EUROPE
Electoral blow for Spanish socialists as centre-right allies with far-right

Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP/EPP) got the most votes in seven of the country’s 10 big cities in Sunday’s local elections, obtaining pluralities or majorities in Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Malaga, Murcia and Palma. However, it would have to forge coalitions with the far-right party VOX in some regions.

The PP gains, if replicated in the general election due in December, could unseat the current left-wing coalition of the socialist party PSOE (S&D) and Unidas Podemos (EU Left), although if the conservative party wants to take control of the regions – known as autonomous communities – it will presumably have to form a coalition with the far-right VOX, EFE reported.

With the decline in popularity of the left-wing Unidas Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens), with the PP evidently taking the latter’s seats on the councils, Spain appears to have largely returned to a two-party system where the PSOE and PP hold sway over other groups on the left and right.

The PP recovered electoral ground in Castilla y Leon, and will be able to govern in four or five provincial capitals, in Salamanca with an absolute majority, while in Valladolid and Burgos, it will have to form a coalition with the far-right party VOX. In Segovia, it will be able to form a minority government.

According to figures provided by the Interior Ministry, the Socialist Party (PSOE/S&D) maintained its control only in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and lost its preeminent position in Sevilla, Zaragoza and Palma.

In the regions, the PSOE may have lost its predominant position in Valencia and Extremadura.

Nationwide, the PP garnered 687,000 more votes than the PSOE, ensuring that 22,739 local officials will serve in various capacities to the Socialists’ 20,160.

The PP won 2,375 more councillor seats than during the 2019 elections, while the PSOE lost almost the same number – 2,181.

The PP obtained 6,691,731 votes to the PSOE’s 6,004,291 at the latest count.

Voter turnout was 63.83% – or some 22 million – down slightly from the 65.19% who turned out in 2019.

The PP obtained the most votes in 28 of Spain’s 50 provincial capitals, 17 more than in 2019, receiving an absolute majority in half of those races.

The centre-liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens) party was the big loser on the day, obtaining only 378 councillor seats and losing 2,409, dropping in vote percentage from 8.73% in 2019 to 1.35% on Sunday.

On the other hand, VOX doubled its electoral support in the municipal votes, rising from 3.5% to 7.1%, and more than tripling the number of councillor positions it controls – from 530 to 1,663.

Meanwhile, left-wing Compromis obtained 2.56% of the votes and 2,674 councillor positions in Valencia, followed by Catalan pro-independence ERC with 2.43% of the votes but 2,879 seats.

Basque nationalist EH-Bildu received 1.70% of the votes and 1,391 councillor seats, up 129 seats from 2019, followed by the PNV with 1.5% of the votes and 984 seats, down 71 seats from four years ago.

In Barcelona, pro-independence Junts (Together) prevailed in the municipal elections, and in Bilbao, the moderate nationalist PNV – just as in 2019 – was the top vote-getting party.

In Madrid, the PP won an absolute majority in the City Council races, obtaining 29 seats.

Left-wing Mas Madrid came in second with 12 councillors, with the PSOE failing to gain the most votes on the left and with Ciudadanos and left-wing Unidas Podemos (EU Left), coalition partner of the PSOE in the central Government, being left out of the mix.

In Barcelona, Junts obtained 11 councillors, while Junts mayoral candidate Xavier Trias defeated the Catalan socialist party PSC and its leader Jaume Collboni with more than 7,000 votes, with the city Mayor Ada Colau’s BComu coming in third with nine councillors.

In Valencia, meanwhile, the left lost control in Spain’s third-largest city, where the rightist bloc garnered 17 councillors, an absolute majority but just one more seat than the left.

The PP won 13 council races, up from the eight it had won in 2019, while Vox won four, two more than in the prior election, and Compromis garnered nine and the PSOE seven.

In Sevilla, the PSOE lost its big urban bastion, with the PP obtaining 14 councillor seats, six more than in 2019, to the Socialists’ 12, down from 13 the last time around.

The PP won an absolute majority in Zaragoza with 15 councillors, to the PSOE’s 10; in Malaga, the PP also obtained an absolute majority, garnering 17 of the 31 councillor seats, up from 14 in 2019, while the PSOE bagged 10 – down two from four years ago.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es, Europe Elects)

Source: Euractiv.com

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