Hard setback for Spanish premier Pedro Sanchez’s socialists and their leftist allies six months before the national elections. In the administrative vote in some of the main Spanish cities, the right obtained some victories of high specific weight: in addition to the traditional conservative fiefdom of Madrid, the Popular Party (PP) and Vox obtained the majority in Valencia and Seville, two large controlled municipalities in the last legislature by progressive formations. In Barcelona, however, the outgoing left-wing mayor Ada Colau was defeated by Xavier Trias, former mayor of the city between 2011 and 2015 and candidate of the independentists of Junts per Catalunya. In the meantime, the provisional ballot launched late Sunday evening indicates that the centre-left could also lose control of some of the 12 autonomous communities in which regional elections were held today: the bloodiest defeat for Sánchez and his followers could come in the Valencian Community, where Pp and Vox are ahead. Negative omens for Spain’s progressive political forces had already arrived from the survey released by the public television station Tve at the close of the polls. In light of all this, Sanchez called a snap election on July 23. The prime minister explained that the best thing now is for the Spaniards to “speak up” and decide earlier than expected. The vote for parliament was scheduled for the end of the year.
Progressives in trouble
The anticipation was then confirmed by the official results: a significant blow in particular for the aspirations of the formations of the national government (Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos) to remain in power in Madrid also in the next legislature. More negative news for the progressives is coming from the capital, with the popular Isabel Díaz Ayuso close to obtaining a third term as governor, this time perhaps even with an absolute majority. While at the municipal level, party colleague José Luis Martínez Almeida and outgoing mayor obtained confirmation for a second term by winning the 29 seats necessary for a government alone, largely beating the left-wing formations. Other defeats for the centre-left could come in the regions of Aragon, the Balearic Islands and La Rioja. The double appointment with the polls on May 28 was widely announced on the eve of it as a crucial test for the parties in the running.
On the one hand, Sánchez’s socialists and his leftist allies have faced voter judgment on their own political response in many territories to all the emergencies that have erupted over the past four years, from the Covid pandemic to the recent inflationary crisis linked to the war in Ukraine. On the other hand, for the traditional opponents of the PP and the ultra-conservatives of Vox, the round represented a great opportunity to test the effective will of the Spaniards to propitiate the “change of political cycle” of which they claim to be promoters. Also considering that, for some time now, neither of the two formations has closed the door to the possibility of giving life to a post-electoral axis such as the one already experimented in some territories, for example in the region of Castile and León. In the last local elections, held in 2019, the Socialist Party (PSOE) was overall the first force, with an advantage of about 1.6 million votes over the Popular Party: the margin of advantage was instead completely crumbled by the latter, which is now instead first force with almost 800,000 votes ahead. Under the national headquarters of this formation, in Madrid, several militants have already gathered to celebrate the result.