Spain’s opposition conservative party, the Popular Party (PP), has claimed victory in a snap election but leaves the country in suspense due to the lack of an absolute majority in parliament.

With 136 seats, the PP finds itself seven seats shy of the required 176 seats for an absolute majority. Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE has secured 122 seats. Vox party has received 33 seats, a drastic demotion from their previously held 52-seat position. Far-left Sumar alliance secured 31 seats and placed fourth in the contest.

PP Leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo remains resolute in his determination to try and form a government.

The snap election took place amid temperatures reaching 40°C in some regions. Citizens attended polling booths to vote despite the summer holiday spirit. The queues were marked with voters clad in swimwear and carrying beach gear. Voter turnout of over 70% was recorded. This turnout surpassed the figures from the previous November 2019 elections.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared that the “reactionary bloc” had failed. Supporters at the Socialist camp cheered as they celebrated their party’s election performance. Outside the Socialist headquarters, chants of “No pasarán” (They Shall Not Pass) echoed a subtle reference to both the far-right party Vox and the anti-fascist slogan of the Spanish civil war, symbolising the determination to resist regressive ideologies.

The Socialist faction has ample reasons to celebrate. Despite falling short of an absolute majority, the ruling party has thwarted the main opposition party’s bid for power. The PP’s ill-sustained bid to secure a majority brings hope for the Socialists, who may see an opportunity to form a coalition government and push forward their progressive agenda.

However, as neither party has secured an absolute majority, Spain faces the possibility of another poll towards the end of the year.

The PP-led opposition has been vocal in their criticism of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, pointing to several contentious issues during his tenure. The prime minister’s handling of a law on sexual consent was among the foremost, as well as reforms related to abortion and transgender rights.

Premier Sánchez, on the other hand, surprised everyone by calling a snap election on 29 May, just three weeks into Spain’s presidency of the European Union Council. Instead of facing prolonged uncertainty and potential harm to the minority government Pedro Sánchez leads in alliance with the far-left Unidas Podemos, he took a risky gamble and transformed Sunday’s election into a straightforward decision between the left and right.

As the election results showed the PP overtaking the Socialists, celebrations within the party picked up. However, the mood remained subdued, and uncertainty loomed large among PP supporters. The combined seats of PP and Vox amount to 169, while PSOE and Sumar hold 153 seats. This indicates that Spain is likely to witness several weeks of negotiations and bargaining as the opposing parties explore various possibilities for forming a government.
Following the convening of the parliament on 17 August, the two blocs will initiate negotiations to establish governments. King Felipe VI will extend an invitation to PP Leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo to try to secure the prime ministership of Spain.