Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez went on the attack on Wednesday, ahead of the 23 July general election, which he said would be a vote for Spain being ‘a country of rights’, or ‘a Spain of the far right’.
In an address to his socialist (PSOE) MPs, Sánchez said there was ‘no difference’ between the People’s Party (PP), who regard themselves as ‘conservative’, and the far-right Vox group, and he warned they would together ‘dismantle the social progress’ made since he took office in 2018.
In a Tweet from the PSOE party (see below), the message was reinforced with an image of Sánchez in red (the socialist party colour) pointing the finger at the leaders of both Vox and the PP, Santiago Abascal and Alberto Núñez Feijóo, both in green (the party colour of Vox).
In his address on Wednesday, Sánchez warned that the right could reverse minimum wage hikes and other social advances if it wins the 23 July general election that he announced by surprise on Monday, following his party’s disastrous results in Sunday’s local and regional elections.
The PP seized six regions in Sunday’s elections that had been led by socialists, although in most of them it will need the support of the Vox party to govern.
The polls were widely seen as a dress rehearsal for a general election that had been expected at the end of the year, but is now slated for late July.
Sánchez said that among the reforms at risk if the right wins the 23 July election is a sharp rise in the minimum wage, extra funding for scholarships and a climate change law.
‘We have to clarify if Spaniards want to continue with policies that expand rights or if they want to repeal those rights,’ he said. ‘We can’t afford the luxury of giving up even a centimetre of ground.’
The PP – which has for months topped opinion polls – had framed Sunday’s elections as a referendum on Sánchez.
During the campaign, PP head Feijóo argued that the vote was an opportunity to ‘turn the page on Sanchismo,’ a derogatory expression for Sánchez’s policies.
Sánchez has struggled with public fatigue with his government as well as voter disenchantment over soaring inflation and falling purchasing power.
He has also been hurt by the repeated crises with his left-wing coalition partner Podemos, as well as by his reliance on Catalan and Basque separatist parties to pass legislation.