On Sunday Spain went to the polls for the 15th time since the modern Congress of Deputies, in the Cortes, was formed in 1977. Dubbed #J23, 37,466,432 Spaniards registered to vote, and 70% of the population turned out, to have their say on who should govern the Kingdom of Spain for the next four years. The snap general election was called by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Following the local and regional elections back in May, many forecast a swing to the right despite a seemingly good performance through some challenging times. Though there has been some hand wringing over whether or not that may mean the need for the conservative centre to rely on ultra right nationalists, who did better than expected 2 months ago in the polls, or indeed if the socialists will need to rally a multi-party coalition of the populist left to continue to govern.

Election Map Image: Gust Justice – CC BY-SA 4.0


While the conservative candidate Alberto Feijóo (PP) claimed a pyrrhic victory, as the most voted for, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) appears to have done it once more, confounding the opinion pollsters, all of which had forecast the socialist leader’s demise, only for him to have returned, this election Sunday, with the potential to govern, if with the somewhat complex calculus of a multi-party coalition and, importantly, having left the keys to the Moncloa in the hands of Carles Puigdemont and the Catalonian separatists. Both PSOE and the PP improved their share of the seats in congress, at the expense of their respective extremes, but it appears that consensus and collaboration will be the order of the day.

The PP won the most seats with 136 deputies (+37), but fell well short of reaching the majority of 176 seats needed to govern absolutely, even with the ultra right-wing Vox, which obtained 33 seats (-19). PSOE, on the other hand, garnered 122 deputies, two more than in 2019, but if Mister Sánchez maintains his coalition with Podemos successor Sumar’s 31 seats (-7), and he again achieves the support of more regionalist parties parties such as ERC (7), EH Bildu (6), the PNV (5), and the BNG (1), he could achieve his re-investiture, albeit 3 seats short of a majority, with the abstention of the separatists, Junts per Catalunya.

It’s going to get complicated, especially as Carles Puigdemont’s party have said they are not minded to facilitate the re-election of the current head of the Executive, though his collaborators were exultant last night. They’re going to try . They believe that there will be no electoral repetition. The difference in votes with the PP, moreover, was much smaller than that of seats: just over 200,000 ballots in the difference.

15 Spanish General Elections Image: Matthew Bennet The Spain Report

In an election where the “sportification” of politics, “my team colours, never yours” has been feared as a polarising influence, the Socialist Party has, against expectations, held on to its position much better than many polls were forecasting, and just might yet be able to repeat a coalition to form a broad-based left of centre Spanish government.

Here are the numbers (at 95% of ballots confirmed) courtesy of The Spain Report:

PP: 32.7% (21%, +11), 7.7 million (5 million, +2.2 million), 136 MPs (89, +47)

PSOE: 31.9% (28%, +4), 7.4m (6.8m, +0.6m), 122 MPs (120, +2)

Vox: 12.4% (15%, -3), 2.9m (3.7m, -0.8m), 33 MPs (52, -19)

Sumar: 12.3% (15%, -3), 2.9m (3.6m, -0.7m), 31 MPs (38, -7)

Esquerra: 1.9% (3.6%, -1.63), 450.000 (875,000, -425,000), 7 MPs (13, -6)

Junts: 1.6% (2.2%, -0.6), 380.000 (530,000, -150,000), 7 MPs (8, -1)

Bildu: 1.4% (1.1%, +0.3), 331,000 (277,000, +54,000), 6 MPs (5, +1)

PNV: 1.2% (1.6%, -0.4), 275,000 (379,000, -104,000), 5 MPs (6, -1)

Sumar (the new leftist formation that emerged from Podemos) are compared to Podemos + En Comú Podem + En Común + Compromís + Más País in 2019.

The likely coalitions in the race for the top job stand with no clear majority for either of the main parties, left or right, even with the support of their extremes:

PP + Vox = 169 seats = no majority

PSOE + Sumar + Esquerra + PNV + Bildu + BNG = 172 seats = no majority

Carles Puigdemont’s separatist party in Catalonia, Junts, holds 7 seats.  They have made clear this morning that they will have demands if they are to let the Spanish left govern once again, so it looks like the Catalans will make the difference between a broad left of centre coalition, or a rematch come the autumn.

The politicians now have the next month, at the height of summer, to try to negotiate and agree a new government. If they fail to compromise and a suitable deal cannot be struck then a new general election will be on the cards for the autumn, as happened back in 2019. The new parliament is set to convene in Madrid on August 17th.

#J23 results on The Canary Islands

Here on the Canary Islands it was the socialists of PSOE who won the most votes, increasing their seats by one to achieve 6 of the 15 available, followed by the PP who also increased their number of seats by two to win 6 seats, while the right of centre regionalists, Coalición Canarias were the third most voted for party, they lost one of their seats, to only attain one this time, as did both Sumar and Vox. The left of centre regionalists, Nueva Canarias, failed to gain a seat this time on the national level.

Mayor Adolfo Palacios (PP), in the Northern town of Saldaña voting in #J23

Without doubt this was the most entertaining image of this general election, in the gladiatorial battle over the centre ground where regionalists, and extremes, of every flavour, may be needed to tip the balance one way or another, whether it is to be thumbs up or thumbs down.

Spanish mayor, Adolfo Palacios (PP), in the Northern town of Saldaña was photographed voting, while dressed as a Roman emperor, which managed to lighten the atmosphere a touch while we all waited to find out if either of the major parties have enough support to govern, or if we will need to return to the ballot box later in the year.

His entire entourage too were dressed up for the town’s annual “Roman Market” which just happened to fall on the same day, to the amusement of all involved…

…the lions watch on with hungry eyes