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Foreign Affairs Desk, Part I: Who Will Reign in Spain?

We are always interested in what is going on in terms of the ebb and flow of far-right movements around the world. This weekend, Spain held a snap election that produced... surprise results. Or perhaps we should say messy results. Reader A.L. in Corbera, Valencia, Spain was kind enough to send in a report:

Back in May, Spanish local elections resulted in a clear defeat for PM Pedro Sánchez of the left-wing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Perhaps in order to defy Z's prediction that the summer elections calendar would be bare, or maaaaaaybe because he prefers to be on the attack, Sánchez advanced the general elections, previously scheduled for this December, to this past Sunday.

For months, polls have been predicting victory for the right-wing People's Party (PP). However, it was not clear whether PP could have a majority of its own, or if it would have to govern in coalition with far-right Vox, a party which has never been in power nationally and is generally despised in the post-Francisco Franco democratic Spain.

Confident with what the polls were telling them, PP's strategy was to conquer both the center, in a repetition of the eternal war with the PSOE, and also to dwarf as much as possible the power of the far-right Vox. The result is not quite what they expected: While they successfully kicked Vox in the teeth, reducing them to 33 deputies (19 fewer than in the previous legislature), the total for all right-wing seats is only 171 (of 350). And the total for the PSOE and its allies combined, including centrist Basque separatists (who have made very clear they will never consider a agreement with far-right Vox) is... 172.

As a result, Sánchez's party did not win that pyrrhic battle, since his party has fewer seats than PP, and since the two main left-wing parties (PSOE and Sumar) have fewer seats between them, with 153, than the two main right-wing parties (PP and Vox), with 169. However, Sánchez certainly made it possible that he might succeed himself, at least for a couple of months overseeing a caretaker government. Then, maybe he will be able to form a government, or maybe he won't. Whatever happens, there will probably be another round of elections in or around December, at which time Sánchez will be in a much better position than he was after May's results.

Thanks, A.L.! We will add that in addition to being yet another worldwide setback for far-right interests (see also Bolsonaro, Jair; Wilders, Geert; Le Pen, Marine; Trump, Donald; etc.), this is also another illustration of the fact that when a country has a parliamentary system and numerous viable parties, and sentiments are fairly evenly divided between right and left, it can be very hard to form a viable government (see also The Netherlands, Israel, etc.). In fact, this is the fifth Spanish election in a row that has resulted in a hung parliament. (Z)

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