29th April 2019 - The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) led by Pedro Sánchez is set to remain in power after coming away with the most seats in Congress at yesterday’s general election.

But Sanchez will need to ally with other left-leaning parties if he wants to clinch an absolute majority and may need the help of Catalan separatists in order to govern.

Far-left Podemos could add another 43 seats to Sanchez’s 123 seats – which were up from only 85 in 2016 – and the Basque Nationalists, who would likely support Sánchez, had another six, leaving the Socialists just four seats shy from the absolute majority needed to form a government at the first attempt.

Failing that, he could still do so in a second vote as long as the main Catalan nationalist party, ERC, abstains.

Another option for PSOE was to ally themselves with Ciudadanos, which would garner them 180 seats, but such a coalition could prove problematic given their differences on certain core issues, their rivalry in regions such as Andalucia and Catalonia, especially in the former, and the fact that both parties’ leaders had already ruled out such a scenario.

According to remarks attributed to Narciso Michavila at pollster GAD 3, a coalition between PSOE and Podemos could see the former lose some of the voters that it had managed to attract away from its far-left rival.

Coalition talks may yet take at least a month to conclude, given that European, local and regional elections still lay ahead, on 26 May.

Pedro Sanchez emerges victorious in Spain's general election

Pedro Sanchez emerges victorious in Spain’s general election

To take note of, local and regional government spending accounts for the bulk of public sector outlays in Spain, hence the importance of those elections, both for the economy and the various political parties.

“The Socialists have won the general election,” Sanchez said as he addressed supporters at his party’s headquarters in Madrid.

“Social democracy has a great future because it has a great present and Spain is an example of that. We will form a pro-European government to strengthen and not weaken Europe,” he added.

At 75.75%, voter turnout yesterday was nine percentage points more than at the last general elections.

For many observers, the high voter turnout was a reaction by centre and left-wing voters to the rise in popularity of the far-right Vox party which obtained 24 seats in Congress, versus none in the latest elections.

Nevertheless, that was a weaker showing than some observers had been expecting. Ciudadanos, a more centrist conservative party, also performed very well when compared to the last general elections and almost surpassed the PP in the number of seats that it won in Congress (57 against 66, respectively).