PEdro Sanchez A comeback is no stranger: In 2016, he was ousted as leader of the Socialist Party, touring the country to rally support and regaining control the following year. And he’s no rookie gambler; in 2018, he launched a motion of no confidence as leader of the opposition that unexpectedly named him prime minister. He’s not a bad political wrangler either: After the 2019 elections, he formed an awkward minority government with the radical left Podemos, who have been united ever since.
All those qualities are now on display as Mr Sanchez takes yet another gamble. On May 29, he announced snap elections on July 23, a day after his party suffered crushing defeats in regional and municipal elections. Conservative opposition People’s Party (Polypropylene) won not only the Valencia region (a former fortress it lost) but also the Aragon region (a harder target). It even won in the southwestern region of Extremadura, which the Socialists have controlled almost since Spain returned to democracy following the death of Francisco Franco in 1978. Other regions and iconic cities also swing from left to right.
Alberto Nunez Fejoo PolypropyleneThe leader, who has taken a moderate line in tone and policy, has benefited from the eventual demise of Ciudadanos, a liberal center-right party that fell into a death spiral after deciding not to enter government in 2019 under Mr Sanchez.this Polypropylene seems to have captured all voters, explaining its large gains.
Now, the two major parties must watch their flanks. Conservatives are the far-right Vox that emerged in the last election cycle.this Polypropylene Its support will be needed to govern in much of the territory it has just won. Vox, more than just supporting Polypropylene The minority government, which wants to join the regional administration (as it has already done in Castile and León). Mr Feijóo offered Mr Sánchez a deal under which every region should be allowed to govern regardless of which party wins, even without a majority, to keep extremist parties out. But Mr Sanchez appeared more willing to force the PP into power alongside Vox, portraying the July elections as a referendum on the rise of the hard right.
But Mr Sanchez has his own problems. His coalition partner, Podemos, has come under fire. Now the left-wing party of the Socialist Party must quickly reorganize. Spain’s labor minister and deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz, has allied with Podemos in the past but now leads a new group called Sumar. She pushes populist (and often popular) economic policies, while Podemos has pinned its flag on issues of identity politics; botched rape law reforms have dogged the party for much of the year. Sumar and Podemos have not yet decided whether to regroup. Spain’s electoral system punishes small parties; if they run separately, both parties suffer.
The right is gaining momentum after the weekend’s elections. Mr Sanchez barely had time to discover another talent: the general rewriting his strategy while already busy fighting. He only gave himself eight weeks to do it. ■