THE CAMPAIGN ahead of Spain’s snap general election on Sunday will officially come to a close today as the country swelters in high summer temperatures, with the candidates for prime minister squeezing in their final events over the course of Friday. 

Current prime minister and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez will be campaigning in Madrid in the dying hours of the campaign, as will the heads of far-right Vox, Santiago Abascal, and new leftist alliance Sumar, Yolanda Diaz. 

Meanwhile, the leader of the conservative Popular Party, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, will be in Malaga and La Coruña as he tries to secure the last possible votes from Spanish citizens. 

Hostile media

Sanchez’s campaign has been characterised by few party rallies at the start of the campaign and a greater focus on media interviews – including with channels and presenters that are usually hostile toward him, such as Ana Rosa on Telecinco. 

That strategy appeared to pay off, with commentators praising his performances. He seemed much less assured, however, during a bad-tempered televised debate with Feijoo on the Atresmedia network. The candidates constantly interrupted one another and accused each other of lying, with Sanchez looking visibly nervous. 

For his part, Feijoo has had to deal this week with a familiar line of attack: his past friendship with Marcial Dorado, a known trafficker who operated in Galicia and with whom the PP leader shared holidays and Christmas celebrations. There are several pictures of the two together on a sailing trip that are once again being widely shared on social networks and in the media. 

Santiago Abascal
Vox leader Santiago Abascal in a file photo.

The PP is predicted to win the general election but fall short of a majority, and the most likely outcome from Sunday’s vote is a coalition government with far-right Vox. But Feijoo would not be drawn during the campaign as to whether this is what he will negotiate in order to avoid a deadlock or a repeat election. 

This is despite the fact that the PP has already done hundreds of deals with Vox in local councils across Spain and in major regions such as Valencia to form governments. 

Leftist coalition

The alternative could be a repeat of a leftist coalition similar to the one in place right now. Prime Minister Sanchez’s Socialist Party would have little difficulty doing a deal with the new leftist alliance Sumar, which is headed up by the current deputy prime minister, Yolanda Diaz, and has absorbed the splintered parties of the left, including the current junior coalition partner Unidas Podemos (United we Can).

The polls, however, predict that the two groups would still need support from smaller parties for the parliamentary arithmetic to work. 

The highlight of Diaz’s campaign was to emerge as the perceived victor at the three-way live televised debate on Wednesday, where she showed clear alignment with Sanchez and was especially combative with Vox leader Santiago Abascal. 

Yolanda Diaz Participates In A Rally In Malaga, Spain 22 May 2023
Yolanda Diaz in a file photo. Credit Image: © Jesus Merida/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire

Feijoo opted not to appear at that debate, paving the way for sustained attacks by Sanchez and Diaz without the chance to reply. 

Vox, for its part, surprised everyone with its extreme electoral manifesto, which calls for a repeal of current abortion laws, a recentralisation of power, an end to measures aimed at promoting gender equality and combating domestic violence, and the disbanding of Spain’s regional police forces. 

Tensions in Catalonia

Abascal also ominously warned during the campaign that tensions would be likely to rise once more with Catalonia and the rest of Spain if Vox were to enter government. 

The far-right party has always been greatly opposed to the Catalan independence drive, which peaked in 2017 with an illegal referendum on secession and unilateral declaration of independence. In recent years, however, the waters have been calmed by a series of concessions to the region granted by the Sanchez administration. 

The snap election was called by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in a surprise move after his party and the left in general fared poorly at the May 28 local and regional elections. It will mark the first time that Spaniards have voted in the summer months since the country returned to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, something that has seen requests for postal votes hit new records.

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