Spanish election could put far-right back in office for first time since Franco

Spanish Election Could Put Far-Right Back In Office For First Time Since Franco
Such a coalition would return a far-right force to the Spanish government for the first time since the country transitioned to democracy in the late 1970s following the near 40-year rule of dictator Francisco Franco.
Share this article

By AP Reporters

Spain’s general election could make the country the latest European Union member to shift to the political right.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the early election after his coalition’s far-left partner, Unidas Podemos, took a beating in local and regional elections two months ago.


Most polls put the right-wing Popular Party ahead of the Socialists, but it is likely to need the support of the extreme-right Vox party to form a government.

Such a coalition would return a far-right force to the Spanish government for the first time since the country transitioned to democracy in the late 1970s following the near 40-year rule of dictator Francisco Franco.

Here is what you need to know about the vote:

– What is at stake?

Spanish parliament
The Spanish parliament’s lower house in Madrid. Photo: AP. 

Opinion polls indicate the political right has the edge going into the election, and that raises the possibility a neo-fascist party will be part of Spain’s next government.

The extreme-right has not been in power in Spain since the transition to democracy following the death of Franco in 1975.

With no party expected to win an absolute majority, the choice for voters is basically between another leftist governing coalition or one between the right and the far-right.


On one side is the right-of-centre Popular Party (PP) under Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the front-runner in the polls, and the extreme-right Vox party.

They portray the vote as a chance to end “Sanchismo” – a term the PP uses to sum up what it contends are the dictatorial ways of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the left’s radical ideology and numerous lies by the government.

In the other corner are the Socialists and a new movement called Sumar that brings together 15 small leftist parties for the first time. They warn that putting the right in power will threaten Spain’s post-Franco changes.

– Why were early elections called?

Sumar supporter
A supporter wearing a pin of left-wing Sumar Prime Minister candidate Yolanda Diaz attends a political rally in Madrid. Photo: AP. 

Mr Sanchez called the election a day after his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and its small far-left coalition partner, Unidas Podemos (United We Can), took a hammering in local and regional elections on May 28.

Prior to that, Mr Sanchez had insisted he would ride out his four-year term, indicating that an election would be held in December.

But after the May defeat, he said it was only fair for Spaniards to decide their country’s political future without delay.


– What has happened since May 28th?

Vox supporters
Supporters of Vox, the extreme-right party which could enter government to support the centre-right Popular Party Photo: AP. 

The Popular Party emerged from the local and regional elections as the most-voted party by far, giving it the right to take office in all but a handful of towns and one or two regions.

Since then, the PP and Vox have agreed to govern together in some 140 cities and towns as well as to add two more regions to the one where they already co-governed.

The Socialists and other leftist parties lost political clout across the country – but after weathering the initial shock, they have regrouped and recovered some ground, which means there is still a doubt over the outcome on Sunday.

– What does it mean for Europe?

Popular Party supporters
Popular Party supporters listen to their leader, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, in Barcelona. Photo: AP. 

A PP-Vox government would mean another EU member has moved firmly to the right, a trend seen recently in Sweden, Finland and Italy.

Countries such as Germany and France are concerned by what such a shift would portend for EU immigration and climate policies.

Spain’s two main leftist parties are pro-EU participation. On the right, the PP is also in favour of the EU, but Vox is not.

The election comes as Spain holds the EU’s rotating presidency. Mr Sanchez had hoped to use the six-month term to showcase the advances his government has made.

An election defeat for Mr Sanchez could see the PP taking over the EU presidency reins.

– What are the campaign themes?

Stage is dismantled
A campaign worker removes the stage following a rally of Spain’s Prime Minister and Socialist candidate Pedro Sanchez in Huesca, northern Spain. Photo: AP. 

The campaign has been dominated by mudslinging from all sides, with both the left and right accusing each other of lying about their policies and past records.

The PP has managed to put Mr Sanchez’s credibility in question by highlighting the many U-turns he has made and his alliances with small regional secessionist parties, an issue that alienates even some left-wing voters.

The left has sought to convince voters that there is little difference between the two right-wing parties and that a victory for them would set Spain back decades in terms of social progress.

Nearly every poll has put the PP firmly ahead of the Socialists and Vox ahead of Sumar for third place. But 30% of the electorate is said to be undecided.

With the election taking place at the height of summer, millions of citizens are likely to be on holiday away from their regular polling places.

However, postal voting requests have soared, and officials are estimating a 70% election turnout.

– Is there any chance of a surprise result?

Popular Party supporters
Most polls put the right-wing Popular Party ahead of the Socialists. Photo: AP. 

A surprise factor that could upset poll predictions is Sumar: the brand new, broad-based movement of 15 small left-wing parties, including Podemos and prominent social figures.

Sumar is headed by the highly popular labour minister Yolanda Diaz, who is also the second deputy vice president and the only woman among the leaders of the four main parties.

This is the first time small left-wing parties have ever come together on a joint ticket in Spain. Their earlier fragmentation was blamed for many of the town and regional losses in the May election, and they hope that joined together they can make a better showing.

Sumar’s target is to beat Vox to the potentially king-making third-place finish.

That would allow Sumar to provide valuable support to another leftist coalition government.

However, surveys have consistently suggested during the campaign that an absolute majority for the PP and Vox is possible.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by