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Saturday, July 2, 2016

People's Party in Spain wins most seat but still short of a majority

For the second time in six months, Spanish elections ended up with no party winning a majority although the ruling People's Party increased the number of seats they hold.

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The center-right party of acting PM Mariano Rajoy the People's Party (PP) won 137 seats an increase of 14 from the last elections in December. However, 176 seats are needed for a majority in the 350 seat legislature. Nevertheless Rajoy told cheering supporters: "We have won the elections.We claim our right to govern." Rajoy must now enter a round of talks with other parties to drum up enough support to form a coalition government with a majority. The effect of the recent Brexit vote in the UK may have encouraged more to vote for the relatively conservative PP but it was not enough to form a majority government.
There will be pressure to reach a deal quickly to reduce uncertainty. Options include a center-right pact with the new Ciudadanos, a grand coalition between the two front-runners, the PP and the Socialists, or perhaps even a minority government of the PP. The Socialist Party has already rejected PP proposals for a grand coalition.The Socialists came in second place. Socialist Party spokesperson Antonio Hernando said: "We are not going to support Rajoy's investiture or abstain." Rajoy said that if he were unable to form a stable coalition he would simply govern day-by-day.
Although the PP did better this time than in November there is still no major change. Rajoy faces the daunting task of trying to hammer together a coalition. The failure to form a coalition is what sparked these elections. One surprise in the elections is that after the Brexit protest party Podemos did not surge in the polls and overtake the Socialists for second place as some analysts thought might happen. The Socialists won 85 seats contradicting an early exist poll that suggested they might come in third. The result was just five fewer than they had won in December. However, Podemos was not far behind at 71 seats while Ciudadanos won 32 seats. Pablo Iglesias the Podemos leader denied that his party was Eurosceptic and said he was sad the UK had voted to leave Europe.
Podemos is just two years old and grew out of protests at economic conditions in Spain, with communists and some Greens joining together. Podemos means United We Can.
Antonio Barrosa of the Teneo Intelligence political risk consulting group said he expected that negotiations to form a coalition would be tough: "It was hoped that these elections would bring clarity and that a government would be formed quickly, but I don't think that's how it's going to be."


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