Spain heads towards minority coalition government


Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s centre-right People’s Party (PP) has emerged as the largest party after yesterday’s general election but without an overall majority.

The People’s Party dropped from 44.6% of the vote in 2011 to 28.72% yesterday. That means they will have 123 seats in the Congress of Deputies, down from 186 seats and 53 seats short of a majority in the 350 seat lower house.

The party which has traditionally challenged the PP, the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) also dropped seats. They fell from 28.8% of the vote in 2011 to 22.01% yesterday. That means that they will take 90 seats, a drop of 20 seats from 2011.

Both traditional parties have fallen victims to two new parties, the left-wing anti-austerity Podemos (We Can), who took 42 seats with 12.67% of the vote and the centrist Citizen’s or Ciudadanos (C) which took 40 seats and 13.93% of the vote.

Eight other parties secured seats in the new parliament.

With 176 seats needed to form a majority it looks very difficult to see how the People’s Party can secure a majority government. Even if they persuade Ciudadanos to join them in coalition that would only give them 163 seats, 13 seats short of a majority. There are perhaps nine or ten further seats amongst the smaller parties that might be persuaded to form a coalition with the PP.

The Socialists will have an equally difficult time; even if they took Podemos and Ciudadanos into a coalition (and that seems ideologically very difficult) that would give them 172 seats. There are smaller left-wing parties that might join a coalition but it will be hard to hammer out a government programme.

It looks like some hard negotiations are about to start with a slim chance of any party forming a majority.

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