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    Scholars Explain What Spain Elections Results Mean for Country

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    Spain held a snap general election on Sunday, its third in four years. Though no party got enough votes to have a majority, the country's ruling Socialist party came out on top, while a right-wing party, Vox, will enter the Spanish Parliament for the first time since military dictator Franco's rule ended in the 1970s.

    Sputnik discussed what the results of the election mean for Spain with Dr Carlos Flores Juberías, a constitutional law professor and political analyst at the University of Valencia, and Marc Sanjaume, professor of political sciences at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and adviser at the Self-government Studies Institute with the Catalan Government.

    The Socialist Party

    Spain's socialists (PSOE) have won the election but still need a majority to govern. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's party got 29% — 123 seats in parliament — and will need to form a coalition to get the necessary 176 for a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

    "The Socialist party got the majority of seats, but it is still very far from an absolute majority in Parliament," Marc Sanjaume explained. "So I expect a few movements until the next month because at the end of May there's local and European elections and parties will not move to negotiations in order to keep their voters. After these elections I expect the Socialists to negotiate with the centre-right party — Ciudadanos (Citizens). If they get an agreement with Ciudadanos, as they negotiated in the past, they would could get a majority in Parliament, and Pedro Sánchez could get elected and he would get a more stable government."

    Professor Sanjaume added that there's also a possibility to negotiate with the left, but noted that Pedro Sánchez won't have enough seats even with Podemos (42 seats), so he would need broader negotiations with regional parties, like those in Catalonia:

    "So in the short-term I expect a minority government, in the long-term perhaps there would be a stable agreement with Ciudadanos. Ciudadanos are right now rejecting this agreement but this means probably a strategic move until the next election and then we'll see what happens," Mr. Sanjaume summed up.

    Meanwhile, Dr Carlos Flores Juberías believes that Pedro Sánchez is going to try to form a single-party government, discarding the proposal made by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on forming a coalition government:

    "In view of the election results, that seems the most sensible option: Podemos has fallen significantly in votes and seats, and each time seems a lesser threat to socialist hegemony in the left, so it does not seem a good idea to strengthen its position by encouraging its entry in government; the dependence of the Catalan and Basque nationalists has proved a heavy slab for the party, skilfully exploited by the right; and the alternative of a coalition government with centrist Ciudadanos has been emphatically ruled out by them throughout the campaign, while most Socialist party members discarded it from the very beginning.

    If this is the case, we would have a minority government, bound to negotiate every political decision of transcendence with the parties most likely to support it. Which would lead us back to the situation prior to the elections: paradoxically, the one which President Sánchez tried to put an end to by summoning voters to the polls."

    Vox Party Success

    Dr Flores Juberías told Sputnik that the biggest anomaly of the Spanish political system was the fact that Spain had no radical right-wing party in Parliament despite almost every European country having them by now:

    "Such an anomaly could be explained by at least four factors: the ideological hegemony of the left, passively assumed by a good part of the right; the existence of a force like the Popular Party, capable of grouping under its leadership nearly every conservative vote; the inability of the radical right to find a set of political demands able to mobilize at least a sizeable portion of the electorate; and the temporal proximity and the permanent demonization of the Francoist authoritarian regime, to whose memory the radical right has traditionally been closely attached."

    The political analyst noted that all these factors have now disappeared. Spain's conservatives, the Popular Party, failed to recover from the corruption scandal and only secured 16% of the vote, while the pro-independence movement in Catalonia also contributed to Vox's success, as the party is strongly against secession.

    In 2016 Vox got only 0.2% of the vote, but in December last year the far-right party won seats in a Spanish regional election in Andalusia and has now secured more than 10% of the vote or 24 seats:

    "Vox has managed to identify half a dozen demands — such as the defence of the unity and the vindication of Spanish national identity, the defence of the family and of Christian morality, the proposal of a minimal State with the suppression of the autonomous communities, the fight against illegal immigration, the repeal of the laws of historical memory or the fight against gender ideology- capable of attracting the support of an important part of the electorate, while it has unequivocally departed from any connivance with the Franco's past," Flores Juberías said.

    READ MORE: People's Party: Spain Bars Ex-Catalan Head From Running in EU Parliamentary Vote

    What Could Be the Consequences for Spain's Internal Politics?

    Professor Marc Sanjaume said that we need to wait and see how Vox will perform and noted that it's had a negative electoral consequence for right-wing parties:

    "The rightist voters have been divided in three parties Citizens (Ciudadanos), the Popular Party and Vox party, so this had a very negative effect from the point of view of the electoral result because there are many districts in the Spanish electoral system that in spite of being proportional there are not many seats to be distributed, so in these districts it's more a majoritarian system than a proportional one, so the existence of Vox has de facto divided the right-wing vote and it makes it more difficult to create a right-wing coalition right now."

    In his turn Dr Flores Juberías explained that:

    "The first consequence of the emergence of Vox — and, of course, that of Ciudadanos, already in 2015 — has been the fragmentation of the centre-right electorate into three blocs, which in turn, and with the inestimable help of the Spanish electoral system, which favours the most voted parties and punishes smaller ones, has resulted in a socialist majority in Congress and the Senate. Although the Popular Party, Citizens and Vox jointly add as many votes —eleven million- as the Socialist Party and Podemos, the centre-right bloc has obtained just 147 seats, with 165 for the left bloc."

    The Loser

    According to Juberías another result of the election is the end of the hegemony of the Popular Party as the Spanish centre-right has experienced its worst ever result, gaining 66 seats, down from 137 in 2016. In May 2018, a motion of no confidence forced Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to stand down after the party was accused of corruption:

    "Unless the Popular Party makes an intelligent reading of the results and begins a profound rethinking of its strategy, this could lead to an irremissible fracture of the right and even to the disappearance of the Popular Party, very little used — due to its condition of being a hegemonic party — to dispute its votes with other forces."

    It's certainly a big blow to the party that was in power from from 2011 to 2018.

    READ MORE: Spain's Center Citizens Party Rules Out Coalition Deal With Socialists

    Prospects for Catalonia

    The situation in Spain has been unstable after the independence referendum in Catalonia and  Professor Marc Sanjaume believes the result will have a double effect on regional politics in Catalonia:

    "First, this is probably the best result that secessionist parties could have expected, they got more seats than ever in a general election and the centre-left independence party Esquerra Republicana won the election, so they got a strong mandate to negotiate in Madrid. They got 22 seats (Esquerra Republicana — 15 and Junts per Catalunya party — 7, Sputnik), so this is a very good result for independence parties in general elections," the expert concluded.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    elections, VOX party, Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez, Catalonia, Spain
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