The Dawn of Right-leaning Shift in Spain’s Election Begins

by Lucas Garcia
Spain's general election

Voting kicked off on Sunday in Spain, signaling the potential shift of yet another European Union member towards right-wing politics through a consequential general election.

Pedro Sánchez, the incumbent Prime Minister, brought about this early election in response to a significant defeat his Spanish Socialist Workers Party, allied with the far-left Unidas Podemos, suffered in the regional and local elections held in May. Sánchez has been leading the government since 2018.

Most pre-election surveys forecasted that the right-wing Popular Party, victors in the May elections, would outperform the Socialists, but to establish a government, it may require the backing of the hard-right Vox party.

The formation of such a coalition could potentially mark the reemergence of far-right forces in the Spanish government, a first since the country’s shift to democracy in the late 1970s, post the extended dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

The potential government led by PP-Vox would echo the recent political drift to the right witnessed in EU countries like Sweden, Finland, and Italy, a development causing anxiety in Germany and France, given its potential implications on EU’s immigration and climate policies.

Spain’s primary left-wing parties endorse EU participation. In terms of right-wing politics, the PP shares this pro-EU stance, but Vox does not.

The election has gained significance as it coincides with Spain’s term holding the EU’s rotating presidency, a period Sánchez had hoped to utilize to highlight his government’s progress. A defeat in this election could see the Popular Party assuming control of the EU presidency.

Sánchez, one of the first to cast his vote in Madrid, reflected on the election’s wider European significance, evidenced by the extensive foreign media coverage.

The incumbent leader didn’t disclose his optimism or lack thereof but expressed his “good vibrations”. The Socialists and a novel leftist alliance, Sumar, composed of 15 smaller parties, harbor hopes of achieving a surprise win.

Without any party likely to secure an outright majority, the electorate essentially faces a choice between another leftist coalition or an alliance of right and far-right forces.

The polling booths welcomed 37 million voters at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT), with the voting process set to conclude at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT). Near-final results are anticipated by midnight.

The election occurs during the peak summer season, a time when millions of voters might be vacationing away from their usual polling sites. However, requests for postal voting have surged, leading officials to predict a 70% voter turnout.

Given recent heatwaves, temperatures on polling day are projected to reach above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), rising between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius above the norm in many regions.

Sánchez’s government has navigated Spain through the COVID-19 crisis and an inflation-triggered economic recession, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

His reliance on peripheral parties to maintain his minority coalition, including separatist groups from Catalonia and the Basque Country, coupled with the passage of numerous liberal laws, might risk his position.

Right-wing parties hold Sánchez’s leadership in disdain, accusing him of betraying and destroying Spain. They pledge to repeal numerous laws instituted by him, laws that have had beneficial impacts on millions of citizens and thousands of businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Spain’s general election

What is the current political situation in Spain?

The current political situation in Spain involves a general election where voters are heading to the polls to elect their representatives. The election could potentially lead to a shift towards right-wing politics in the country.

Why did Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez call for an early election?

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for an early election after his Spanish Socialist Workers Party and its far-left partner, Unidas Podemos, faced a significant defeat in the local and regional elections held in May.

Which party is leading in the opinion polls for the current election?

Most opinion polls indicate that the right-wing Popular Party, which emerged victorious in the May vote, is ahead of the Socialists in the current election. However, the Popular Party might need the support of the extreme right Vox party to form a government.

How significant is the potential coalition between Popular Party and Vox?

A coalition between the Popular Party and Vox would mean the return of a far-right force to the Spanish government for the first time since the country transitioned to democracy in the late 1970s.

How might this election impact the European Union?

If a PP-Vox coalition comes into power, Spain would join the trend of some other EU countries, like Sweden, Finland, and Italy, moving towards right-leaning politics. This could have implications for EU immigration and climate policies, causing concern for countries like Germany and France.

What are the stances of the main parties on EU participation?

Spain’s two main leftist parties, including the Socialists, support EU participation. On the right, the Popular Party also endorses the EU, but Vox does not share the same stance.

How is voter turnout expected to be affected by the timing of the election?

The election takes place during the summer season, and while many voters may be away on vacation, postal voting requests have increased, and officials estimate a 70% voter turnout.

What challenges has Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government faced?

Sánchez’s government had to navigate Spain through the COVID-19 pandemic and an inflation-driven economic downturn, which was further impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, his reliance on fringe parties to maintain a minority coalition and the passage of liberal laws might pose challenges for his leadership.

What are the main goals of the opposing right-wing parties?

The right-wing parties, especially the Popular Party, strongly criticize Sánchez’s leadership, accusing him of betraying and ruining Spain. They promise to reverse many of the laws instituted during his tenure, some of which have benefited citizens and companies.

More about Spain’s general election

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Mark81 July 23, 2023 - 2:45 pm

EU watchin’ closely as spain’s politics headin’ right. germany and france worried ’bout immigration n’ climate policies. leftists pro-EU, right, not so much. summer votin’, postal votes way up, turnout ’bout 70% they say.

AlexG July 23, 2023 - 6:51 pm

wonder how this election affects spain’s future. a right-wing coalition could mean major changes. leftists gotta fight hard, maybe pullin’ off a surprise win. COVID, economy, and separatist issues loomin’ over sánchez.

Jen_87 July 23, 2023 - 7:21 pm

can’t believe far-right returnin’ to spain! EU’s gonna feel the impact, worried ’bout immigration. PP-Vox coalition sounds bad, undoing good laws. wonder if leftists got a shot at winnin’ this time!

Lily22 July 23, 2023 - 8:15 pm

sánchez tryna show progress durin’ EU presidency but elections could change that. weather’s brutal, but people gonna vote! right-wing parties really dislike sánchez, vowin’ to undo his laws, no good vibes there.

Sarah93 July 24, 2023 - 2:11 am

spain’s general election startin’ off! could be a swing to the right. prime minister sánchez called for it afta a bad defeat in the regional elections. popular party leadin’ in polls, but may need vox for a coalition. wow, a far-right return since 1970s!


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