03:57 GMT +323 October 2019
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    Spain's Socialists Lose Seats in Andalusia as Right Rises Amid Migration Fears

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    The major loss of seats in Andalusia, which has been the dominant power in the autonomous region for 36 years, came as a blow to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's party.

    The party managed to get only 33 seats in the 109-member regional parliament of Andalusia, compared to 47 in 2015; the region had been called a “Socialist bastion” for 36 years, the Associated Press reported. Five parties now sit in the legislature, but none have the 55 seats needed to govern without forming a coalition.

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    “Despite winning the election it is a sad night for the Socialist Party,” regional leader Susana Diaz said. “There has been a real loss of ground for the Left. But the worst thing is that the extreme right, a phenomenon that has appeared in the rest of Europe, has arrived here,” she added, referring to the populist Vox party, which was able to obtain 12 seats. Vox, founded four years ago, had not previously held any seats in any legislative body in Spain. 

    The conservative People's Party and centre-right Citizens party now hold 26 seats and 21 seats respectively; Adelante Andalucia, a left-wing party, got 17 seats. This makes Vox the key to the creation of a conservative coalition in Spain's most populous region.

    “Now is the moment to say loud and clear who we are and that we have come to stay,” a Vox candidate told a crowd of supporters who chanted “Spain! Spain! Spain!”

    Diaz said she would call on other parties to “build a firewall against the extreme right in Spain,” referring to the success of Vox and other conservative parties pushing for a tougher stance on immigration. 

    According to CNBC, "Andalusia, which has one of Europe's highest unemployment rates, is the entry point for thousands of Africans who have been reaching Spain by sea in greater numbers as traffic on the other main route across the Mediterranean to Italy has curbed."

    France's Marine Le Pen congratulated Vox, tweeting: "Strong and warm congratulations to my friends from @Vox, who tonight in Spain scored a very meaningful result for such a young and dynamic movement."

    Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Sanchez has led a minority government since former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lost a no-confidence vote in June. There is speculation Sanchez may call for early elections if he cannot pass a national budget this year instead of serving out the full legislative term until 2020, the Associated Press reported.


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