22nd September 2021
Pedro Sánchez
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Number-crunching: who will Pedro Sánchez pact with (if anyone)?

Only one of the major parties competing for votes in Spain’s 10 November general election ought to be happy. The far-right Vox, which had no seats in the Congress of Deputies until this year, is now the number three party, winning 52 seats and 10% of the popular vote.

The Socialists (PSOE) again finished in first place but they lost three seats and their popular vote went down, but less than a point, to 28%.

The People’s Party (PP), which was devastated in the 28 April election, due to their corruption scandals, recovered somewhat, gaining four points in the popular vote and a third more seats.

ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez greeted by ‘Sit and Talk’ protestors in Catalonia

Plus ça change …

Crunching the numbers looking for a voter shift to the left or right reveals a remarkable sameness.

In April, the combined vote of the parties on the right – PP, Ciudadanos (Cs), Vox, and NA+ (Navarra Suma) — was 43.22%. Sunday, they received 43.11%.

Hidden in those numbers is the unprecedented collapse of the Cs vote, which lost 47 of the 57 seats they won in April.

Combining all the left parties in the Congress shows a gain of less than one point, up from 49.09% in April to 49.69%.

If the Podemos groupings, Más País (which split from Podemos), the Basque country’s EH Bildu and Catalonia’s CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) are counted as far left, their combined vote was 17.3%, compared to 15.97% in April for Podemos, EH Bildu and Compromis in April.

More importantly, their total  Congress-seat count went down by 3 seats.

Slight gain for separatists

Support for independence parties went up very slightly. EH Bildu, which supports Basque independence, adds one seat and increased its vote share by 0.16%.

In Catalonia, the CUP ran for the first time and won two seats, while Esquerra Repubicana (ERC) went down two seats but is now the fifth largest party in the Spanish Congress. Combined, the popular vote for the two parties went up to 4.62% from ERC’s 3.89% in April.

The parties calling for the release of the Catalan political leaders sentenced on 14 October hold 30 out of 48 seats in the Congress. Election commentators said the Catalan issue was key. With people in the streets in Catalonia demanding their release, that could loom large for efforts in Madrid to form a government.

ALSO READ: Spain’s far-right Vox party: Catalan sentences not harsh enough

Will Vox pull PP rightward?

Whilst the left moved only a smidgen more to the left, the right moved significantly further to the right.

Vox’s strength will likely lead the PP to protect their right flank. We already saw that last week in the Madrid Assembly regional parliament , which is controlled by the rightwing parties. The PP, and Ciudadanos, helped pass a Vox motion calling for the banning of separatist parties.

Vox finished first in Murcia (28%), in southeast Spain, and in Ceuta (35%), a city of 85,000 on Africa’s north coast. Support for Vox was lowest in the far north of Spain, especially in Catalonia (6.3%), Navarra (5.6%), Basque Country (2.4%) and Galicia (7.8%).

Four parties that didn’t have seats in the old Congress are now represented: Más País, CUP, the Galician (left) Nationalist Bloc (BNG) and Teruel Existe (from Teruel province in Aragon).

PSOE’s pact possibilities

In September, when PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez finally abandoned efforts to form a government, the polls suggested his party would do better in the election than it did. The numbers would suggest that will become more difficult, given Sunday’s result.

Of course, the numbers are only part of the equation. Sánchez could opt for a deal with the PP, for example.

A right-wing government does seem out of the question, with 152 seats for the parties on the right and 18 for the centrist regional parties. And it’s hard to imagine any of those centre parties (or the left) joining any kind of coalition that includes Vox.

All the left parties combined have 180 seats, a majority in the 350-seat Congress. But can the centre-left PSOE work with the pro-independence parties, or vice versa?

Daniel Schwartz used to write features for CBCNews.ca and before that worked for many years as a TV producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation‘s news department.

ALSO READ: Up close on the ‘Freedom March’ to Barcelona 

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