Pedro Sanchez – Spain’s Prime Minister - has called a General Election for the 28th April after his government failed to pass its budget. The proposed budget was defeated by 191 votes to 158 after Catalan MP’s opted to vote against it. The April General Election will be Spain’s third election in under four years – and with no clear front runner it looks as if Spain’s political future will remain uncertain. It was always unlikely that Pedro Sanchez and his government would last long: given that the P SO E (Spanish Socialist Workers Party) only came to power following a no confidence vote in former Prime Minister Rajoy. The P S O E have just 84 of the 350 seats in Spain’s Congress of Deputies.
The P S O E government had been depending upon the support of both Podemos and nationalist parties to get legislation through; however, there was always a ticking time bomb in this formula – Catalonia. Pedro Sanchez has always ruled out an independence referendum which is illegal under the Spanish constitution, instead he offered increased dialogue. The conciliatory nuance in this approach meant that Mr Sanchez’s government lasted longer than most thought it would, however without the possibility of full independence this alliance was doomed from the start. Furthermore, this approach may harm the P S O E in the upcoming election if the People’s Party or Ciudadanos party’s more hard-line approach proves to be popular with voters.
Image: The current distribution of seats in the Congress of Deputies
It is highly unlikely that there will be a clear winner in this election with enough seats to form an outright majority. The continued popularity of the two relatively new parties – Podemos and Ciudadanos – means that votes which would traditionally have been cast for either the P S O E or PP are now more divided. This election also comes in the shadow of the far-right party VOX’s increase in popularity and victory in regional elections in Andalusia in December where it won 12 seats. The party is set to win it’s first seats in Parliament. Current polls predict that P S O E will win a plurality of seats but will fall short by far of the required 176 for a majority. Between now and the end of April however everything could change.