Juanma Moreno, leader of the Andalusian Partido Popular, celebrates his victory with supporters in Seville on Sunday night. / EFE

Partido Popular celebrates its unexpected majority in Andalusian election

Analysts said Juanma Moreno's moderate policies, strong approval for his current rule and tactical voting secured the record performance

S. CONAGHAN / N. HESKETH MALAGA.

The Partido Popular (PP) won last Sunday's Andalusian election with a surprise overall majority, the first time the conservative party has taken over half the seats in the regional parliament. The leader of the party regionally and current Andalusian president, Juanma Moreno, will now be reelected by MPs to lead Spain's most populous region for the next four years without the need for support from any other party. He previously led a minority regional government in coalition with Ciudadanos.

The PP took 58 of the 109 seats in the Seville-based parliament, an increase of 32 on their result in 2018, the last time elections were held. Moreover, the conservatives took a 43 per cent share of the vote, up 23 points from the last election.

It was a bad night for the socialist PSOE, which has traditionally seen the Andalucía region as its power bastion. Seven provinces in the region flipped from voting for the PSOE as top party last time, giving the PP a clean sweep of all eight provinces.

Vox was the third most-voted party in the region, increasing its seats by two to 14. This was seen as a disappointing result for the hard-right party that had been hoping to hold the balance of power in a minority PP government as opinion polls had not predicted that Juanma Moreno's party would win a majority.

Left-wing Por Andalucía and Adelante Andalucía took five and two seats respectively, with a significant fall off in the vote for the radical anti-capitalist parties.

No seats for Ciudadanos

Meanwhile, the other big news of the night was the failure of centrist Ciudadanos to win a single seat in the next parliament. The party's regional president, Juan Marín, who has been vice-president of the coalition regional government, tearfully resigned party leadership as a result.

Of the 17 MPs corresponding to Malaga province in the 109 seat parliament - under a system of proportional representation - the PP increased its seats from four to ten; PSOE and Vox held onto four and two seats, respectively; while Por Andalucía gained just one.

Analysts said that voters had dramatically swung to Juanma Moreno's PP regionally for a combination of reasons. Moreno had led a low-key campaign focusing on the centre ground and moderate policies, and was perceived by voters as having done a good job in Andalucía in his first term. In addition, many voters on the centre-left who traditionally vote PSOE voted tactically to keep Vox out of government. Finally, many voters switched to the PP as a protest against the PSOE-led national government in Madrid.

Speaking on Sunday night in his victory speech outside the PP's regional headquarters in Seville, Malaga-born Moreno thanked voters for their support. "I know that I have to govern for everyone; even those who have not supported our political movement can sleep soundly," he said.

There were glum faces at the meeting of the national executive of the PSOE in Madrid on Monday to analyse the results and a reluctance to enter into self-criticism, at least in public. Their candidate in the region, Juan Espadas, had been chosen by Madrid and had failed to make an impression on voters.

Macarena Olona

If there was any suggestion that the Vox candidate, Macarena Olona, who is not from Andalucía, would turn her back on the region after her disappointing result, this was soon dispelled on election night itself.

Olona said she was pleased that left-wing parties had been kept out of power and promised to be in the Andalusian parliament acting as a strong "opposition" to the PP.

The outgoing regional leader of Ciudadanos, Juan Marín, said in his resignation speech, "I am not going to blame anybody for something I am responsible for," adding, "What I like the most about the PP overall majority is that Vox is outside the Junta de Andalucía regional government."

With its strong overall majority, the PP is planning to have the new Junta de Andalucía government sworn in by 25 July.

The Junta is responsible for many big spending services in the region, such as healthcare, schools and universities, the environment and much social care.