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New mayor of Mijas Ana Mata after the vote of no confidence on 2 November. Migue Fernández
A year of elections in Spain and Gibraltar
2023: a year in the news

A year of elections in Spain and Gibraltar

Politics ·

In May voters were asked to elect their local councillors; in July Spain held a general election; and in October Gibraltarians went to the polls

Neil Hesketh / Rachel Haynes

Malaga / Gibraltar

Friday, 29 December 2023

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2023 has been a year of elections in Spain and Gibraltar. Residents all over Spain were called to vote for new councillors at town halls in the municipal poll in May, the results of which sparked prime minister Pedro Sánchez to call a general election for July. Meanwhile the people of Gibraltar went to the polls in October.

Local elections

Municipal elections leave 89% of population under a PP mayor

Francisco de la Torre, in his eighties, voted mayor of Malaga for yet another term.
Francisco de la Torre, in his eighties, voted mayor of Malaga for yet another term. SUR

Municipal elections were held across Spain on 28 May as voters, including many foreign residents, chose the councillors they wanted to run their town halls for the next four years. The results saw a continuation of the previous swing towards the right, with more town halls falling into the hands of the conservative Partido Popular (PP), who gained 508 counillors in the 103 municipalities in Malaga province, while the PSOE won 439 seats in total.

Mijas, the last large Costa del Sol town to have a Socialist mayor after the elections, also passed into the hands of the PP following a successful vote of no confidence in November. The Partido Popular now governs 48 municipalities with a combined population of more than 1.5 million, 89% of the province's residents.

General election

Sánchez returns to power after controversial pacts

PM Pedro Sánchez and his team on election night in July.
PM Pedro Sánchez and his team on election night in July. SUR

Spooked by the swing to the right in May's local elections, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called an early general election. Gambling on it being better to go to the polls sooner rather than later, the date was set for July 23. It was Spain's first election in a summer holiday period and most observers expected a low turnout and a victory for the conservative PP.

In the end, even Sánchez was surprised when the PP and Vox vote combined failed to deliver an overall majority of MPs for the right. Sánchez set to work to weave a coalition of support to be sworn in as PM again from left wing and nationalist parties, including separatists in Catalonia. The price for support from Catalonia was an amnesty for those convicted of offences in the illegal referendum on independence in 2017, especially from the Junts party of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who is still in self-imposed exile in Belgium.

Horrified, the right rallied its support night after night at PSOE Socialist party offices and weekend after weekend in main city squares, against what it saw as a betrayal of Sánchez, who himself had always been against an amnesty.

With the separatist votes guaranteed (for now) by the promise of that future amnesty law, Sánchez's was successfully sworn in by the end of November and the newly restarted left-of-centre PSOE government in coalition with Sumar under Yolanda Díaz began work. But with no place for the Podemos party at the cabinet table; these split from Sumar in parliament as Christmas drew near.

Gibraltar

Picardo wins another term in government

Fabian Picardo celebrates the GSLP/Liberal Alliance's close election victory in Gibraltar.
Fabian Picardo celebrates the GSLP/Liberal Alliance's close election victory in Gibraltar. SUR

Gibraltar also held its general election this year. On 12 October Fabian Picardo's GSLP Liberal Alliance won by a narrow margin, gaining nine out of 17 seats in parliament with 49.9% of votes.

The GSD, led by Keith Azopardi, remains in opposition, with eight seats, after securing 48% of votes. This is Picardo's fourth term as chief minister of Gibraltar.

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