Over the past few years, many European countries have begun tilting further toward the far right. Spain, however, has been one of the few remaining left-leaning bastions, with its ruling socialist coalition making headway on several progressive domestic issues. But the results of regional elections on May 28 left Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Spanish Workers Socialist Party, or PSOE, reeling. The polls, which took place in 12 of the country’s 17 autonomous regions and thousands of municipalities, saw the PSOE suffer major losses across the country, amid a surge of support for the conservative People’s Party and the far-right Vox party.
The following morning, in a surprise move, Sanchez called for a snap election on July 23, five months ahead of the previously scheduled December polls. He assumed responsibility for the devastating results for the left and said that general elections were necessary for voters to “clarify” the will of the people. The announcement left analysts debating whether Sanchez had made a clever strategic gamble or opened the door to the far right to enter government as part of a ruling coalition.
The regional and municipal elections were essentially a referendum on the past three and a half years of rule by the coalition government between the PSOE and junior partner Podemos. As such, they do not augur well for Sanchez.