Spanish Election: Polls Predict Socialists Win Most Votes, Populist Vox to Enter Parliament for First Time

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 26: Supporters of far right wing party VOX wave Spanish and Vox flags in the air during the VOX closing rally on April 26, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. Spaniards go to the polls to elect 350 members of the parliament and 208 senators this Sunday. This …
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty

Spaniards are set to go to the polls on Sunday for the third time in three and a half years with the ruling Socialists predicted to win the largest number of votes but fall short of a majority, while the right-populist Vox is expected to enter the national parliament for the first time.

Five parties are in the race, with a number of recent polls pointing to the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party coming out on top, taking between 28 and 32 per cent of the vote.

The polls also put the conservative People’s Party (PP) in second, with 20 per cent of voters’ intention; in third place, the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens party) with between 14 and 15 per cent; the far-left Podemos in fourth with between 12 and 14 per cent; and in fifth place the right-populist Vox, with between 11 and 13 per cent.

Described as a tight race, Agence France-Presse reports that should the Socialists fall short of the 176 seats needed for a majority in the 350-seat parliament, party leader and incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sànchez will need allies to form a coalition government.

Likely candidates include the far-left Podemos with support from smaller separatist-nationalist parties in Catalonia and the Basque region. Prime Minister Sànchez has also not ruled out an alliance with the Citizens party, which would make for an unusual left-centre-right coalition, but Citizens leader Albert Rivera is rather less keen, expressing that his party will “chase him [Sànchez] from power” and saying he would only go into a coalition with other conservatives.

Polls also suggest it is not likely Spain could be ruled by a right-wing coalition of the People’s Party, Citizens party, and Vox, with El País putting the likelihood at around ten per cent.

The BBC describes support for the establishment-conservative People’s Party as having “collapsed” following a corruption scandal that resulted in a no-confidence vote led by Sànchez and backed by Podemos, the Citizens, Catalan separatists, and Basque nationalists which resulted in the ousting of People’s Party Prime Minister Mario Rajoy in June 2018, with the Socialist leader taking over.

Vox is also taking votes from the establishment conservatives. Vox was founded as an offshoot of the People’s Party in 2013, with Vox president Santiago Abascal leading the party to take its first ever seats in a regional parliament in December 2018. Winning 11 per cent of the vote, which translated into 12 seats, Vox become the third-largest party in Socialist stronghold Andalucia.

The populist party describes itself as Christian democratic and pro-life. Critical of multiculturalism and mass migration, it favours strong borders. Different polls suggest the party could pick up around 26 to 30 seats in the national parliament.

Like other populist parties, Vox has eschewed the mainstream media, engaging instead directly with voters via social media. According to social media analysis group Social Elephants, Vox generated more interactions on social media that its other four competitors, with one-third of the total five parties’ interactions being generated by Vox.

Immigration and employment are likely to feature prominently in the minds of voters, after Spain became the number one destination for migrant sea landings last year, seeing 60,000 Africans arrive on its shores.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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