The Stakes in Spain’s Election Are High for Ukraine, Too

The Stakes in Spain’s Election Are High for Ukraine, Too
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak during a joint press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 23, 2023 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

With Spain set to take over the European Union’s rotating presidency on July 1, and snap parliamentary elections scheduled for three weeks later, the country’s position on the war in Ukraine has become more relevant—and more contentious, with both sides of the political spectrum facing internal divisions over the issue.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party is at odds with its junior coalition partner, Podemos, over both the war and Spain’s role in NATO. Meanwhile, the center-right opposition People’s Party, led by Alberto Nunez-Feijoo, is staunchly pro-NATO and has backed Spain’s support for Ukraine. But if it pulls off a victory in July’s elections, its path to government will in all likelihood require partnering with the far-right Vox party, presenting similar problems.

A recent report from the Spanish think tank Elcano Royal Institute notes that there were concerns at the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that Sanchez might have been held back in providing support to Kyiv by the pacifist leanings of Podemos and even his own party’s voters. But since then, the report adds, Sanchez’s government has “confirmed Spain’s position as a firm and dependable ally of NATO and as a Member State of the EU that is fully committed to the defence [of] Ukrainian national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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