Thursday

21st Feb 2019

Crisis election changes political landscape in Spain

  • Rajoy delivers his victory speech Sunday - some voters are fed up with the de facto two party system (Photo: PP)

The Spanish conservative People's Party (PP) regained power and fringe groups did well in elections on Sunday (20 November).

The PP as predicted won an absolute majority of 186 places in the 350-seat lower house - the best result in the history of the party.

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Its leader and Spain's future prime minister, the softly spoken Mariano Rajoy, said he would run an inclusive government to restore the country's reputation after the outgoing Socialists presided over a massive surge in unemployment and a slump in market confidence comparable to Greece.

"Nobody needs to worry. There will be no enemies but unemployment, economic stagnation and the crisis," he told a cheering crowd from the balcony of the PP headquarters in Madrid. "Spain's voice must be respected again in Brussels and Frankfurt. We will stop being part of the problem and will be part of the solution."

Rajoy kept quiet on policy plans ahead of Sunday for fear of losing votes, but is expected to push for more spending cuts and reforms making it easier to sack people.

The centre-left PSOE, in power since 2004, received just 110 seats - the worst result in the history of its party.

Meanwhile, smaller parties doubled their collective seats to 54.

The far-left Izquierda Unida shot from just two seats to 11. The result was seen by commentators as a protest aginst Spain's de facto two-party system and the way it engineered the economy in recent years.

Amaiur, the left-wing Baque separatist party, did well in its first-ever election, with seven seats - immediately overtaking the older Basque National Party.

Catalans also turned inward, with the moderate nationalist Convergence and Union party winning 16 seats, up from 10 in 2008.

The centre-left Union, Progress and Democracy party received five five seats, up from just one. "This election marks the end of bipartisanshilp," its leader Rosa Diez said.

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