29 May, 2023 @ 19:30
3 mins read

Analysis: Why has Spain’s prime minister called snap elections?

Spain’s Pedro Sanchez announces VAT hike on electricity bills: Tax will rise to 10% and could more than double next year
Credit: Chris Kleponis / Pool/Sipa/Cordon Press

SPAIN’S prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, has been famous for taking risky decisions throughout his political career. And most of the time, these decisions have paid off. 

But what no one was expecting today, after his Socialist Party suffered a humiliating defeat at regional and local elections on Sunday, was for Sanchez to call a snap general election. 

Spaniards will return to the polls on July 23, in the middle of many people’s summer holidays, rather than in December as was expected. The polls predict a victory for the conservative Popular Party (PP) but with the necessary support of far-right Vox in order to form a government.

“I have taken this decision given the results of the regional and municipal elections,” Sanchez announced on Monday. “I personally take responsibility for the results and I believe it is necessary to give a response and to submit our mandate to the will of the people.”

The prime minister went on to point out that Spain is about to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union.

“All of this suggests a clarification from Spaniards about the political forces that should lead this phase and the policies that should be applied,” he continued. “There is only one infallible method, which is democracy.” 

But what else could be behind his decision?

A PP deal with far-right Vox 

The PP did well [at Sunday’s elections], but it will depend on Vox in several places,” wrote journalist and writer Michael Reid on Twitter on Monday. “And that is behind Sánchez’s calculation in calling the snap election. Because if the PP allies with Vox it is hard for it to gain many other allies in Spain’s increasingly fragmented parliament.”

Reid, who writes for The Economist, called the move a ‘bold gamble typical of Sanchez’. “He clearly senses a better chance of assembling a parliamentary majority now than later. But it is his riskiest bet: inflation has hurt Spaniards, moderate Socialist mayors and regional leaders blame him for defeat.”

Changing the conversation

In Spanish daily El Pais, op-ed writer Mariam Martinez-Bascuñan picked apart Sanchez’s strategies, comparing them to those of Machiavelli and questioning whether he was ‘bold or reckless’.

“Today there will be no talk about his defeat, but rather what is to come,” she wrote about his move. “That is another strategy, changing the conversation.” 

The effect on the left

Another consequence of Sanchez’s decision is to force the other leftist parties into action. 

Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz of Podemos officially launched Sumar in April of this year, in a bid to create a new platform to unite Spain’s leftist parties ahead of the general elections. 

But her move has not sat well with Podemos, which considers her a traitor for setting up a new party. As a result, Podemos is yet to sign up to Sumar. 

The idea was for the negotiations to continue once the May 28 local and regional elections were done and dusted and the fallout over. But thanks to Sanchez’s decision to bring the polls forward, Sumar, Podemos and any other party who wants to join only have 10 days to register a coalition.

The poor showing of Podemos at the polls on Sunday – it lost all of its seats in regions such as Valencia and Madrid – may serve as yet more motivation to close a coalition agreement as soon as possible. 

The unanswered questions

It will only be after the July 23 elections that Spaniards will find out whether or not Sanchez’s latest high-stakes gamble has paid off. Until then, there are several unanswered questions, not least including what will happen with Spain’s presidency of the European Union? Could it start with one prime minister and end with another?

And more importantly, why hold a general election on July 23? Will the fact that half of the country will be on vacation have an effect, and was that part of Sanchez’s plan? 

Whatever the case, expect an election where the postal vote is more important than ever. 

Read more:

Spain’s opposition leader welcomes early elections but accuses PM of distracting attention from PP’s gains

PP obtains over 26% more councillors across all Andalucia while PSOE collapsed on May 28 elections 

Spain shifts to the right at 2023 local elections

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Much Awaited New Benidorm Underpass Benidorm Aytm Image
Previous Story

Key Benidorm road reopening in time for summer season on Spain’s Costa Blanca

Blue Shark
Next Story

Man arrested for organising illegal shark and stingray fishing excursions in Spain’s Lanzarote

Latest from Lead

Go toTop

More From The Olive Press

Individualised knee and hip prostheses

Once a patient is told they need a knee or

Forest fire in Marbella is stabilised after 100 firefighters work through the night to tackle inferno

A FOREST fire in Marbella has been stabilised following a