Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

Spain elections: Socialists lead, while far-right Vox surges

Nov. 1 2019 a worker moves portraits of Spanish socialist candidate Pedro Sanchez ahead of a campaign rally in Pamplo Nov. 1 2019 a worker moves portraits of Spanish socialist candidate Pedro Sanchez ahead of a campaign rally in Pamplo
Patty Aguilar | 11 November, 2019, 02:28

The Socialists were pegged at just over 27% and poised to win between 114 and 119 seats, down from 123 they secured in the 350-seat house in April, according to GAD3.

The far-right Vox was seen as the biggest gainer, with GAD3 forecasting it to more than double its representation from the 24 seats with which it debuted in parliament in April.

The election also comes less than a month after Spain's Supreme Court handed out lengthy jail sentences to nine Catalan independence leaders, triggering protests and violence on the streets of Catalonia.

More than 600 people were injured in the protests, which saw demonstrators torching barricades and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police. "We think that combining the courage of United We Can and the experience of the Socialist party we can convert our country into a reference point for social policies", Iglesias said Sunday.

During a TV election debate, PP leader Pablo Casado called for a "real government that will put order in Catalonia".

So-called independentist parties in Catalonia, which have a leftist bent despite their ambitions for sovereign statehood - scorned by the European Union, regardless of the Catalans' europhilia - have also performed poorly, and may not be well-disposed towards Sanchez in any case, given he had harsh words for them during the election campaign.

"Drastic solutions are needed", he said during his final campaign rally on Friday night in Madrid.

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Spain is facing a hung parliament again as neither right nor left blocs gained enough votes to form the majority.

The crowd responded by chanting "Torra to the dungeon".

Polling stations will close on Sunday evening and vote counting will start immediately.

But many polls predict Vox, headed by Santiago Abascal, may do even better this time and capitalize on the pro-Spain nationalist sentiment stirred by the Catalan conflict and in response to the caretaker Socialist government's exhumation of Franco's remains last month from his gargantuan mausoleum so that he could no longer be exalted by supporters in a public place. The Popular Party has 21 percent and Vox has 14 percent.

A coalition of PSOE (121), Unidas Podemos (26), Más Pais (3), Esquerra Republicana (13), Junts Per Cat (8), Bildu (5), CUP (2) would add up to 187 seats, which would allow them to form a majority government.

Spain has been caught in political paralysis since the election of December 2015 when Podemos and business-friendly Ciudadanos entered parliament. Sunday's election was called after the two parties failed to agree following the last election in April. "But these changes will not make it easier to form a government, so the political situation is likely to remain hard after this weekend's vote", he added.

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