Right-wing preference in Spain and far-right elections hopes for a return to power

World News
2023-07-23 | 11:08
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Right-wing preference in Spain and far-right elections hopes for a return to power
Right-wing preference in Spain and far-right elections hopes for a return to power

Spanish citizens cast their votes on Sunday in early legislative elections, with the right-wing appearing to have the advantage and the possibility of bringing the far-right to power for the first time since the end of Franco's dictatorship.

After casting his vote in central Madrid, the leader of the People's Party (right-wing), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who could replace Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez according to opinion polls, told the press that he hopes Spain will "start a new era."

Among the four main candidates, Sánchez was the first to vote and stated to journalists that these elections are "very important... for the world and for Europe."

In an indication of the elections' significance, voter turnout sharply increased to 40.48% at 14:00 (12:00 GMT), compared to 37.92% in the last legislative elections in 2019.

This number does not include the 2.47 million voters out of 37.5 million who cast their ballots by mail, setting a record due to the elections being held in mid-summer for the first time.

These elections have also garnered exceptional attention abroad due to the possibility of a coalition between the conservative right-wing and the far-right Vox party, whose support may be necessary for the People's Party to form a government.

Such a scenario could bring the far-right to power in Spain for the first time since Franco's dictatorship ended nearly half a century ago in 1975.

After voting in Madrid, the leader of Vox party, Santiago Abascal, stated that he is confident the elections "will allow for a change of course in Spain."

Affirming the election's importance, the outgoing Minister of Labor Yolanda Díaz, leader of the left-wing radical Sumar party and an ally of Sánchez, announced that "these elections are the most important for my generation" and added that their outcome "will shape the features of the coming decade."

Polling stations opened at 09:00 (07:00 GMT) for these elections, in which voters are electing members of the Congress of Deputies (350 seats) and the Senate (208 seats).

Voting will close at 20:00 (18:00 GMT), and preliminary results will be released approximately an hour later.

With the European elections scheduled for 2024, a right-wing victory, and possibly the inclusion of the far-right in the government in the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone, following its triumph in Italy last year, would deal a severe blow to European left-wing parties.

This would carry significant symbolism, as Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Information technology expert Brian Sánchez (27 years old) who voted in Barcelona told AFP that "forming a coalition government between the People's Party and Vox would be beneficial because they would work to make Spain better."

All polls published until Monday predicted the victory of the People's Party led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo (61 years old). However, the ban on publishing polls five days before the elections has made the outcome uncertain.

Feijóo hopes to secure 176 seats, which would grant him an absolute majority in the Congress of Deputies, which consists of 350 seats. However, no poll has projected such a result, indicating that his party may need to form a coalition.

His only potential partner is the far-right Vox party, founded in 2013 after a split from the People's Party, which currently governs three out of 17 regions in Spain.

Abascal warned the People's Party that the price of Vox's support would be participation in the government.

Feijóo did not disclose his intentions regarding Vox, and in an interview with "El Mundo" on Friday, he said, "Two days before the elections, the candidate should not say who he will form a coalition with." However, he acknowledged that forming a coalition government with the far-right nationalist party "is not ideal."

Sánchez (51 years old), whose defeat is indicated by opinion polls following the left's loss in local elections that prompted him to call for these early elections, warned against the rise of the far-right to power as the main theme of his election campaign.

In a televised debate on Wednesday, the outgoing Prime Minister argued that forming a coalition government between the People's Party and Vox "is not just a setback for Spain in terms of rights, but a serious setback for the European project."

He believes that the only alternative to such a coalition government is to maintain the current left-wing coalition that was formed in 2020 between his Socialist Party and the radical left.

His words resonated with teacher Brauli Monyús (53 years old) who told AFP in Barcelona that he hopes for the formation of a "progressive government between the Socialists and Sumar."


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