Latest World News: Spanish elections end in deadlock – Hindustan Times

SINCE LAST WEEK, Spanish election watchers have focused on the prospect of the hard right enter the government, for the first time since the return of democracy in 1978. It turned out that this was not the main thing. Pundits in Spain and elsewhere have overlooked the return of Spain’s chief artist: Pedro Snchez, the socialist prime minister. As the last votes were counted on Sunday evening, the right and left blocs were virtually tied and neither had a clear path to mustering a majority and installing a government. The right-wing bloc, led by the centre-right People’s Party (PP), came out on top predicted. The PP won 136 of the 350 seats. But polls had predicted it would hit nearly 150. Added to the far-right Vox party’s 33 seats, that was less than the 176 needed for a majority.

PRIME
A supporter waves the flags of Vox and Spain as the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal, speaks during a campaign meeting in Guadalajara July 15, 2023 ahead of the July 23 general election. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

The big surprise was the outperformance of Mr. Snchez’s Socialists. Instead of being punished as the polls had predicted, the party looked set to win a few seats, finishing with 122. Its preferred coalition partner, the far-left Sumar party, won 31. That also left them well short of a majority. Four regional parties, including Basque and Catalan secessionists, may be willing to vote in support of a minority Socialist-Sumar government. But even with their help, the Socialists and Sumar would be just short of the necessary figure.

General elections in Spain (The Economist)

The PP has made a big comeback in recent years, gaining 47 seats after a miserable result in 2019. But its outcome will live up to recent expectations. Here the party has clearly underperformed, raising questions about its strategy. Its leader, Alberto Nez Feijo, was considered to have won the first debate of the campaign, a two-way affair against Mr Snchez and opted out of the next two encounters, which included more parties. It looked like a conservative move to protect his lead. He may also have wanted to avoid being seen on stage next to Vox: throughout the campaign he refused to accept or rule out a coalition with the hard right, although that was always his most likely option.

The party appeared to lose momentum during campaigns last week. Mr Feijo made factual errors about pensions in a TV interview. An old photo of him with a man later convicted of drug trafficking has resurfaced in the media, and he has taken a break from campaigning due to back pain. None of these things should have been decisive. But the arrogance with which the party was heading into the election had dissipated.

The biggest loser of the night was Vox. The Spanish electoral system punishes parties scattered across the map. Vox’s vote share fell only from around 15.2% to 12.4%, but the party fell from 52 MPs to 33. And its presence in a putative coalition alongside the PP may have spooked some voters from the latter, as well as energized voters for the Socialists and Sumar. Along with the results, Vox leader Santiago Abascal complained about clearly manipulated polls that were depressing his party’s vote. But he conceded that he will not enter government this time around.

The other loser of the evening was the Esquerra Republicana, one of the two main separatist parties in Catalonia. The Socialists won in Catalonia and Esquerra lost six deputies. This seemed to justify Mr. Snchez’s strategy to calm the Catalan conflict. He pardoned the leaders of the unconstitutional 2017 independence referendum and removed the crime of sedition from the penal code, replacing it with a more benign offence. This infuriated his enemies, but seems to have paid off in Catalonia itself. Esquerras leader in Madrid, Gabriel Rufin, has promised that in return for supporting any new Socialist-led government, he will demand that all partners in Madrid respect our country.

The last significant group in parliament is the other major Catalan separatist party, Junts per Catalunya. The more vocal of the two separatist groups, it walked away from the government of Catalonia last year and tried to restore its fortunes. He objected to Esquerras’ strategy of gradually mending ties with the Madrid government. He only came fifth, by vote, in Catalonia. Its de facto leader remains Carles Puigdemont, in exile in Belgium since the illegal 2017 referendum, which he led. He said Snchez would not be prime minister with Junts votes, calling the prime minister the guy you wouldn’t even buy a used car from. It is a difficult position to give up.

None of the other non-PP parties will support a government that includes Vox. Junts will not join Mr. Snchez’s rainbow group. This leaves two options. Mr. Feijo called on all parties to engage in a dialogue on the possibility of allowing the PP to govern, possibly in a minority government. He explicitly warned the Socialists not to veto, noting that Spain had never been led by a prime minister who did not come first in the election. But the country has no tradition of grand coalitions. And it is hard to see Mr. Snchez accepting to abstain so that the PP can govern alone when the majority is 40 seats short.

The King of Spain will now invite one of the candidates (presumably Mr. Feijo) to try to form a coalition. In the meantime, Mr. Snchez will remain Prime Minister. If no one succeeds in forming a government, the country will have to hold new elections, which no one wants. But to avoid them, one of the currently stationary objects will have to move. It was the first time in Spain’s modern democratic history that he had held a vote in the heat of summer. Now, instead of a well-deserved vacation followed by a return to work in the fall, he faces the grim prospect of starting all over again.

Correction (July 24): A previous version of this article stated that Junts per Catalunya came in fourth by votes in Catalonia, not fifth. Sorry.

2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. Original content can be found at www.economist.com



Also read this Article:

An Overview of Global Events in 2023

In 2023, the world witnessed a myriad of events that left a lasting impact on global affairs. From political developments and economic shifts to environmental challenges and breakthroughs in science and technology, the year was marked by significant changes and a sense of urgency for collective action. Here’s an overview of some of the latest world news in 2023.

Political Unrest and Diplomatic Strides:
In the political arena, several regions experienced unrest and geopolitical tensions. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East continued to dominate headlines, with efforts towards peace and stability remaining elusive. However, there were also moments of diplomatic breakthroughs as nations engaged in dialogues to ease tensions and work towards lasting solutions.

Economic Transformations:
The global economy faced both challenges and opportunities. Trade disputes between major powers affected markets, while some countries grappled with debt crises. On the other hand, emerging economies showed resilience and promising growth, fueling optimism for a more balanced global economic landscape.

Technological Advancements:
Innovation surged forward in the tech industry, with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and space exploration. Quantum computing achieved milestones, promising radical transformations across industries. Renewable energy sources gained traction, with many countries setting ambitious goals to combat climate change.

Climate Crisis and Environmental Resilience:
As the climate crisis intensified, extreme weather events wreaked havoc in various parts of the world. Wildfires, hurricanes, and floods reminded humanity of the urgent need for climate action. In response, governments and communities across the globe doubled down on efforts to reduce carbon emissions, invest in sustainable infrastructure, and protect biodiversity.

Health and Pandemic Management:
Health remained a global priority as countries continued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of new variants, vaccination efforts and public health measures remained crucial to curbing the spread of the virus. There were also significant advancements in medical research and technology, offering hope for better preparedness in handling future health crises.

Sports and Cultural Milestones:
Amidst the challenges, the world found moments of joy and unity through sports and culture. International sporting events brought together athletes from diverse backgrounds, promoting solidarity and camaraderie. Cultural exchanges and celebrations showcased the richness of human diversity and fostered mutual understanding.

In conclusion, the year 2023 was a dynamic period filled with significant events that shaped the course of history. From political unrest to technological advancements and environmental challenges, the world witnessed the complexities of the global landscape. While obstacles remained, there were also encouraging developments and collaborative efforts towards a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future for all nations. As we move forward, the lessons learned from these events serve as a reminder of the importance of collective action and cooperation to address shared global challenges.