Spain’s Unprecedented Elections

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For the first time in the history of Spanish democracy, the King has had to call for new elections after the political parties failed to create a coalition government.

The Partido Popular (the Spanish equivalent of the Conservatives) were in power for the past four years, with Mariano Rajoy as prime minister.

In the last elections in December 2015, the Spanish people showed their dissatisfaction with the two traditional parties, the Partido Popular and the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (or PSOE, the socialist party) and the new radical left wing party, Podemos, and the liberal Ciudadanos won almost 40% of the seats. This comes as no surprise after years of high unemployment and cases of corruption, but it also meant that there was no clear majority.

It has been four months since the elections, and none of the parties have been able to build a strong enough coalition to be able to form a majority government. Every party has blamed other parties for this failure, and the King Felipe VI has announced that Article 99 of the Spanish Constitution will now take effect. This means that parliament will be dissolved and new elections will be held. However, it is not certain that new elections will solve this impasse if Podemos and Ciudadanos take a part of the votes that the Partido Popular or PSOE used to receive. The Spanish voters have grown weary of their parties bickering and lack of compromise necessary to work together.

On the morning of 3rd May, the King signed the document dissolving the shortest lived parliament since the end of Spain’s dictatorship and calling for new elections, which will be held on June the 26th. Until a new government is announced Mariano Rajoy will remain acting prime minister.  Whether these new elections will break the political deadlock looks improbable, but hopefully the parties will manage to negotiate a government second time round.

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Spanish, Portuguese and European Studies student, on her year abroad in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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