Spain's center-left Socialists win national elections

Pedro Sanchez, of Spain's Socialist Party, celebrates his re-election
(Image credit: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

Spanish voters gave the ruling center-left Socialist Party a significantly larger plurality in the lower house of Parliament and new control of the Senate in national elections Sunday. With 99 percent of the votes counted, the Socialists won 29 percent of the vote, for about 123 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies. Turnout was a near-record-high 76 percent.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will have to form a coalition to govern, and pairing with the far-left Podemos (United We Can) party — which has already agreed to coalition talks — would leave Sánchez in need of about 11 seats from smaller regional and separatist parties. He could form a government outright by pairing with the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, though neither party appeared enthusiastic about such an outcome.

On the right, the once-dominant conservative Popular Party won only 66 seats in the lower house, a loss of more than half its seats since the 2016 election, and ceded control of the Senate to the Socialists. Ciudadanos picked up some of those seats, winning 57 seats in the lower house, from 32, and the far-right Vox party won 10 percent of the vote for 24 seats. Vox, which formed five years ago, will be the first far-right party with a significant presence in Parliament since Spain transitioned to democracy after the 1976 death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

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"Social democracy has a great future because it has a great present and Spain is an example of that," Sánchez said. "We will form a pro-European government to strengthen and not weaken Europe." Santiago Abascal, the leader of Vox, made a reference to the "reconquista," when Spanish Catholic monarchs pushed the Moors out of Spain in the 15th century: "We told you that we were going to begin a reconquering of Spain and that's what we have done." Vox, which had been hoping to ride its momentum to a kingmaker role, is opposed to feminism, liberal elites, and Muslims, among other groups.

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