Stalemate in Spain

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On Sunday, Spanish voters cast their ballots for the second time in six months. The elections in December resulted in a hung parliament, and after four months of failed negotiations trying to form a coalition government King Felipe VI dissolved parliament and announced that new elections would take place.

The whole way through the second campaign polls were predicting that the political impasse wouldn’t be broken, and in fact, it wasn’t. The right wing party, Partido Popular (PP), who were in charge last time gained votes after a campaign based in keeping the country united and stable, but still didn’t gain a majority after receiving 33% of votes. The left wing socialist party, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) lost a few seats in comparison to the last election, but still came second at 23%.

Since democracy was reinstated in Spain after Franco these two parties have alternated who was in power, until now. Over the past few years they have both been involved in corruption scandals, though PSOE to a lesser extent. Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the Partido Popular, claims that his government increased both jobs and economic growth, his rivals always point out that the jobs are unstable, and inequality has risen.

Because of this, other parties have increased in popularity. The rising left wing star, Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos formed a coalition with ta Communist party called Unidos and became Unidos Podemos (meaning ‘Together We Can‘). They ran an emotional campaign based on defending the country’s poorest citizens and removing EU austerity (but not leaving the EU).

They were expected hugely increase their seats in parliament, instead they lost a million votes. Maybe because the UK leaving the EU shook the Spanish economy and worried Spanish voters into voting for the Partido Popular, that was viewed as the safe choice rather than risking another recession. The new centre right party, Ciudadanos came fourth.

Mariano Rajoy has said that he has the right to resume office since he gained the most votes, however PSOE has stated that they won’t back him. The race is on to see who can form a coalition first, rather than forcing voters to the booths for a third time.

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

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