Spanish election: future unclear as left-wing parties make big gains

Podemos and Ciudadanos hold balance of power but Socialists may hold the key, say analysts

(Image credit: David Ramos/Getty)

Following a landmark general election yesterday, Spain faces political uncertainty after the ruling Popular Party (PP) lost its majority in parliament.

The Podemos and Ciudadanos parties were the big winners with Podemos winning 20.66% of the vote Ciudadanos claiming 13.93%.

The two traditional powerhouses of Spanish politics, the PP and the Socialists, remain the two largest parties with 28.72% and 22.01% of the vote respectively, but they face difficult coalition talks with the two smaller parties over the next few days.

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"Spain is not going to be the same anymore and we are very happy," said Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

"The fact that the conservative PP came first with just 29% of the vote tells you how split this election was," says the BBC's Tom Burridge.

"In reality the PP will struggle to find the necessary allies to form another government." He added: "After corruption scandals and austerity, the political landscape here has been dramatically changed."

Spain's current prime minister, the PP's Mariano Rajoy, has vowed to battle on despite the results, saying: "I'm going to try and form a government, but it won't be easy."

The election debate was dominated by the economy with the prime minister credited for returning the Spanish economy to growth through the adoption of unpopular austerity measures and controversial job reforms legislation.

However, unemployment remains at 21 per cent, the second highest in Europe after Greece, and the prime minister has come under repeated personal attacks over recent months, including being punched in the face by a teenager.

Many analysts believe the Socialists, despite their worst election result in modern history, hold the key to Spain's political future. Emilio Saenz-Frances, a professor of history and international relations at Madrid’s Comillas Pontifical University, told the Guardian that the Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez must decide whether to try and take power himself or let the prime minister continue.

"The question is whether Sanchez will allow Rajoy to lead the government or whether Sanchez will try to build a coalition of several parties in order to take power," said Saenz-Frances.

"For the first time in the history of democracy in Spain, it's not clear how the most-voted party will be able to govern," he added.

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