Pedro Sánchez calls for early elections after the PSOE electoral debacle

The President of the Spanish Government announced this Monday, May 29, the advancement of the general elections for next July 23. The elections, which were scheduled for the end of this year, are anticipated after the ruling center-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), suffered a setback in the municipal and regional votes on Sunday in which the right reaped a clear rise .

In a surprise move, after the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) suffered a heavy defeat in municipal and regional elections, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called early general elections.

The appointment will be next July 23, after they were scheduled for the end of this year.

The leader of the Moncloa He explained that after communicating the change to the head of state, King Felipe VI, the formal call for the elections will be published on Tuesday, May 30, with the dissolution of Parliament.

“As president of the Government and as secretary general of the PSOE, I assume the results firsthand and I believe it is necessary to give an answer and submit them to the popular will,” he said.

Before the debacle in local elections on Sunday, Sánchez had insisted that he would serve out his four-year term with the leftist government’s coalition partner, Unidas Podemos, and had indicated that elections would be held in December.

But the results of the municipal and regional votes quickly changed the situation for the leader of the Government.

“I have made this decision given the results of the elections held yesterday,” Sánchez admitted.

The debacle of the PSOE, harvest for the PP

The setback for the official bench was clear. And it is that heLocal and regional elections on Sunday saw Spain take a big swing to the right, turning the leading opposition movement, the conservative Popular Party (PP), into the country’s main political force.

The PSOE lost territorial power and saw the map turn blue, unlike the 2019 elections, when it was painted red after it won nine regional governments and 15 provincial capitals.

On this occasion, the PP, led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, won in seven of the 12 disputed regions and dominated in several previously won by the PSOE, including Valencia, Aragón and La Rioja.

As if that were not enough, it remains to be seen, even to what extent the PP will have to make alliances with the extreme right, represented in the Vox party, to form local and regional governments.

The PSOE, meanwhile, maintains the absolute majority in Castilla-La Mancha and has the possibility of governing in Asturias, Navarra.

At the municipal level, the Popular Party obtained 31.5% of the votes compared to 28.2% for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. This was a decrease of 1.2 percentage points for the PSOE, compared to 2019, and an increase of almost nine points for the PP, which benefited from the collapse of the centrist Ciudadanos party.

The right thus prevailed in cities such as Madrid, Seville and Valencia.

“That the Spanish speak out to define the political course of the country”

Although the a priori importance of these elections falls on the daily life of the inhabitants –since in Spain the regional governments have enormous power and autonomy to decide on matters such as the budget, education, health, housing and security– the appointment was more there when marking the political preferences of face to the general elections, something that Sánchez has highlighted in the new announcement.

Although the coalition government pulled Spain out of the Covid-19 pandemic, turned the economy into one of the fastest growing in the EU and introduced several groundbreaking laws, the results at the polls for both the Socialists and Unidas Podemos are seen as a dire assessment of the ruling left-wing coalition. The new left-wing Sumar group, headed by second vice president Yolanda Díaz, also failed to live up to expectations.

Sources from Moncloa, quoted by ‘RTVE’, point out that the most “worrying” is the “institutional debacle” that would represent the entry of Vox into more town halls and regional governments.

In this sense, they assure that Sánchez advances the elections to clarify preferences, prevent a major setback and avoid “six hellish months” with a PP that “does not understand that it has only won the municipal and regional elections and that there is a legitimate government” by front of Spain.

“This is unexpected (…) Sánchez is trying to short-circuit the rise of the PP as soon as possible,” explained Ignacio Jurado, a political scientist at the Carlos III University of Madrid.

Groups of citizens vote at a polling station during local elections, in Ronda, southern Spain, on May 28, 2023.
Groups of citizens vote at a polling station during local elections, in Ronda, southern Spain, on May 28, 2023. © Reuters/Jon Nazca

For her part, the political scientist Sandra León told AP that the Prime Minister also “avoids the deterioration of his party in two ways: the costs of the internal division in the Government until December and the division with the representatives of the PSOE in the regions ”.

A situation that forces the leftist parties, the PSOE, Unidas Podemos and Sumar, to quickly regroup, he remarked.

In his speech, the head of the Government pointed out that At this point in the legislature, the Government has carried out the major reforms promised and enlists to carry out a great responsibility of the geopolitical context that Europe is experiencing: the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on July 1st.

“All these reasons advise a clarification about the will of the Spaniards. A clarification on the policies that the National Government must apply and a clarification on the political forces that must lead this phase. There is only one infallible method to solve these doubts. That method is democracy (…) The best thing is that the Spanish men and women pronounce themselves without delay to define the political course of the countryhe concluded.

With AP and local media

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Written by Editor TLN

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