29 May, 2023 @ 17:15
1 min read

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

Opinion poll reveals revitalised Partido Popular under new leader Feijoo could form new Spanish government after December's general election
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THE LEADER of Spain’s main opposition Popular Party, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, today accused Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of calling a snap general election in a bid to distract attention from his Socialist Party’s losses at yesterday’s local and regional elections. 

“Announcing early elections doesn’t hide what happened yesterday,” he said. “Spaniards have made it clear that they have had enough.” 

Feijoo also complained that Sanchez had not scheduled the general election to coincide with yesterday’s date at the polls, rather than his surprise chosen day of July 23.

“I am calling for a clear majority, one that is uncontestable and resounding, to begin a new direction,” the PP leader said at a press conference in comments reported by news agency Europa Press. 

He also slammed the five years of Sanchez’s minority government for its deals with leftist Unidas Podemos, its junior coalition partner, and its agreements with EH Bildu – formerly the political wing of now-defunct Basque terrorist group ETA – and the pro-independence parties in Catalonia. 

He called the government ‘an unsustainable model’ that should ‘come to an end once and for all’. 

The PP was the big winner at yesterday’s elections, which were held in 12 regions and more than 8,000 local councils across the country. The Socialists suffered heavy losses, as did their coalition partners Podemos, which disappeared from the electoral map in many areas, including Madrid and Valencia. 

Despite being local and regional elections, the opposition used the national government’s deals with parties such as Bildu as ammunition, as well as botched laws passed in recent months such as the ‘only yes means yes’ legislation on sexual assault, which had the unexpected effect of seeing some convicted sex offenders’ sentences reduced. 

The elections were seen as an indicator of who is likely to win the general elections, which were expected to be held in December until Sanchez’s surprise announcement this morning that he was dissolving parliament and calling the snap polls. 

However, as was the case in some of the results on Sunday, the PP may have to do a deal with far-right Vox if it falls short of a majority on July 23. 

Feijoo stated today that he had already spoken to Vox leader Santiago Abascal. Speaking on Monday, Abascal said that his party was ‘extending a hand’ to the PP to reach deals after yesterday’s elections, committing to building ‘an alternative’ along with the party.

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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.

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