Let’s Tune Into The EU’s Periphery: And The Winner In Spain’s Election Is?

Nicholas Zalewski
Pedro Sanchez, leader of PSOE and, leader of partido Popular were the two main competing parties in the election. Source: euro.ESEuro

The hotly contested Spanish parliamentary election has come to an end and it was an extremely close election. Partido Popular received 33.05 percent of the vote and is expected to have 136 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.  PSOE received 31,7 percent of the vote and is expected to have 122 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. As this is not enough for a majority in the Spanish Parliament to govern alone, it is unclear which political parties will be able to create a ruling coalition. 176 seats in the Chamber of Deputies are required in order to have a majority. 

The results have given left leaning parties cause to celebrate as they were predicted to receive significantly less votes than they did, proving Prime Minister Sanchez’s move to anticipate the election to prevent rightwing parties from gaining more support worked. If Partido Popular and Vox are able to form a coalition with other parties, this would be the first time since the end of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975 that the far-right has been a part of the ruling coalition. However, both the left and right wing do not have enough seats to form an absolute majority. Junts de Carles Puigdemont who leads Junts per Catalunya is adamant he will not support PSOE or Partido Popular. This means neither party would be able to form a ruling coalition and likely cause the country to head back to the polls for another coalition, unless Puigdemont changes his mind. 

VOX defines Sanchismo as ” political movement based on the lie and total lack of principals and values, whose main value is Pedro Sanchez from which the movement receives its name. Capable of working with Basque terrorists and separatists, communists, separatists who attempt to overthrow the government, and the rest of Spain’s enemies with the sole purpose of forming a government and enjoying his FALCON (private jet) anchored at La Moncloa (official residence of Spanish Prime Minister). Source: JULIO CALVO IGLESIAS

Backlash Against Sanchismo

Part of the outrage which caused uncertainty how well PSOE would perform in the election is Prime Minister Sanchez going against some of his promises. This has led to some critics accusing him of “Sanchismo” due to breaking promises. He initially said he would never form a coalition government with Unidas Podemos, yet he did. He also claimed he would not pardon nine separatists who were sentenced to prison for attempting to make the region of Catalunya an independent nation from Spain, yet he did as well. This issue in particular is contentious as Spaniards against Catalunya gaining independence viewed Sanchez pardoning the nine separatists as an act of betrayal of the nation. Despite the dissatisfaction with Sanchez however, PSOE gained 2 more seats.

Advertisement showing Prime Minister Sanchez comfortable in his jet meanwhile Spainards try to take an overcrowded subway. Source: El Diario Vasco

Prime Minister Sanchez was also attacked with an ad in the Madrid subway system which featured a cartoon drawing of him in his private jet meanwhile the subway in Madrid suffers from problems. This advertisement echoes sentiments felt around the world as political elites encourage people to take overcrowded public transportation in order to help the environment meanwhile the political elites themselves travel by private jet.

On the other hand, Sanchez oversaw some economic successes such as a decrease in the unemployment rate. In 2018 Spain had an unemployment rate of 15,3 percent in 2018, yet this decreased to 12,7 percent in May 2023. This however is the highest unemployment rate in the European Union as Greece has been able to decrease its unemployment rate quicker than Spain has. In May 2023, Spain had a youth unemployment rate of 28,4 percent, the highest in the European Union as well. The minimum wage in Spain also increased from 735,9 euros in 2018 to 1,080 euros in 2023. At the same time, prices in Spain have been increasing because of inflation which dampens the ability to celebrate a higher minimum wage. To be fair though, the current inflation rate in Spain is lower than all but two EU member states (Luxembourg and Belgium) which helps Spanish consumers. 

Consequences for the European Union

This election will not only impact Spain but the European Union as well.On July 1st, Spain took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. This will be the fifth time that Spain leads the Council of the European Union since it joined the EU as a member state in 1986. If a coalition government is unable to be formed that includes PSOE, Spain’s presidency of the Council of the European Union will be led by two different Spanish Prime Ministers. 

There was the prediction that because of the results of the Spanish election, the far-right will gain support in other member states such as Germany where AFD has continued to increase its support in polls. Since Germany’s last national election in 2021, AFD has doubled its support from 10 to 20 percent. AFD as of July 14th, 2023 is polling higher than the Social Democrats. Italy’s first female prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni endorsed VOX in a speech. However, Vox received 19 less seats than the election in 2019. 

VOX campaign advertisement in Madrid. Source: Vox España Flickr

Far-Right In Spain

Since its founding in 2013, VOX has been gaining support as a far-right party. The party was created by Santiago Abascal, a former member of Partido Popular. VOX however frequently finds itself in trouble for exaggerating the truth. To underline the issue of foreigners committing a higher percentage of gang rapes in comparison to their share of the population in Spain, Abascal wrongfully claimed that 70.1 percent of gang rapes were committed by foreigners. This however is false and according to EU fact check, not a single document supports this statistic. Instead, a report published in 2017 gave the figure that foreigners represent 29,1 percent of assaulters. This alone is significantly higher than the 9,5 percent of Spain’s population which were foreigners in 2017 according to INE, Spain’s national statistics agency. This is an important issue related to how Spain can improve integration of immigrants while decreasing crime in the nation yet this lie takes focus away from the issue and makes Abascal appear untrustworthy. Considering Vox only received only 12.39 percent of the vote this election compared to 15.21 percent in 2019, it is clear that less Spaniards like VOX.  


Politicians not just in Spain but everywhere must stop lying and exaggerating evidence just to support their arguments. This alienates citizens who feel they cannot trust these politicians to then act in the best interests of the nation if elected. What is clear is that neither the left nor the right received a resounding endorsement from voters to lead the nation. Spanish voters also do not support the far-right as much was previously feared before the election. What would be best for Spain if both sides tried to compromise on important issues but if other nations can be used to predict how things will go in Spain, this is very unlikely. Instead, both sides will continue to be stubborn and refuse to attempt to bridge the divide that continues to grow not only in Spain, but across the European Union. 

Please Read The Following For More information:

Giles, Ciarán. “Las elecciones en España podrían llevar a la ultraderecha al gobierno por primera vez desde Franco” AP. 18 July, 2023.

Euronews with AFP. “General election results in Spain leave future of next government up in the air” Euronews. 24 July, 2023.


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  1. Pingback: Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Spaniards Take To The Streets - The New Global Order

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Let’s Tune Into The EU…

by Nicholas Zalewski time to read: 5 min