Sunday’s election resulted in a victory for the conservative party Partido Popular, but the victory was not sufficient to break the unclear political situation.
Partido Popular made great advance and got 14 more seats than in the last election. PP was actually the only party which got more votes compared to 2015. They mainly took took votes from Ciudadanos which was reduced with 8 seats, while the Socialist Party PSOE fell by 5 seats.
It was predicted that Unidos Podemos forming a coalition between the left populist Podemos and the old Communist Party Isquierda Unida would become larger than PSOE. Instead they got as many mandates altogether as they had separately in the last election.
There are many reasons behind the result. One is that many voters obviously voted for the safe rather than for the uncertain, particularly when there is some uncertainty in terms of Brexit and the situation in Catalonia. Another reason may be the last debate before the election, more on that below.
Partido Popular (PP)
In the debate the acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy made no mistakes. He did much better than what was expected. PP has also brought Spain through an economic crisis with better results than many other European countries and the unemployment is declining.
Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE)
Pedro Sánchez had a golden opportunity in the debate between other leaders to unify the left side and take command. He failed miserably at this. Most leading political analysts (even within his own party) saw him as the debate’s loser. He has also been criticized for categorically opposing a cooperation with other parties except Ciudadanos.
Pablo Iglesias made it quite ok during the debate, but he didn’t distinguishing from the other parties. However they expected a large increase when they started a collaboration with Isquierda Unida. The result was the opposite – the progress stalled and were dubious to its association with the former Communist Party. The leader has been criticized for not having tried to initiate a left coalition during the last mandate period thus letting the right side grow. Besides, the party proved to have “skeletons in the closet” by affiliation and financial support from Venezuela.
Albert Rivera did a very good job during the debate so the poor election result is not due to this. However he probably made a serious misjudgment when he began collaborating with PSOE during the mandate last period. During this election he lost his right wing who massively went back to PP. As a liberal center-right party he was expected to rather ally with PP than PSOE which appears in the election results.
The voter turnout was 69.84%, which is a few percent lower than in the last election.
PP won the elections, but no party has got an absolute majority of minimum 176 seats. Therefore the situation is in many ways the same as before the election. What remains to be seen is whether any of the parties are able to overcome their objections to each other and create a viable coalition government. Otherwise, we can probably look forward to a third choice in about six months.