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Spain election: Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez calls early election for July 23
Spain election: Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez calls early election for July 23

Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s prime minister, has called an early general election for July 23 after his party suffered a significant setback in local and regional polls.

In a televised address to the nation on Monday, Sanchez said he had informed King Felipe VI of his decision to dissolve parliament.

It came a day after his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and its junior ally Podemos lost ground during the polls, while rival conservative People’s Party (PP) and far-right party Vox outperformed.

“I took the decision when looking at the results of the elections of yesterday,” Sanchez said.

“Although yesterday’s elections had a local and regional scope, the meaning of the vote conveys a message that goes beyond that. That is why, as both prime minister and PSOE’s secretary-general, I personally assume the results,” he added.

Sanchez had previously said he would complete his four-year term.

But the regional polls were widely seen as a dress rehearsal for a general election that was expected to occur at the end of the year.


In the municipal poll, the PP won 31.5 percent of votes compared with 28.2 percent for the Socialists, a 1.2 percentage point decrease for PSOE on 2019, but almost a nine point increase for the conservatives, which benefited from the collapse of the centrist Citizens party.

The PP won in seven of the 12 regions contested and dominated in several regions previously won by PSOE, including Valencia, Aragon and La Rioja.

PP’s local leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso won a majority in the populated Madrid region.

In big cities such as Valencia and Seville, the votes also favoured the PP.

Barcelona was an outlier among big cities, with a pro-independence party winning, but its narrow margin of victory means it will need an agreement with the Socialists to unseat the current mayor, far-left Ada Colau.

On Monday, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, head of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), said, “We have won a clear victory and Spain has taken the first steps towards a new political era.”


But, even with their success, the PP will only be able to govern several regions with the support of the Vox party, which poses an obstacle to Feijoo.

Spain’s regional governments have enormous power and budgetary discretion over education, health, housing and policing.

The PP leader has looked to moderate the party’s line while keeping the Vox party at a distance with an aim to conquer the centre.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal said in a speech early on Monday, “Vox is here to stay and is here to be decisive in the construction of the alternative Spain needs.”

The new election will come shortly after Spain takes over the rotating European Union presidency on July 1.

Sanchez, who has been in office since 2018, has faced several obstacles during his rule, including voter fatigue, soaring inflation level and falling purchasing power in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.

He has struggled to contain the fallout from repeated crises between the Socialists and their hard-left coalition partner Podemos.

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