After months of political gridlock, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for a snap election that was held last Sunday in the hopes of changing the makeup of the Spanish Parliament. Sánchez’s own Socialist party came out on top, taking 123 of the 350 seats. However, this victory did not come without push back from the other side of the aisle. For the first time since Spain converted back to democracy in the 1970s, Vox, a far right party, entered parliament with 24 seats.
Vox — you mean the news website? Why are they getting involved in Spanish Politics?
While you can find articles about Spain’s Vox party on the online news site Vox, they are certainly not the same. Vox, the political party, has no affiliation with the website and has recently risen to prevalence alongside many nationalist movements in Europe. The party stands on a conservative platform, identifying with issues such as the pro-life movement and criticizing immigration from countries with large Muslim populations.
Wait, what is a snap election?
A snap election is exactly what it sounds like — an election called at a time when there otherwise wouldn’t be one. Parliamentary governments often rely on those elections when a lack of a clear party majority prevents things from getting done. In most cases, it is the powerless leader themselves who ask the head of the state to call an election, something that is done largely out of courtesy.
What caused the gridlock?
In general, Spain has faced constant political turmoil over the last years. In 2017, Catalonia held a referendum on whether it should secede from Spain. Prohibited by Spanish law, the voting resulted in violence and anger. In addition to that, Sánchez did not win his position in a normal election, but after leading his party in ousting the corrupt former prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, instead.
These troubles contributed to fracturing Spain’s main political parties into subgroups, splitting up parliament so that no single party has a clear majority. Without it, no legislation can be passed.
So the Socialist Party won. What does that mean?
Using the term “won” to describe the outcome of the election for the Socialist party is somewhat generous. The 123 seats won by the party is not a majority of 350. However, some are declaring this outcome a victory as the Socialist Party's policies line up with those of far-left Podemos, as well as the ones of some other smaller groups. This guarantees the party the 176 votes needed to pass legislation.
With the support of all of these groups, the Socialist Party should now be able to pass more liberal policies, shifting the already left-leaning country more towards the left.