Spain: what comes after the right’s election victory?

In Spain, the conservative Popular Party (PP) has won local and regional elections with 31.5 percent of the vote. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists came second with 28.2 percent, with the far-right Vox landing third place. In view of the heavy losses of left-wing parties, Sánchez has announced that the country’s parliamentary elections will be brought forward from December to 23 July. The press assesses the results, also in the European context.

Público (ES) /

Surprising, disrespectful and incomprehensible

Público doesn’t understand what Sánchez is up to:

“The decision is surprising because it seems logical that he would have discussed the strategy with his cabinet. ... It also seems disrespectful to make the election of city councils, parliaments and regional governments coincide with the snap election. And this has unforeseeable consequences for the country’s European presidency [from July 2023]. It’s hard to imagine how this will work with only a temporary government in office. ... Moreover, calling elections just when the opponent is stronger and more powerful seems politically incomprehensible. As is the fact that he is foregoing this six-month period in which he could really bring to bear what he has achieved.”

Juan Torres López
El País (ES) /

Firing the last bullet

The left parties must get their act together quickly, El País stresses:

“This was a resounding disaster for the left. Podemos lost in Madrid and Valencia, and the left is suffering a general decline. ... In addition to neutralising the echo of the PP’s euphoria the advance decided by Sánchez will shorten the bloody confrontations between the leftist parties: they have only 10 days to decide whether to run together. ... Any possibility of a new edition of the current governing coalition will be an exercise in responsibility, maturity and political pragmatism which the left has not wanted or been able to show so far. ... Sánchez has fired the last bullet to prevent the fall of the Socialists and the agony of the left.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Choice between the past or the future

Sánchez’s decision to hold a snap election is a courageous move, praises Spain correspondent Reiner Wandler in the taz:

“Sánchez had only one chance and he is seizing it. He finally wants to talk about politics again instead of about ideological ghosts like the destruction of Spain by an armed organisation called Eta that has long since ceased to be active. ... Because that’s what this is all about: a traditional, macho, pro-uniform, Catholic Spain with bullfighting which knows no sexual minorities and no regional languages — heterogenous and big, as Franco put it — or a modern, diverse, colourful, social, plurinational, pioneer with rights for all. Past or future — that’s what Spain will have to decide on 23 July.”

Reiner Wandler
La Repubblica (IT) /

Not a natural fluctuation

La Repubblica asks:

“Is this a normal political development resulting from the natural fluctuations of public opinion in a democracy, or is it a new phenomenon that could have long-term structural consequences? ... The reassuring natural fluctuation version ignores an important political novelty resulting from the recent success of the European right. ... Because from Italy to Spain, from Sweden to Finland, the defeat of the left is accompanied not only by an upsurge of parties close to the EPP but also by the success, in some cases enormous, of the far right, which does not recognise itself within traditional Christian Democratic moderatism.”

Andrea Bonanni
L’Opinion (FR) /

The right is changing

The election results in Spain are confirmation of a clear trend in Europe, L’Opinion comments:

“The right is winning, and changing. Across Europe, the dividing line between the right and the far right seems to be gradually blurring. Often more social, the far right is becoming mainstream and shedding its anti-European rhetoric. And for its part, the classical right is adopting its rival’s positions on migration. ... In Italy, an heiress to the neo-fascist movement is running the country without making waves. In Sweden and Finland, right-wing populist parties are members of the governing coalition. In Spain too, tomorrow? And if Denmark is withstanding the right-wing wave this is also due to the fact that the governing left there is pursuing an anti-immigration policy.”

Jean-Dominique Merchet