PSOE leader, Pedro Sánchez, outside the Socialist party HQ in Madrid on Sunday night.
Pedro Sánchez triumphs again but it's not enough to end the deadlock

Pedro Sánchez triumphs again but it's not enough to end the deadlock

Albert Rivera's Ciudadanos suffers humiliating fall in support that leads to his resignation and hard-right Vox surges into third place behind an improved PP


Friday, 15 November 2019, 14:48

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Last Sunday's general election failed to deliver a majority for any one party, ending faint hopes of an end to the deadlock of a hung parliament that had forced the country back to the polls after the last vote in April.

The Socialist PSOE won the day while centrist Ciudadanos saw its vote collapse. There was also a big rise in support for hard-right Vox, however the increase in share for smaller parties makes an easy majority even harder than before.

As last April, the PSOE was the biggest party on Sunday, gaining 120 seats in the 360-seat Congreso, down from 123 last time. This was 28% of the total vote for acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's party, with an overall voter turnout of just under 70 per cent, down slightly on April. The left-wing parties generally did worse than in April, with Unidas Podemos (UP), led by Pablo Iglesias, also dropping, from 42 to 35 MPs.

The main opposition party, the conservative Partido Popular (PP), improved on its poor April performance, rising from 66 to 89 this time round, (20.82% of the electorate).

However, the big stories of election night were the huge fall in the vote for centrist Ciudadanos (Cs) and the surge of hard-right Vox.

Shift away from the centre

Albert Rivera's Cs was left with 10 MPs after its April peak of 57, forcing the resignation of Rivera on Monday. Analysts said that Cs was being rejected by voters for not abstaining in parliament since April to allow a PSOE government in, pacting with the PP in some regional governments, and for losing some relevance as the PP moved more to the centre.

Meanwhile, the biggest smiles on Sunday were from Santiago Abascal and the leaders of Vox. Their percentage vote rose to just over 15, with 52 seats, up from 24 last time. Commentators said that Vox had done well on both the left and right thanks to its hard stance on the Constitution and anti-separatism feeling in Spain after recent violence in Catalonia.

The political scene is now more fragmented than ever, with many smaller parties splitting the vote. Íñigo Errejón's Más País, a breakaway from UP, secured less than it hoped for with three MPs, while the inland province of Teruel returned one MP of the Teruel Existe party, which campaigns against the depopulation of rural Spain.

The republican ERC is still the biggest party of the Catalan nationalists with 13 seats. Elsewhere, there are MPs from regional parties for the Canaries, Galicia, Cantabria, the Basque Country and Navarre.

Senate majority lost

In the Senate, the PSOE lost the majority it had only just gained in April, and fell back from 123 to 93 seats. The upper house is now hung like the lower house.

Speaking on election night, Pedro Sánchez said he would try to form a "progressive" and "stable" government, a formula that still depends on Unidas Podemos and Catalan nationalist support or abstention.

Pablo Iglesias of UP, in his speech after the results, extended the offer of a "progressive" coalition to Pedro Sánchez once again and lamented the rise of the far right.

Speaking at his party's headquarters, Vox's Abascal said, "Voters on the right can now afford to vote for Vox, and it is not a wasted vote."

Meanwhile C's Albert Rivera didn't resign on election night itself, waiting instead until the next day after speaking to fellow party bosses. Accepting responsibility for the disappointing result and amid tears from his colleagues, he said he was going immediately, in keeping with "his values" and "for the good of the project".

Many analysts consider it hard for Cs to ever regain a significant centre-ground presence in the Congreso chamber, as voters shift away, back to left-wing, right-wing or nationalist positions.

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