Far-right Vox party surges in elections in Spain as Socialists win

The Socialist Party (PSOE) of caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez won the highest number of seats but fell short of an absolute majority at the repeat General Election in Spain.

With around 99% of the vote counted, the PSOE had taken 120 seats – three fewer than the result it managed at the previous general election. The conservative Popular Party (PP) won 87 seats – a major gain from the 66 seats it secured in the last election, its worst result ever. But far-right group Vox saw the most significant rise, jumping from 24 to 52 seats, to become the third-largest party in Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies.

Unidas Podemos – a coalition of United Left and anti-austerity group Podemos – retained 35 of the 42 seats it won at the last election, while the center-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) suffered a crushing defeat, losing more than 40 seats to be left with just 10.

The inconclusive results mean that Spain is facing more political uncertainty, as neither the left-wing or right-wing blocs have the 176 seats needed for an absolute majority in the 350-seat Congress. Ciudadanos’ collapse and the rise of the PP and Vox have consolidated right-wing positions in Congress, while the centre has become practically irrelevant.

While Sánchez said he was reaching out to all political parties, he made a point of excluding “those that sow the rhetoric of hate,” in an apparent reference to Vox.

Just one year ago, Spain was the only large country in Europe without a xenophobic party sitting in parliament.

Support for the far-right group appears to have soared in response to the violent protests in Barcelona that erupted in October after the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatists to prison for their involvement in the 2017 breakaway bid. The ruling led to major disturbances, with hundreds of people injured and more than €2.7 million in damage caused to public property.

During a televised debate ahead of the election, Vox leader Abascal pledged to outlaw separatist parties – including the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) – and send the Catalan premier to prison.

Vox has also been a vocal critic of the recent exhumation of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen. The party opposes the Historical Memory Law (which formally condemns the Franco regime), and has also campaigned against immigration and the gender violence law.

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