traction as Vox won only 33 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies, 19 lesser than the last election in 2019.

It was not a great result for the opposition conservative People’s Party (PP) of Alberto Núñez Feijoo. The PP emerged as the single largest party with with 137 seats (+48) and 33.1% votes but fell well short of the simple majority of 176 seats. Feijoo will struggle to cobble together a coalition as many potential partners do not want to be associated with Vox.

Meanwhile, defying predictions, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) led by incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez managed to hold its constituencies and secured 121 seats (1+) with 31.7% votes. The Sumar platform—comprising the partners of the PSOE-led coalition government like Podemos and United Left (IU)—won 31 seats.

The Catalonian, Basque, and other regional groups have been confined to their bases but are likely to play a major role in government formation. Among them, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) has won seven seats (-6), Together for Catalonia Junts also secured seven seats (-1), the Basque Country Gather (EH Bildu) six seats (1+), the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV) five seats (1-), and the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) one seat. The elections saw a voter turnout of 70.4% (4.1% +).

The PP tightened its grip on the Senate by winning 120 seats (37+), while the PSOE won only 72 (+21). Elections were held for 208 seats out of the total 266 in the Senate.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had called for snap elections following the defeat of PSOE and its coalition partners in the regional and local body polls held in May 2023.

Sánchez can try to form a coalition with the parties in Sumar and regional parties like the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the Basque Country Gather (EH Bildu), and the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG). The support of the Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ/PNV) and Together for Catalonia Junts will also be crucial for PSOE. If the coalition talks are unsuccessful, the country will go for a fresh round of polls.

Spain, which was hit hard by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, has also been facing the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine in the form of inflation, similar to other European countries. In the run-up to the polls, the rating of the Sánchez-led government was low and PP and Vox were favored by many pollsters.

Enrique Santiago, leader of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) which is part of the United Left (IU) and Sumar, thanked the voters for stopping the reactionary wave.

“Spain is going to have a democratic and progressive government that will continue to work for the majority. There won’t be a right-wing and far-right government,” he said.

Yolanda Díaz, leader of the left-wing Sumar coalition, said following the results, “As we said in the campaign, we have to continue winning rights…More rights for women, more rights for LGBTQI people, more rights for workers.” She also affirmed that as of today she would engage in dialogue with all progressive and democratic forces in the country to build the government.